Megan Larkin '17

Being in the Cornell University Chorus taught me more than some of my hardest classes. The lessons that it taught me, though, were not always about practical knowledge or general skills.  While there could be many names for an overarching theme to what I learned, I feel that none fit it better than vulnerability. When people go to college, they want to gain a lot of adjectives: intelligent, engaging, innovative, hard-working, determined, or strong. We imagine ourselves becoming a better version of ourselves through positive experiences, friends, exceptional teachers, and success.  An instructor I had once told me something that has stuck with me: “Become comfortable with being uncomfortable.”  If you are comfortable in the worst situation, you can be confident in any situation.  To me, this means learning how to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability can take multiple shapes, especially in a choral environment: being alone in an audition, singing next to strangers and knowing that they can hear you, and understanding that if they can’t hear you, you’re partially letting the group down.  These generic choral experiences expose singers to criticism.  The Cornell University Chorus helped me understand vulnerability from multiple perspectives. I was generally nervous about having other people hear me sing, but also about letting them know my personality.  Learning to be vulnerable came through on my first tour, where I learned how to have a conversation with a stranger in whose house I “home stayed”.  It came through living with members of the Chorus and the Cornell University Glee Club, when I had no idea about people’s living habits. It came through traveling to a different country where I didn’t speak the language but learned to communicate with people regardless. It came through finding my best friends by chance, or sometimes by forcefully introducing myself. It came through being abroad for a semester and worrying that people would move on without me and later from understanding that these people would never let that happen.  Chorus taught me to enter to new experiences wholeheartedly, and that there are always people there to support you through it.  It came through helping friends with difficult times and having them help me with my own. It showed me that being vulnerable is not a display of weakness, but of true strength.

Being in the Cornell University Chorus taught me much more than many of my classes.  It not only taught me how to be a good singer, but also a true friend, a world traveler, a Cornell ambassador, an innovator, and a professional.  It taught me to be okay with being completely exposed to new experiences, and to even look forward to them. It taught me to thrive and show my strength in being vulnerable.