Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Lauren Wargelin and within the next few hours, I will be receiving my degrees in psychology and Spanish. I am honored to be speaking to you today and to be representing the senior class.
Looking back on my experiences at Otterbein, it’s hard to determine exactly how I have changed since I started my college journey. That’s not because Otterbein has not had an impact on my life, though. Honestly, I have changed so much as a result of my past four years here that it’s difficult to focus on just one way in which I have grown. I’m pretty sure that if I told every one of my stories, we would be here all day. So I will stick to just one story that demonstrates how Otterbein has transformed me.
I came to Otterbein on a music scholarship for French horn. I had been playing since fifth grade and wanted to keep playing through college. The music program at my high school was fairly laid-back, so I never had to work very hard to be successful. I beat out the other horn players for first chair without spending much time in the practice room. For all you non-musicians in the audience, the first chair is like the MVP of the section, playing the highest, hardest parts and leading the section to musical victory. This is how I expected college to be. I expected to continue to be a champion musician without working hard. Boy, was I in for a surprise.
During my first year at Otterbein, I continued playing horn the same way I had in high school, but all of the sudden, I stopped being successful. I was struggling through my lessons and was unprepared for rehearsals. The amount of time I was expected to spend playing was dramatically greater than the amount I was actually putting in. So by the end of my freshman year, I was burnt out. Balancing two majors, extracurriculars and my music scholarship felt impossible. I simply wasn’t enjoying playing horn anymore. All I wanted to do was quit. I returned home for the summer after that first year and told my family that I was going to forgo my scholarship. I was done with music.
Luckily for me, my plans to quit were upended by my horn teacher, Kim McCann. Kim pushed me to continue playing and wouldn’t accept my defeatist attitude. When I was playing a difficult piece in my lessons and would say, “I can’t do it,” Kim would quickly correct me and tell me that I could. All I had to do was work harder and have confidence in myself. Kim continued to assign me challenging pieces of music that forced me to put everything I had into my playing in order to succeed. Slowly, I learned that whether or not I could play a piece depended directly on whether or not I told myself I could. It wasn’t a lack of skill that was holding me back, it was a lack of confidence. Luckily for me, Kim knew this way before I did. She had always believed in me as a musician and pushed me until I also believed in myself. Once I gained the confidence to succeed, my whole outlook on playing changed. I began to play for myself instead of for my scholarship and I regained the passion for music that I had temporarily lost.
What music taught me is that often what holds us back in life is not a lack of ability, but a lack of confidence in ourselves. We tell ourselves that we won’t make it, that we’re not good enough, that if we try, we’ll just fail. What we need to realize is that every time we tell ourselves this, we are wrong. We are simply standing in our own way. We will make it, we are good enough and if we try, we will not fail. To quote William Ernest Henley’s poem, Invictus, “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”
As you leave Otterbein today, think about the people that you have met in the last four years that have believed in you, that saw in you what you had not yet seen in yourself. Think about how we have been transformed by this quiet, peaceful village. And wherever life may take us as we go our separate ways, realize that you are talented and capable. All you have to do is believe it.
Thank you and congratulations, class of 2012.
Lauren Wargelin is a double major in psychology and Spanish and the 2011 Otterbein Homecoming Queen. She has served as a training coordinator for orientation, treasurer of Sigma Alpha Tau sorority, tutor, resident assistant, peer mentor and Greek outreach coordinator. She was a member of the Cardinal Marching band and a volunteer with Relay for Life, the Ronald McDonald House and Sisters in Service. She has been a ministry intern for The City Mission in Cleveland, OH, and a second-grade teacher at Heritage Christian Church.