by Rukiya Michele
“Music can change the world because it can change people.” – Bono
If music can change the world, then it can certainly change the way people see themselves in this world. Actually, it can change the way they see their world. Twice a year, every August and January to be precise, I get the worst case of nervousness. I know the source. And thankfully, I know the cure.
You see, I am a college professor. At the start of every new semester I get the most serious case of nervousness. Yes, I get nervous on the first day of school. It doesn’t just happen to students. Yes, I get nervous at the idea of meeting my new students – all 135 of them. I become uneasy at the thought of standing in front of a new group of people. I wonder if we’ll get along. I pray that our personalities don’t clash. I dread the point when I will, inevitably, experience burnout well before the end of the semester. When my classes are 100% full I secretly hope that some of them will fade off into the abyss of academia well before the end of the semester. I am human. My humanity becomes even more sharply focused when you realize that I am a public speaking professor and, yes, I still get nervous to speak in front of my students. I am human.
However, the benefit of being a public speaking professor and training others to be public speakers is that I might have a little more insight into how one might quell that nervousness. You see, one of the first recommendations that those of my discipline make is for the nervous speaker to listen to music before it’s time to hit the lectern. This is advice I have personally taken to heart. I have, however, extended the prescription a tad bit.
When I am nervous on the first day of class I know enough to put on my mood music. But, what mood might that be? That’s simple. When I am nervous about being successful or “clicking” with my students each semester I simply remind myself that I am living my dream! Since I was an adolescent, I knew that I wanted to “teach grownups”. Granted, some of my students aren’t quite “grownups” just yet. But, you get the point. I digress. Despite my fear, I use that music to remind myself that regardless of my fear, nervousness or the challenges of the semester, I am doing my career. That creates gratitude because I know many people, perhaps some who are reading this blog, aren’t able to say the same. So, with that said, here’s my list for my top six songs to listen to when I need to find some career gratitude.
6. I Smile by Kirk Franklin
5. Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now by McFadden & Whitehead
4. 100 by Tommy Sims
3. Golden by Jill Scott
2. Optimistic by Sounds of Blackness
1. Good Life by Kanye West