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~ Guest Writer, Julia Rael ~

What does the phrase “Man Up” mean to you?

To some, it might bring inspiration – the drive to keep going when things seem tough. To others, the phrase might represent a misogynist point of view. As though the only way to be strong is to be like a man.

To me, the phrase “man up” brings to mind an inspiring human trait: rising to the occasion. When thinking about the topic of masculine power, my mind was instinctively drawn to the ideas of strength, determination, and courage. Men are of course not the only ones who possess these traits. These traits are somewhat instinctive. Rising to the occasion is often an adrenaline-fueled choice that we have to make on short notice. Situations in our lives may arise when we realize that we either have to fight or fail. But it is often in those moments that we shine the brightest. Our true potential is seen. Our strength, determination, and courage turn out to be more powerful than we thought.

These traits are a part of us because we are human.

In my own life, the times I’ve felt the strongest were the times I felt the weakest. Let me explain:

When I doubt myself and feel that I am weak, I think of the times that I was weaker. I think of the times when extreme exhaustion set in and made me question all my life choices. I think of the times that the stress of hard classes and working two jobs almost broke me. When I remember how low I felt – how helpless I was – I take another look at myself today. And I remember that I can get through anything that I put my mind to.

My life hasn’t really been that hard – after all, I’m a music student, not a med student. I was fortunate enough to choose an educational path that relies on my talent and not on intense hours of late-night study over a textbook. I don’t really worry about big midterms – I worry about big auditions and solo gigs. But life for me is really only beginning. With that said, life will undoubtedly get a lot harder. But determination will give me strength. Persistence will give me courage. The oppositions and competitions I encounter along life’s road are going to be there to test me, yes – but most importantly, they will be there to teach me something about life.

If we all choose to look at our trials with the attitude of “What can I learn from this situation?” and “How can this make me stronger?”, I believe we will be more successful. Manning up is about looking difficult situations squarely in the face and determining that you will overcome them.

This month’s piece of music I would like to focus on perfectly captures the idea of strength and resilience.

Titled Cherokee All My Trials, this piece of choir music tells the story of the Cherokee people’s journey on the Trail of Tears as a result of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The background story is truly heart-wrenching – thousands of Native Americans were forced to leave their homes and be relocated to a place completely unknown to them. As a result, thousands lost their lives from disease and starvation.

Cherokee All My Trials – published by Hinshaw Music – places the beautiful Bahamian Spiritual in traditional Cherokee text. This arrangement by James E. Green was inspired by the songs that Cherokee mothers would sing to their children to comfort them as they walked along the Trail of Tears. The music is written for SATB voicing and is meant to be accompanied by flute and percussion. The flute accompaniment is meant to represent the air we breathe, and the drum percussion represents the heartbeat of the Cherokee people.

The trials that the Cherokee and other Native American peoples faced at this time were devastating. But their courage and resilience are truly inspiring. Studying things like this always gives me another reason to keep trying when things seem tough. I may be hard-pressed to pass a very obnoxious statistics class – but in the long run, that “trial” is not earth-shattering. My life may get stressful at times, but I have so much to be thankful for.

I want to be known in life as someone who manned up.

When life gets tough, I’ll get tougher. I am very blessed to have many examples in my life of people who are brave and strong even in the face of trial and disaster. Their examples and my faith will be enough to strengthen me when I become discouraged. I can only hope to be that same example for others that come after me. Everyone must face trials at some point in their lives. But when my trials come, I will man up and face them head-on.

Julia Rael

Julia is a young, enthusiastic writer whose love for music is threatened by only one thing: her love for coffee. She is currently a choral music student and barista in Los Angeles, where she likes to spend her free time bullet journaling, hiking, and laughing at her two English Bulldogs – Emma and Charlie.

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