This past month, I had the amazing opportunity to once more participate in an awesome event called Night of Gratitude. Night of Gratitude (NOG) is an event where teens in PFO honor 10 individuals for their philanthropy and impact in the Charlotte community through teen-created music, spoken word, and dance. The main thing I was excited to do through this process was experience songwriting with talented musicians who would elevate my writing.

When Jen (our Executive Director) gave us the song assignments, I noticed I had been placed in a spoken word piece and a dance piece. While I’m not exactly a dancer, dance is within my comfort zone (having done it twice through PFO) and spoken word is an area I usually use as my art medium. Having discovered this, I was slightly disappointed. The process was still fun as I knew it would be, but I still yearned for the opportunity to perform in a song.

During the last week of rehearsals, I was informed that I would get to be in a piece called “Home” that was in honor of an activist who focused on immigration. The piece had an open space for spoken word and background vocals. This was still disappointing at the time, and I felt a bit unfulfilled despite my cast members informing me that my piece was very impactful. When we finally performed the piece, I saw the look in Oliver’s eyes and realized something. The reason this process had not been the same as in the past was my focus on myself. Ironically, it is literally in the title- Playing FOR OTHERS.

The reason we do everything we do is to serve others, and make an impact that way. The praise I received reaffirmed me as the audience told me my portion was a highlight of their night and often brought them to tears. Thanks to Night of Gratitude, I learned a very important lesson and shifted my perspective on the process.