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On the morning of my piano exam, I stood outside my house, waiting for the shuttle bus to pick me up. It was early and quiet. The sky was still dark. The chilly winter wind made me more nervous than I already was.

There in front of our house, mom and dad stood beside me. I told them how nervous I was.

I was afraid that I would fail.

It was my first piano test, and I felt like I wouldn’t be able to do it. I started learning to play the piano only about a year before the test and felt like I couldn’t play as well as the other students who started much earlier.

After I told my parents how depressed I was, dad told me something I would never forget. He said, “if you do it anyway, you either pass or fail. It’s 50/50. But if you just give up, you’ll only fail.”

I’ve kept it with me all these years. Whenever I feel like I want to run away or give up, I think of what my father said that morning.

Later that day, I passed the test with distinction.

— Petra