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Illustration by Ana Muñoz, 15, North Hollywood HS Zoo Magnet

I was overconfident before a concert

About a year ago, the rock band club I’m in at school had our first performance in front of a live audience. We were playing at a local senior center for a fundraiser. We were going to perform four songs. I always practiced them perfectly and I thought to myself, “I’m going to rock this show.”

About five minutes before the show I did a sound check and I realized I had forgotten to tune my guitar. But I wasn’t worried that I hadn’t tuned it because I was being cocky and thought I was ready. Right before we had to perform I used my friend Lorenzo’s tuner but it wasn’t working properly. I sounded so bad that my instructor told me to lower my volume during the show. I was eventually drowned out by every other instrument. During our second song I thought, “I ruined my first show already,” and I knew I disappointed everyone.

Now I always try to make a list in my head of what I need to get done before a performance. Since then I have been tuning up for shows at least 10 minutes before they start and I’ve been rocking every show since.
David Zacarias, 15, Roosevelt HS

I applied for a job I couldn’t do

When I was 16 I wanted a job so badly so I could make my own money. I was filling out applications like crazy, even to places I would never think of working. 

I was online one day and saw an opening at a pizza parlor in Culver City. The posting explained that the person hired would work in the kitchen and serve customers. I applied and a couple days later I received a call from the manager to come in for an interview. I was ecstatic. It was my first interview and in my mind I was already hired. The next day when I walked in, the manager looked at me like I had three heads. He started questioning me. “So, when did you learn to make pizzas? What other Italian dishes can you cook? Are you aware that you’re going to have to make pizzas from scratch?” My only response was that I was willing to learn and work hard. Obviously that didn’t work; he politely dismissed me and told me he would call me back. I left confused, but after a while I realized I made a complete fool of myself and he wasn’t going to call me back. 

My experience was pretty embarrassing. I decided to give up looking for a job and volunteer instead. I don’t get paid, but I help those in need while I get experience for when I do start job-hunting again.
Jenny Guevara, 17, City of Angels HS

Taking good photos is harder than It looks

My aunt and uncle had a giant first-birthday bash for my cousin last year. Since I have the nicest camera in my family, my aunt asked me to be the photographer and promised to pay me $50. I thought it was an easy way to earn some money so I immediately said yes. 

The day of the party I went around taking pictures of the tables with their Elmo centerpieces and my cousin in his little tuxedo. As the day went on, more people arrived. I’m not much of a people person so knowing that I had to take pictures of my uncle’s family and friends who I didn’t know got me nervous. I tried asking people if they wanted their picture taken and most said no, so I got discouraged. 

Instead of continuing, I went inside the house and watched a movie with my other cousins. After awhile my aunt came in and asked why I had stopped taking pictures. I told her that the amount of people was overwhelming and she told me that she was going to fire me if I didn’t do my job and left, annoyed. I stayed inside so when my aunt came back she fired me. I didn’t blame her; I was missing all the important things that were happening outside. 

In the end, I didn’t get paid. I wasn’t prepared for the responsibilities of the job. Photography isn’t about just owning a nice camera, it’s about taking pictures of people and being able to interact with them, something I’m just not good at.
Jackie Alvarado, 17, Social Justice Humanitas Academy (San Fernando)

I thought I didn’t need to train

I joined cross country this year. Because I was overconfident, I didn’t feel I needed all the training, but I was wrong.

I went to the summer training, and being one of the faster rookies, I could run seven miles without stopping. But when summer school ended and I got to go on vacation, I was thrilled because I would get to miss practice, which meant a rest for my sore muscles.

After school started, practices were mandatory. I noticed that many of my friends who practiced every day were able to keep up with me and even beat me sometimes, which surprised me because in the summer I was always faster. At our first meet, everybody kept passing me and I got tired after one mile. My final place was 125 out of 250 with a time of 21:34 for three miles.

The results of that meet told me I needed more time to get fit, but the season had already begun. Now I’m trying to make up for the time I missed by coming to practice every day and doing everything the coach says. Even though I’m not as fast as I could be, I now know that I have to stay consistent to get better, and I’m trying to make up for the time I lost.
Cliff Chang, 14, Walnut HS

Yard sales take planning

I wanted to throw a yard sale because I had a bunch of junk after cleaning my room. There were clothes I hadn’t worn in years. I had old exercise equipment and toys, and my grandfather gave me kitchen appliances we hardly used. So that Thursday evening I said, “In two days I’m having a yard sale.” I separated my clothes and gadgets. I made two signs Friday night. Then Saturday morning I posted them on each corner of my street.

That morning I set up around 6 a.m. and stayed until 2 p.m. It was a horrible, long day. People passed by but didn’t stop. I sold only four items: a beanie, a couple of shirts and a hoodie, and made about $10. I realized that not only did I try to do it overnight, I didn’t promote it enough or set up at a good time. There wasn’t a lot of traffic so maybe a weekday afternoon would have been better. After that I gathered all my junk just to take back in the house.
Precious Sims, 19