doing a good work.

My major project in college, at the end of the day, was my a cappella group, the Skidmore Dynamics. (I completely forgot they got a New York Times writeup.) I did most of the organizing legwork, and a lot of the "leadership" involved in keeping a shaky venture going until it can really stand on its own--essentially, behaving with complete confidence that everything will work out fine, regardless of what you're actually feeling.

(Honest. It's like Kipling said: "keep your head when all about you are losing theirs." We're social creatures, and we don't want to go things alone; often enough, before we can really believe, we want to know that someone else believes at least as much as we do. The greatest quality people need in a leader is just a confidence that they've got everything under control, or that they can handle anything that comes up. I was called in to help out with our New Year's party because a lot of people showed up to help, but people felt like they didn't have anything to do and were starting to get the stressful feeling like they wouldn't have the party ready. I showed up and walked around for a few hours, running down the standard party checklist [bathrooms, power, water, lighting, sound], asking questions, making gentle suggestions of stuff people could do, and generally giving off an aura of calm. I didn't do any actual work. We don't always scrutinize our leaders as much as we should, but for the purposes of satisfying our herd instinct and getting stuff done, we let it slide. During the remarkably rough first year of the Dynamics, I don't think anyone ever asked me if I really believed inside that everything would be okay; or if they did, I probably lied, because that's what you do in that situation.)

At any rate, the group's tenth anniversary is this fall, and I'm amazed at how the spirit we developed has persisted: lots of theater experience, people who enjoy being on stage in a way you might not necessarily find just in a singer--the group is performers. Strange, quirky performers.