This last Hmong New Year was different than all the other years.

We all came together, my cousins and me, and decided to do a performance. We spent many weekends practicing for the performance. After a few months of practicing, we decided on outfits, positions and a group name.

We were all getting nervous as the day neared.

On the day of the performance, we were all rushing to get ready. My sisters and I got up at 7 in the morning to get ready. The house was messy when we left because we didn’t really have time to clean up. Shirts and skirts on the ground. Hats on the table. Dishes in the sink.

When we finally left the house, I was worried that I might have left something behind. My sisters and me were, not surprisingly, quiet in the car ride.

I kept on looking at my sisters in the 15-minute car ride. I could tell my sisters were nervous.

I was also nervous, but I knew that I shouldn’t really have a reason to be. We practiced the dance repeatedly on the weekends. We worked hard and should be prepared on the stage. We just needed to keep reminding ourselves that we only needed to do it once, and then it was all over.

We parked the car far away from the entrance. While we walked there, I was shaking because of the cold wind blowing on me. I tried convincing myself that I wasn’t that nervous and that I was just cold. It worked until we entered the building, because then I was no longer cold.

My family had to go and buy tickets, but my sisters and I got to go in for free. After my family bought the tickets and got inside, we met up with some of the other group members. We were all worried. Despite us being all worried, our parents made us take lots and lots of pictures.

When the time came, we all lined up. As we walked onstage, there was a crowd of eyes watching.

The music came on, and we started the dance. After a while, I no longer felt nervous. The dance ended along with the song. The audience applauded as we left the stage.

In the end, I was glad I put in the effort and decided to do it.

Contact: 715-833-9206, samantha.west@ecpc.com, @SamanthaWest196 on Twitter