While looking for something in my documents folder this afternoon, I found this. I don’t remember why I was writing it, but I was fascinated by the glimpse of myself as I saw me that day – according to the last date stamp, October 8, 2012. I didn’t change a single thing – any typos or weird sentences are original. I am amazed at how much things have changed in a year and a half, and yet how much has stayed the same.
Actually, my story isn’t finished yet – I’m still plugging away, with not a lot of traditional “professional success” to show for it. I perform locally, and I make as many opportunities for myself as I can manage. But as my teacher and I were just discussing last week – I could have quit so many times, and those were times of breakthrough for me. I may take a week or a month off, but I come back, and I come back, and always I am better for the break. She remembered a time that I had completely forgotten 2 years ago – preparing for a studio recital, I broke down in tears in the hall. Once she reminded me, it came flooding back: Standing next to the piano feeling so completely a failure. I worked hard, and I had a beautiful instrument that I tried so hard to train. Why was I not getting the gigs I knew I could do?! I had poured so much money, time, energy into becoming the singer I just KNEW I could be. My throat was closed up with the tears of frustration and disillusion, and as she put it, that was a “rock-bottom” moment for me. I could quit. It would be very easy – honestly, I was perfectly good enough for any church choir or community chorus (outstanding, actually), and no one was counting on my income as a singer – it would actually be a huge savings, considering how much lessons cost – and the torture of not living up to the standard I had set for myself would be over. But… Something in me refused – refuses! – to quit. I don’t know how NOT to be a singer, to continue becoming the best I can be. And I think that’s what has changed over the past 2 years. I have left off comparing myself (mostly) to all the other amazing singers I know, and begun loving and enjoying the singer I am. I have a lot to offer, too, and discovering what makes me unique is a lot of fun. I’m still working hard, and I still want to be a “real” pro singer with more pay gigs than pro bono or self-funded ones, but my goals have changed, and, more importantly, my attitude has changed (with a few lapses, which are quickly gotten over). So what if I don’t have a full-time career? I still have a beautiful, now highly-trained, instrument, and I know how good I am. I don’t need others to tell me how great I am (although, I must say, it is quite nice occasionally!). I have become a teacher myself, and the thrill when a student “gets” a concept is as gratifying in its own way as performing. I am still training, auditioning, and the gigs are finally coming, just like I knew (hoped?) they would. Funny how things work out when one’s perspective changes…
Two quotes that I found last week about keeping on:
Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. ~Newt Gingrich
Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before. ~Jacob A. Riis