After 9 years of jumping from one degree to the other, from one University to another, I finally decided to pull the plug. Yes, I could have had a few more academic years in front of me (master, doctoral…), but with three degrees in my pocket I think it was about time to just give it a rest. I always believed I should stay in school for as long as there are ladders to climb, never trusting that I was ready to face the real world before that. After 9 years of doing so, this is what I came to realize: I was soooo wrong!
That idea only brought me insecurity, for I learned to rely on school in order to feel appreciated and valued. Until the day I didn’t anymore. I began to feel blocked, to lose confidence and to even begin losing interest in what always interested me the most. I was always stronger in myself, and that also decreased significantly over time. I lost track of my ideals and even of what I really want. I jumped from one opinion to another as if that was my only truth. But what about me? I mean, really. I felt so invisible sometimes or, even worse, a walking-burden going around the school’s corridors. Although I naturally improved in my singing along the years, I don’t think this was because of being in school. In fact, I believe that I would have improved even more if I was outside doing mistakes and facing my own struggles. Of course the vocal guidance I had, and will continue to have, was a great part of my improvement, but I could, and I will, do it at my own pace and will now, away from the school as an institution itself. Regrets aside, this all contributed to who I am today, and while working on regaining the trust I’ve lost, I am sure it was as it should have been.
The real question now is: what’s next?
Now that I’m finally stepping out into the wild with all that I have to give, where do I turn first? Fortunately, there are still viable paths to follow, but which is the one for me? My path has never been straightforward. If I decide one way, I end up on the other. ALL THE TIME! Well, at least it’s never boring. It just makes everything much more complicated in the decision-making process.
The great thing about being a singer is not only the pleasure it brings, but also that it is very versatile. This is what I love the most about it, for I need to keep doing new things. The possibilities are diverse: teach music, apply for professional choirs, do your own recital programs (my personal favorite), travel around for competitions, sing at specific social events, go on to an opera company, etc. Most of us, end up combining some of these and earn sufficiently to pay the bills, others will only follow one of these paths and probably be quite successful in doing so.
Deep down I know I want to combine a bit of everything. It’s not that I have such an idea of myself that I think I can do it all. I wish I did. But still, in the short range of possibilities at my reach, there’s so much I can try. This is where the real problem begins. When you have a clear path from the beginning, it can be easier deciding which way to go first. It usually follows a certain order. When, as in my case, you can’t decide where to go first, it’s easy to feel blocked and just stop. Plus, after so many years closed behind doors, only popping out now and then for an audition or so, it is natural that reentering the real world becomes harder. People that might have known you before, while you were in your amateur years, moved on to other singers who were out there in the world while you were not. You end up falling into oblivion back where everything started. Having said so, I now realize that to stop performing in order to focus on the learning process is really not the way. Not that anyone really forced this idea on me, I blame this on myself.
Contrarily to what I was always told to do in this profession, I never wanted to become the best in what I do. I want to become the best that I can be, in the best way for me, i.e. without losing my sanity. Of course I want recognition, but so does any interested professional in his work. Recognition is what gives continuity to a career. My ambition is to be able to sing my heart out (something I rarely could do in a school’s environment) while being paid for it. If it is something that I believe in, that’s more than enough for me.
Now the real struggle begins, with better days than others, but I still believe that in the midst of all this I’ll be true to myself. Paths will intertwine, close down and reappear. Let them come, let the game begin!