And now what?

Padrão

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!

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Ópera Garnier – Paris

The end of Hibernation season

Padrão

It is delightful to live a sunny and warmer day in the Hague. Not only the birds revel, but also the dutch. Even though it is slightly over 14º, everyone emerges from their caves towards the sunny parks. The entire city is experienced under a very different light and it is quite impossible not to carry a smile wherever you go.

Having to cycle a long distance yesterday, I decided to enjoy the beautiful day while doing it. Instead of rushing, I took my time, stopped and really absorbed the pleasant atmosphere. Everything gained a more vivid colour, contrasting to the grayish days we normally have.

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The Peace Palace

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Malieveld

I really felt that I’ve been on hibernation season until now. For quite some time I hadn’t felt this alive. I’m not saying that I’ve been living in misery, for that’s absolutely not the case. I’m very happy here, even if some days are hard to cope with, because of the lack of sun. But still, when a day like this comes along I feel like myself again, I feel that I rediscover what life means to me all over again.

I know this may sound a bit lame, but it is indeed magical. As I was cycling on my way back, my mind burst with ideas and real motivation to follow them. My brain, as well as my body, began to wake up and I couldn’t help but realize how happy I am, how far I’ve come and how I’m finally getting closer to the person I never trusted to be. I feel that it’s about time to put myself out there, facing insecurities and accepting that they’ll always be there, popping into my head from time to time. I can’t wait for them to disappear for good, in order to move forward. They may put me down, but they also keep me real and grounded, by giving me strength to fight them over. I’ll simply change the way they affect me and use them for my own benefit.

 

I’m glad I lived yesterday, lived it with and for myself, for today it is raining again!

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I took holidays from the world

Padrão

I took holidays from the world
from the world other than my own.
I chose to be free for a while
and enjoy this peace so worthwhile.

With nothing to prove,
no explanations to give,
I’ve freed my mind from this lie that I’ve lived.

This lie about myself, about my weak-self.

Far from unsolicited opinions,
far from the outside expectations,
I grew and began to find myself again.
This confident and target focused person that I really am.

Different talks in new surroundings,
new-found connections to feel free with.
A companionship to last a life time
and a deeper love for being me.

Yes, I’m coming back, holidays are over!
Not the same, not changed,
just myself, wiser and older.

Let the wall fall

Padrão

At every sunrise, Judgment awaits.
It never sleeps.
It never stops trying to hide
in the darkest corners of the heart.

No words need to be uttered
for It to leave a mark.
A look, a distance,
a silence is more than enough.

By one’s Happiness It is triggered,
for it leaves Them on a string.
A string made of fear
that grows stronger
at every rushed heart beat.

Let that wall fall, let it be extinct!
No defense is needed against a happy heart.
Let it breath and sigh.
Let it be free to smile.
Or is it really that hard?

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The birth of the Phoenix

Padrão

After the most epic Summer of break-ups here in Den Haag (notice the How I met your mother’s reference) and the ridiculously grey cloud that hung on my head for weeks, I can finally say that I’m back, cloud-free and with more strength than my body can actually handle!

Life follows its own path, and I’m letting it happen, instead of trying to redirected it all the time. Every time I try to do it I only end up postponing the unavoidable! Life strikes when you least expect it and there’s no point in trying to over-analyze it, specially not for peer pressure.

It’s when I hit the bottom that I actually realize how lucky I am, for I become more aware of the good things and people I have in my life. There’s not enough retribution for the good friends that didn’t let me stay down (even when I’m literally down on the ground of my closet for hours!) or forget who I am. These moments always teach me something, they remind me of who I am and of what I really want for myself. If for a time I lose self-confidence, when I regain it again, it is stronger and on a upper level, specially by realizing how strong I can be.

In a way we function by triggers, and if some throw us down in the gutter, others surprise us, even scary us, for their positive outcome. They open new possibilities in a, many times, unexpected way. It was such a trigger that helped me find myself and my own path again.

I missed this feeling of reaching the end of the day tired as hell, after a productive day of work. I may be going home quite bumpy on my Julieta most of these days, but gosh it feels good! I’ve been so immersed in my studies again that I end up skipping lessons for spending hours at the library or simply because I can’t spare any of my practice time. I’d forgotten how I love to work, how I love to spend hours surrounded by books and just lose myself in translations and research. I’d forgotten who I am musically, while trying to focus on my limitations. It’s about time I begin to acknowledge what I already do well and show it to the world.

The Fear

Padrão

All the words left unsaid
All the paths we didn’t take,
Held by the fear of going beyond ourselves,
Weight still on my heart.

Fearing the rejection, I rejected
Wanting to seem cool, I grew apart.
My fears tricked me and ran free
Leaving me in this meaningless swirl of life.

(This dangerous illusion that we call comfort
Keeps us captive in a unrealistic nest.
A nest so pleasant and so simple,
that makes us give up on all the rest.

It constantly pulls us in
As we strive into the real world.
It makes us doubt and resist
More than we really would.)

How can a moment define so much?
How can it effortlessly throw us apart?
After all the struggle, all the doors that cracked open,
Just waiting for time and trust to knock them down.

How can fear win over our hearts?

Pond of tears

Padrão
In this pond of tears made,
remain the skeletons of fish I once knew.
Some took here a longer detour
while others brought a devastating storm. 
 
They taught me how to swim,
but not how to breath under water.
On the surface, I feel mistakenly safe,
But as I dive I struggle and cave.
 
Too much was expected,
too much was given,
too much over-done to make up for the uneven.
 
They all played their part. 
They carried each drop into this heart, 
but none dried it again.
It dried on its own, every single day.
 
I’m striving for an ocean of laughter,
of both motion and quietness.
An ocean that frees me from this pond’s constraints.
An ocean that finally teaches me how to breath under water.
 
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No expectations

Padrão

   We are born with expectations and, no matter how we deal with them throughout our lives, it’s a sure thing that we’ll die with them. Even as babies we already cry expecting a certain response from our parents. It’s a matter of survival. As we grow up, expectations change, and so does our approach towards them. They become both the fuel for our development as well as one of our strongest defense mechanisms.

   I have always set my expectations on a quite high and unrealistic level, for myself but specially regarding other people’s behaviour towards me. I tend to expect actions and words on which I reflect myself. This has been one of my most self-deceiving  and self-centered faults. I have been letting myself down many times for setting high expectations on others. I often feel disappointed and unappreciated, and I only have myself to blame for!

   I expect people to act in a certain way, that they will share my enthusiasm and reciprocate my behaviour towards them. I never actually gave this subject the importance it deserves in my life. I have always thought that I was giving too much of myself and that the others actually didn’t care as much for me as I did for them. This has been a big mistake on my behalf. I can never really know what other people feel, think or intend. I can only go crazy trying to guess it, and for what? The only thing I get is disappointment for seeing my expectations go down the drain, and it is ridiculous!

   The expectations we set towards the others are for our own defense. The problem is that on setting them we are empowering other people’s influence on our well-being (even if they’re not aware of it). From the moment we set an expectation we are aware of our possible responses, with which we think we can cope (in our favour or not) – once again, the concept of control is present. Even if an expectation is not fulfilled we know in advance how we will react – we’ll feel frustrated, disappointed, unappreciated. This is why we keep doing it, because we feel in control of every possibility, whether we like it or not.

   What if we just stop tiring our brains with this useless and hypothetical information?

   Well, I can say that we open up much more space for ourselves and we begin to enjoy the element of surprise. Yes, the idea of surprise might sound scary, oh but it does feel good when someone shows their appreciation when we don’t expect them to! Our response is more genuine and strong too.

   Expectations have filled about 80% of my life until now, leaving little or no space for letting me be surprised. Well, from the moment I realized this and began to shut down the excess of daily expectations that occupied my head, I can for certain say that I feel so much happier when a good surprise comes my way as well as far less disappointed when it doesn’t, because it’s all about the moment. I don’t feel in anticipation, specially not the disappointment (which is usually quite regular). It’s more about living one day at a time, one moment at a time, and completely, by actually being there, instead of letting my mind wonder around unnecessary paths.

   Of course I can’t say that I’ve stopped having expectations. That is simply not possible or even realistic. I just give them less power and space in my mind. Every time I begin to form an expectation in my head I just place it in a small box and close it in the dustiest corner of my mind. Instead of giving it the usual weight, I turn my focus on what I really want to do at that moment, regardless of external reactions. From that moment I feel empowered and far less preoccupied. Whatever comes will be dealt with only then.

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Nothing ever changes

Padrão
Nothing ever changes,
only appearances do.
New lives replace those that were lost,
as this is the cycle we all fall into.
 
Time speeds up through our frozen minds.
Everything stays as if it never was.
No pain, no loss, no tear will ever do.
For this world knows no commitment,
this world  which we call home to.
 
Take this anguish away!
I cannot breath, I cannot cry.
I gasp for air but it always turns dry.
 
I shut down from that world
and sing myself a lullaby,
for our world is what we make of it,
and mine still gives me reasons to smile.