There’s a time when you have to make a choice between merely existing and truly living. This year, some of my days at work felt like I was grasping for air, dying a slow death sitting in my beige-colored cubicle also known as the “office.” Maybe I was worn out from adjusting to the fourth supervisor in two years. Maybe it was the twenty pounds I gained around my thighs and butt that cemented the thought that I had to get up and get moving again. Whatever the reason, I wasn’t happy and I had to make a change. It was time for me to rediscover my passion for living.
So, after a couple of life-coach sessions and several private “come to Jesus” meetings, I bucked up the courage to step away from my chair and put my plan in action. One of my interests and hobbies had been lying dormant and losing energy while I settled into the more “stable” profession of social work and public health. Could it be that I would need to revisit the idea of singing again? Yup, not singing in the shower, but singing as a vocation, the profession I’d list on my taxes and pay my bills with. Ten years ago, I walked away from the entertainment world because my analytical, thinking self said it had to be wrong since I was having fun. It had to be wrong since I wasn’t doing what I went to school for. And finally, it had to be wrong, of course, because my parents disagreed and would generally prefer if they could keep tabs on me by knowing I was securely employed.
To be truthful, part of me had Mom and Dad’s concerns too. So just to be sure, I tried to spice things up a bit by taking on new social activities purposely to change my life up. But even after this experiment, I came to the conclusion that what was missing was my voice. Literally. Now, this made me uncomfortable because it had almost been ten years since I been on stage and truthfully, I didn’t know if I could still sing well enough to get a callback, much less book a gig. At least trying would silence the “what ifs” and give me a reality check if I couldn’t hang anymore.
So, over a period of four months, I went to randomly selected auditions that would allow me to get to the bottom of the mystery. At the first one, I landed two callbacks and moved up until the fourth cut. This was a major ego boost since all I wanted was to be seen and not given the “thanks, but no thanks” spiel. I didn’t get the part, but I did have the opportunity to hear my competition and realized I could hang with the best of them with a little work. I bailed on the next audition due to doubt and nerves. But, after returning to work again, I realized that if I continued to be lame, I would end up right back at my beautiful beige desk again … wishing for five o’clock at about … 8:05am each day. A month later, I showed up at another audition, committed to it, and got the callback and the final offer!
I leaped at the chance and here I am. After a hectic, crazy, three-week rehearsal process, working through the kinks, I now sing for my daily bread. For the most part, I’ve adjusted to being in a new city taking on a new role. I’m losing weight, I feel lighter emotionally, and simply feel more focused and driven again. While it definitely wasn’t the easiest decision, it was the right risk to take even with the angst of making such a huge change. For those of you wondering, “How could you walk away from all those years of experience and start all over?” it wasn’t easy. In order to stay current with the latest trends in health care and counseling, I’m transferring my license and will continue working contract to keep up my skills. Also, I know that if performing opportunities begin to wane and the offers dry up, I still have my secret weapon, my education to fall back on.
If I didn’t take the risk, I’d probably wonder “what if” the rest of my life. And I’m thankful that I’ve taken one step forward in breaking the terrible habit of continuing to do things because I can or just because someone else asks me to. Everyone’s work situation and motives are different, but one thing is true. Just because you do something well, and you commit to it, doesn’t mean that it’s your passion. This was an important lesson for me as I realized that I was out of position, and only a strategic move would help to get me out of the rut. While your change may not be as extreme as moving out of state to pursue another career, it will require that you plan to make small, medium, and large risks of your own. I look at it this way, if I never took this leap, I may have never moved at all. And since I never want to wonder “what if,” now I can say, “what’s next?!”