Friday, March 1, 2013

Using the past to empower the future

Music school left me feeling very bitter. About school. About friends. About music. When I dropped out I swore off music and all the things in my life that reminded me of the time I spent there. This was short lived, but even now, almost three years later, I still have a slightly bitter taste in my mouth when I talk about that time in my life.

Although I have yet to truly reembrace music (and I'm not sure that I will ever want the same things I wanted then), I have occasionally tested the waters. I spent some time gigging in my home town, and for a while I thought that I wanted to be a musician after all. I liked the attention and the praise, but I still really hated the lifestyle. And treating music as a business took away all of the joy and the art. So I swore off music again.

I have sung in public four times in the past two years. And yet, I still have people come up to me on an almost daily basis to compliment me on my voice. If I had a nickel for everytime someone told me, "I remember when you sang at [fill in the blank]" I would...have a lot of nickels.

For a long time, this recognition made me sad. I felt that the Universe was trying to guilt me back into music. Then, in periods where I have felt underappreciated, these comments lifted me back up, riding on my former glory. Neither of these feelings represent a healthy approach to the past.

I'm in this class right now all about careers (no wonder the subject is on my brain). Most weeks we have guest speakers. This past week, our guest was a representative from the local library system. She made her job sound awesome. It was a great talk, and it made me think that I might want to work for the library some day. Let it also be said, that I have a similar reaction to all of the speakers, "I could do that!" Optimism is great, but this isn't really a career epiphany. What I really took away from the library spokeswoman were the names she mentioned.

During her presentation she mentioned the names of several people that she works with. I knew every person she was talking about, not because they were local celebrities (although some of them certainly are), but because I have had personal interactions with them. The really important part about this is how I knew each of these people. They were all connections I had made as a singer. I thought to myself, I could probably talk to that person and use them as a reference.

Aside from the possibility of getting a job at the library (cool by itself), this gave me a valuable lesson. Use your past to empower your future. OK, I may never classify myself as a musician again, but I don't have to disown that part of my past. I can use the experiences and the connections from that time to create opportunities in my future. If people already know me and like me because of my voice, then they will be more receptive to liking me for other skills. So there you have it, never discount even the bad parts of your past, because none of them are entirely bad.

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