*WARNING: possible presence of touchy-feely clichés ahead*
"A career in music is too risky." ~ "Do you have a back-up plan for when it doesn't work out?" ~ "I'd suggest considering a business degree instead." ~ "Do you want to be the next Britney Spears?" ~ "Careful of pipe dreams, kiddo, they cause a lot of pain when you inevitably don't get what you want." ~ "You'll regret this when you have no stability in your older years." ~ "You better get yourself a rich man, honey." ~ "You'll find your way back to the real world eventually....but you'll have wasted a lot of time playing around and everyone will be ahead of you." ~ "Grow up." ~ "But.....how will you have children?" ~ " A hobby should not be confused with a career." ~ "Will you play me Freebird?"
And so the chorus of Nay-sayers rang on and on and on. Not that this should come as any kind of surprise.....we don't exactly live in a culture that makes self-employment anything short of terrifying. Or affordable. And I'm sorry, did you just say self-employment in the ARTS? As a single WOMAN? Ha! Cue the awkward disbelieving laughter, the loss of eye contact and the change of subject to the existence of stable state jobs with benefits, sick leave, and--novelty of all novelties--a retirement package.
But that was then.
This is now. Exactly 5 years later after I finally plugged my ears against the deafening internal and external NO's, walked away from the day job I was so "smart" to have, and threw my hat for better or worse into the ring of the professional freelancers full time. Just like that......5 YEARS gone. Half a decade, guys! It hit me like a ton of bricks the other day....I did it. Not 'I did it' in the sense that I've achieved all there is to achieve, or that I've hit the ceiling of my own goals. FAR from it. 'I did it' in the sense that I dared a terrifying leap of faith and followed my crazy heart, and I have now officially seen that risk rewarded tenfold times what my fearful brain was capable of hoping for. I still may not stick with this forever. It's not a cakewalk of flowers and campfire songs, it's a blood, sweat and tears type of fight everyday and I may not want that forever. Hell, I may change careers and aspirations another six times in my life. But I'll do it now with the knowledge and the certainty that I CAN. I'll do it with a brand new viewpoint on fear, on doubt, on risks worth taking in this life, and even on my own self. If nothing else, I hope this serves as an encouragement to anyone else tempted to throw off the mass definitions and expectations this society places on us every day and to pioneer a brave path for themselves that makes their own heart sing. It will take everything you've got and then some, but you SHOULD try, you SHOULD go for it. Because, you know what? Eventually that chorus of nay-sayers turns to a chorus of atta-boys and pats on the back, and even the occasional wistful "gee, what's it like to be your own boss?" So, why even listen to begin with? You're the only one who's going to have to look back on your life and deal with how it was spent. Know thyself, one life to live, against all odds, follow your dreams, and all that jazz.
A wise man once said, " Most fears aren't real in the way you think they are. They're just a story you tell yourself, and you can choose to stop repeating it. Choose to stop listening." Easier said than done, but god is it worth it, even just to know you tried.
Go for it, my friends. Whatever it is, go for it.