When I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance and began to embark on a performance career, I went to visit very close friends. She was leaving the Philadelphia area to go to Law School in Boston. She had a party at her home with her husband and I met many of their friends who came to say good-bye. I can’t remember the person’s name or what her relationship was to my lifelong friend. I do remember a discussion that we had. It has roamed around my mind for years, only recently striking me with what it really meant.
I told this other young professional woman about what I was doing. She recalled my performance at the wedding of our hosts, my friend and her then husband. She said something to the effect that everyone was doing these big great careers — doctor, lawyer, banker, computer scientist and on and on. “But, you,” she said, are “doing what everyone else wishes they could do. You are brave to embark on something so unknown, unproven and risky.”
I guess at that time in my early to mid-twenties and in a naïve haze of I just don’t get what you mean, I said it was no big deal. I just did it because I thought this was what I was supposed to do. It was how others saw me and directed me. Striking to me is I don’t remember saying, “I have to do this,” or “I must do this.” A few years later, I read quotes from an old bel canto maestro who said, “Don’t sing unless you would die if you didn’t.” I got that then, I really did, but I never felt it. Did I have something to say? Absolutely, and I still do. Are there many creative outlets for talent and expression? Yes, without doubt.
So what does my reflection after all of this time and experience tell me? I do think you shouldn’t do anything in the performing arts unless you would die if you didn’t. It is all-consuming and demanding and just plain hard and competitive. There are many with talent and it takes much more than just talent. I do think you must have something to say. Actually, many people have something to say. It is finding the right vehicle that is a challenge.
Do I think I was brave? Well, in retrospect, yes, you bet, and maybe a bit crazy or naïve at the least.
Putting oneself out there in the world and expressing their innermost self takes courage. It takes a medium through which you can express understandably to all. You must be able to connect. In all these years and experiences, I learned to be more brave to express my true thoughts and feelings. For some, this comes easily, for some, especially those who are more cerebral like me, not so much.
Now saying what I believe is pretty easy. I worry so much less about what someone else will think and much more about promoting what I believe is true and right. Creative expression is a journey. It is one that never ends and one that has no perfection. It is one of evolution, and process and yes, bravery to put yourself out there for the world to explore.