‘I can see clearly now the rain is gone… I can see all obstacles in my way… Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind… Gonna be a bright, bright sunshiney day!’ – Johnny Nash
I recently had lasereye surgery to correct one eye for distance vision, and this song keeps playing over and over in my head. Now, as I recover, it is a huge relief to be able to see without glasses! As my vision clears, I feel clarity in my life direction and perspective as well. Read on for soul-baring, vulnerable sharing.
I’ve struggled for a long time wondering where I fit in life and why certain things have happened on my path to lead me to where I am today. Most recently, I have struggled with where I fit in the music world as a performer: opera singer? Choral singer? Occasional soloist? IT chick with random party tricks that can be whipped out at conferences and karaoke night? I’ve sung since I was 4, from solos in school to choral singing to church gigs, weddings, national anthems, opera and everything in between. I always thought my dream was to be an opera singer; it was something that seemed destined to happen and kept coming around in my life as teachers and mentors came out of the woodwork, taught me amazing skills and encouraged me. The beauty of the opera music took me to emotional places I’d never reached before, and the sheer complexity of producing these massive artistic masterpieces intrigued me. Plus, I had talent, reslience and drive to make it happen – recipe for success, right? Maybe not.
Last summer I almost quit singing entirely. I was frustrated, felt I couldn’t do anything right and I felt hopeless that I would never get to where I needed to be because there were so many things wrong with my voice, that I needed to overcome before I would be worthy of certain coaches or teachers time. I overanalysed what I needed to do to improve and became overwhelmed. I felt my worth as a human was based on my ability to succeed at singing an aria well and I kept failing and losing confidence in myself as the summer progressed, even though deep down I knew I was growing as an artist and playing catch up against people who had done this in university, young artist programs and more. My personal life was in shambles and I felt like I wanted to crawl in a cave and never come out. Some days my voice just wouldn’t work when I wanted it to. I was in a dark place. Thank goodness for the support of amazing friends last summer.
I realize today that I am so much more than just my voice. It is an huge part of my identity as a human and one of the gifts that I’ve been given, but I enjoy so many other things in life that I can’t imagine focusing only on that. I would be chasing something that may never happen, that depends on luck and sacrificing so many other amazing things that life has to offer. It has taken a long time for me to be OK with that. It’s still hard to say because my inner demons come out and I feel like a phony; like I gave up, and that I am not a true artist because I’m not sacrificing everything I have for this when so many people have believed in me and supported me on this journey.
Honestly, being a full time opera singer is not my path, but I think the pursuit of it has played an integral part in helping me find myself and what makes me happy. It lead me to teaching singing and piano, which I adore. A few weeks ago, I had dinner with my friend Jillian in London, and she said something like ‘If you focused on just singing, would it be a disservice to those around you since you give to others in so many different ways?’… That struck me. I’ve always known I’m a ‘jack of all trades master of none’ type person, but I hadn’t thought of myself from that perspective. Thank you Jillian!
I’ve realized that being a full time opera singer – while I love it and plan to continue performing as I’m able – may no longer be my dream. It has morphed into something different, and that’s ok! I still want to sing, work on my craft and be a great artist, but I also want to give back to others, have a fun, vibrant life, travel, and continue growing my career in IT where I can mentor young women.
I certainly haven’t got it all figured out yet, but the pieces of my life seem to continue to fall into place and I feel like I’m where I should be today. Some days it’s hard not knowing what lies ahead with me in music but… One day at a time. Clarity comes with time and experience, or… laser surgery. 🙂
Thanks for reading!