In January I learned what I always suspected: Sometimes money comes at too high a cost for me. Three months earlier I’d left the choir where I’d been for a few years and at the time there was nothing available in the arts so I took a job with a company that provided tutoring for at-risk teenagers. By January I knew this wouldn’t be a long term fit. They said I’d be in the nonprofit wing and I wasn’t, they were committing fraud, and were more concerned with profits than people.
Sometimes a job is just a job, but at least I could use it to support the things that mattered to me and focus on what I loved. I went to more museums and shows, I even sought out opportunities to support artists in part time work. Then in June I serendipitously came across an announcement for the Emeryville Celebration of the Arts. The annual exhibition was still accepting submissions and this made me wonder: what makes someone an artist?
At the choir my boss told me that I wasn’t a musician because I wasn’t a professional performer. I let this narrow view discourage me but now I was rethinking these labels. I’ve studied music for most of my life, I earned my degree in performance, I love practicing for hours and the feeling of playing something just right, so yes I am a musician. I reasoned that by this measure I must be an artist as well. I applied, launched my website, sold my work, took commissions and was accepted to the exhibition.
Building up all this positivity and creative energy made being at my day job that much harder and my self confidence that much stronger. With all the negativity in the world I try to live mindfully and decrease my own footprint where I can. I couldn’t change things but I could walk away with my integrity. So I started looking for a new job back in the nonprofit performing arts that would feed my spirit and add some beauty to the world.
In September I found my perfect fit at a job I couldn’t have imagined if a genie had asked me. I took a paycut but it’s been completely worth it and I’m gaining so much more experience and truly happy with my work. I’ve kept creating more art, sold in a craft fair and am now showing in a gallery. I had my first professional headshot taken and boy was that an experience. In so many ways it’s been an incredible year for me!
People say “change is hard” and I guess in a lot of ways it is, but what’s so bad about hard? The best things worth having take work. You need change and hard work to grow, so what’s the alternative? In a nice twist of fate I also had my first paid gig last month. It wasn’t my best performance but I’m proud I put myself out there. Sometimes you need to tolerate being a beginner and not be afraid of messing up in order to get to somewhere better. I think it’s pretty safe to say that by anyone’s measure I am both a musician and an artist. Happy new year everyone, here’s to 2016!