The people reading this probably already know that I took an audition a couple of weeks ago for the President's Own Marine Band. I really wanted the job. I mean, it's in my top list of dream jobs. I'm a bit of an optimist and daydreamer, and I could see all of my dreams unfolding in my head at the mere thought of getting this job. I would think, I'll get this job, I'll be performing full-time, I won't have to save every penny, and eventually I'll have enough money to get my own place, get another horn, get my doctorate, and I'll be in one area settled for some time so maybe I could become established as both a musician and dancer in one area, I even already have friends in DC, and I can finally be in one place long enough to actually have a personal life, and maybe even find my future husband, and we can settle in the DC, and I'll finally have health insurance, and I can pay back my loans, and...
Wait, I didn't even advance past the first round. Derp.
I really did dream up that scenario. I really did fantasize about my whole life falling into place pending I won this job. I think a lot of people do this. Now, you'd think I'd have been devastated not making it past the first round, especially since I advanced last year, and I advanced in a couple other auditions this year too... but for some reason, I wasn't. I mean, I had my moment where I cried in the bathroom, but that's all I needed (I firmly believe in not holding emotions back - find a safe way to release them or else they will build up inside of you and come out at the worst possible moment).
I then started to question why I wasn't devastated. I know this may seem silly to some to question a good thing, but I wanted to analyze why I was totally fine, even after dreaming up my ideal life connected to this audition. I knew something about me was different.
Technically, I've been out of school and on my own for two and a half years. But my first year out of school, I still worked for USF as a bus driver (having a Masters degree doesn't make your need to eat any less!), so I was still somewhat in the cocoon of campus and a regular paycheck (albeit a VERY small paycheck). I had occasional orchestra and quintet gigs, but my main occupation was driving the bus. I've only been a full-time freelance musician for about a year and a half, and this is the time I've truly considered myself to be "out on my own" because I'm actually in my chosen career field now. Being self-employed has taken me to a whole new level of organization and responsibility.
Being on your own in this manner is different than being in school, even if you are completely financially independent while in school. No one tells me what to practice anymore, yet I find there is not enough time to practice everything I want. I don't always have 4-5 hours a day to practice, but I practice more efficiently now. I don't have a regular teacher, yet I constantly find things to improve. No one tells me to read anymore, yet I've read more books since I've been out of school than I did when I was in school. I don't have a free campus gym anymore, but I'm in great shape. I have hardly anyone to discuss politics with, yet I am more active in reading or listening to the news and having opinions than ever before. I have less friends and spend the majority of my free time alone, but I feel more compassionate overall. I speak up more in my quintet rehearsals. I don't accept it if people talk down to me. I am no longer embarrassed about my thoughts and opinions, even if they are non-conformist or even strange. I know many people in school that do these sorts of things, but these are all things that I personally did not do in school. I have improved on my own, not just as a player, but as a person. I know this and I feel good about this, and I think this is the biggest reason that I wasn't absolutely devastated by my unsuccessful audition. I'm still me and I came out in one piece!
Despite not advancing in the audition for my dream job, I feel more confident than ever. In fact, I think disappointments like this are very important to my personal development. I went into the audition confident, and I came out confident, but also humbled and more determined.
It also helps that I've seen other disappointments in my life blossom into enormous blessings. When I was young, I was constantly told I was too big for ballet and that I would never dance professionally. But when I got older, I started Middle Eastern dance mainly because of its culture of body acceptance, and now that is one of my life's great passions (and it keeps me in great shape so I can play tuba better). I got rejected from all of the grad schools to which I applied in the north, but later on I accepted an assistantship at USF. My lessons with Jay took me to the next level, and had I not still been in Florida during those years, I would have none of my current employment, and there would be so many amazing people that I wouldn't know.
Who knows what the future will bring? I could win a job or get hit by a truck. I'm realizing that, in the past, all I thought about was my future - who I was going to be, where I was going to live, where I was going to work, and as much as I hate to admit it, who I would settle down with. Of course it's important to have dreams and goals and to work towards them, but I always felt unsatisfied with the present because I never stopped thinking about the future long enough to enjoy the present. I still have so much work do to on myself, both as a person and as a player, but I feel like I'm on the right track. I'm far from being perfect, and I'll never be perfect, but I will never stop learning.
Some of you may be wondering why I'm being so candid, especially since I'm a fairly private person in the online realm (I'm always 100% real in person though, and those that know me personally will probably laugh reading this sentence). I'm writing this not only to release my emotions and metaphorically pat myself on the back, but I'm writing in hopes that someone else struggling with job/future obsession will read it, and take a step back and realize that his/her life is actually totally awesome RIGHT NOW.
I'm living in a house that is old and falling apart because the rent is cheap, but I can practice here all I want and my neighbors don't care, and I can give lessons here when I need to. I don't have a DMA, but I'm free to go back to school when I'm ready. I'm not rich, but I'm financially independent. I'm having more fun dancing, and I cherish long phone conversations with friends and family that are far away. I'm single, but it's Saturday night, and I ordered a pizza online and ate half of it in my bed - and no one (except maybe you all now) is judging me, and I didn't have to share it with anyone.
Life is awesome - and I have a feeling it's only going to get better.