Clarity, of a professional persuasion

I had a conversation a few weeks ago with a pal, and it made me realize that I should maybe clarify a few points about this little project of mine.

This space is, at its best, meant to be a place to share encouragement and tales of career-shifting for folks who started out their careers intending to pursue the arts.

There are lots of people who persevered in following their dream, and have attained that initial goal – I am continually in awe of those folks. (The aforementioned pal is a model of quiet focus and creativity, and has built a significant career on the strength of her artistic talents. She’s the bomb.)

I didn’t have that kind of clarity as a student. I wanted to be a Jack-of-all-Trades (but highly successful at everything I tried, naturally…ah, youth.), and college made me aware of a multitude of different goals rather than focusing my attention on a single goal.

But to all of you, my pals and acquaintances who are making lives as performers and art-makers, we’re proud of you – I’M proud of you. Your success in this crazy field, in this even-crazier economy is really something to crow about. And I know that many of you have been asked to talk about the how-to of your careers with students at the outsets of theirs – “How did you get from point A to point B? How much did you have to practice? How long did it take to get your first break? Is it all luck? Should I throw in the towel before I start?”

It was difficult for me to find people to whom I could ask those questions, mostly because it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up (Honestly, I’m still not 100% sure; but I’m pretty durn happy where I am.), and because I knew that I wasn’t going to be a performer long before I acknowledged it publicly.

So, through examining other folks’ winding career paths, I am hoping to acknowledge two things:

  1. That, even though I’m not performing, I consider myself a successful adult. It took me a while to figure it out, but I’m better for doing it, and ultimately happy.
  2. That my arts training – 80% of it – I still use, in various ways, every day. Organization, collaborative skills, public speaking…and in my case, a lot of the musical skills/knowledge, too.

The point is to reframe how those of us who are not primarily performing/art making define success, how we keep our hand in, and to celebrate the haphazard paths that make our lives richer for the detours.


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