What Color is my Effing Parachute?

(Originally posted September 19, 2010 on blogspot.)

Last week I was talking to a friend of mine about her boyfriend, who was in a bit of a career crisis. He had decided to turn down a job opportunity that wasn’t shaping up as promised, and he was deciding what he wanted to be when he grew up. As we talked about it, I realized out-loud that I had never really been through that. I decided at 16 years old that I wanted to be a music teacher. Since then, I have earned a bachelors degree and two masters degrees in vocal music education. I have taught in public schools, private schools, colleges, theatre companies, preschool programs, youth choirs… I have taught music and theatre in nearly every capacity possible. I planned, as we talked, to blog about my career choice. About how it is one element of my life that seems constant and secure. Not the specific jobs- I can go months without knowing where I’ll teach next. But the field. Performing arts education. That has always seemed to be the right choice for me.

And then. The very next day.

It was just one of those rough days. A series of unrelated events left me feeling unappreciated, and misunderstood, and very alone. And I was reminded how thankless it can be to work in the arts. Thankless, and not very lucrative. When I’m paid at all. And I started to wonder why I did what I did. And I cried. Because that’s what I do.

Then I reached out to a couple friends, who talked me through it a little, and made me feel better. A little. Then, I actually taught a couple classes. And suddenly, I remembered. I am really really good at my job.

This week alone, I taught someone what a repeat sign means so she could better follow her church choir music. I played the keyboard at a one-year-old’s birthday party. I accompanied six classes for babies and toddlers. I gave a young adult her very first piano lesson. I led a meeting which determined fundraising plans for a theatre group that means a whole lot to a whole lot of people, and I wrote a residency proposal for that group. I led a music class for six moms with babies who are less than a year old. I started a glee club for elementary school girls, and in one hour I had those nine little girls improvising a scene from the Sound of Music and performing “Do, Re, Mi” with Kodaly hand signals. And in the past three days, I have taught 26 voice lessons to women really passionate about singing barbershop.

It might not be a typical week, (OK, I don’t think I have ever had a week like this before…) but it does make me realize. My job is pretty cool. And, now that I think about it, it’s probably important.

This feels like one of the most egocentric posts I have ever written. “Look at me and all the cool stuff I do!” But quite frankly, I needed to see it all spelled out in front of me. Because it can be really, really hard. I was gently reminded the other day by a friend that most things worth doing are hard.

So. What are you doing with your life that’s hard? It’s probably really important to someone.

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