I didn’t know I was going to be a writer until last summer.
Up until recently, I’ve dedicated my life to classical music. For over a decade, it defined my identity and perfecting my craft was the light of my life.
I performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City when I was 16. I shared a stage with some of the best young musicians the world had to offer. I prepared for the performance in a green room that had dozens of posters of the iconic musicians that had played the same venue. I partied on a yacht on the Hudson river to celebrate the performance. I started college at 17, as a double music performance major. As a cellist and a bassist, I was determined to dedicate my time to mastering both instruments. As a result, I moved to Los Angeles at 18 to continue my education.
My time in Los Angeles was spent practicing, performing, and finding myself at The Ritz with connections to a successful start-up.
Trust me, I struggle to believe my own stories when I retell them, too.
Months later, a long list of circumstances would lead me to driving back to the Midwest with $8 to my name. I spent the next two years trying to figure out who I was if I wasn’t going to be a musician. On average, I worked 60 hours a week in commission sales. There was a period where I was working three jobs for nearly 80 hours a week. I’ve watched my back in dark parking lots, careful to not draw attention from my older male coworkers. I’ve been told that a customer wants to work with someone else because I’m too young, too inexperienced, too much of a girl. Despite all of that nonsense, I was consistently top in sales. If working on commission taught me anything beyond what my own personal hell would look like, it was the ability to communicate with absolutely anyone.
At 20, I lived alone, I bought a new car, and I decided that I wanted to go back to school.
At the time of writing, I’m close to finishing my first year as a Journalism major. After having not written an essay in over four years, I had a 4.0 for my first semester. I’ve learned that it’s okay if you have to google “Where do I put my name in MLA” to get the job done. I’ve worked two jobs for the majority of the year and I’ve just made the jump to get paid solely from writing.
One of my closest friends recently told me that I’ve lived three lifetimes in the span of the last 20 years. I like to tell her that I’m just getting started.
It’s not that I don’t know the feeling of failure. I know it quite well, which is why I’m not afraid of it. Failure and I enjoy evening strolls through the local park. We wake up together on Sunday morning. We drink wine on Wednesday nights.
If I can ever find the money, I’d like to go to grad school. I’d love to have “Dr.” in front of my name someday, too.
But I’m committed to continue learning outside of the classroom. I’m not interested in suburbia, a white picket fence, or motherhood, for that matter. I want to travel. I want to learn. I want to explore. I want to make meaning from the world around me and encourage others to do the same.
More than anything, my biggest goal is to find myself in a position where it’s okay to speak up. To be flexible. To disagree. To analyze. One of my school teachers told me that if they asked the class to think right, I would find a way to be upside-down. I hope I never lose that.
I want to serve as an example to the women that have decided that the world is much too large for them. I want to teach them that just because someone is louder than you, doesn’t mean that you should never speak up. That it’s okay if “soccer mom” isn’t at the top of your list of achievements. It doesn’t make you less of a woman and it doesn’t make you any less wonderful.
And that if you can’t find yourself a spot at the table, pull up a chair. We’ve got work to do.