I’ve been thinking a lot about my trip to Europe as this week marks 6 months since I’ve returned to the States. The reason I came back when I did was because I had a plan to begin a new life back home. A plan which consisted of changes I would make in my personal life, my school life, and in my future career. I am happy to announce: so far, so good! But I wouldn’t be saying that if I didn’t make some important life changes.
My entire life up until the time I left for Europe was spent pursuing a career as a musician. I started piano lessons at 8, spent all of middle school and high school in school bands and theatre, and used my money from waitressing to pay for vocal lessons when I was 17.
I did open mic nights, sang at coffee shops, and even got the opportunity to sing at College Fashion Week in New York City. I was doing everything I was supposed to do as an aspiring musician, but I wasn’t happy because I wasn’t doing any of it for myself.
At some point, I stopped enjoying music and began doing it just to prove to my critics I could do it. To the friends who laughed, to the director who always casted me as an extra, or to that songwriting teacher who disliked everything I produced. The only force that drove me to practice or perform were the people who doubted me.
Knowing that definitely felt a bit uneasy, but it was after a meeting I had with a professor that I realized something needed to be done. I could see into my future and it was filled with unhappiness and regret, whether I made it as a musician or not. I needed to make some serious life changes.
Soon after, I was presented with the opportunity to backpack Europe, which sounded amazing but would also require me to take an unknown amount of time off of school. My initial answer was hell no because how could I disappoint everyone around me by delaying my college graduation? How could I take everyone by surprise when admitting to them that this lifelong passion of mine was no longer a passion? How could I come out from behind the façade of confidence I’ve been known to have by admitting that I was lost?
Again, I was thinking about what other people would think of the idea and not me.
There is a stigma against thoughts of uncertainty in young people. We are expected to know it all at such a young age! We have to graduate college in 4 years, get a job to pay our loans off, and before you know it, we’re 65, married with grandchildren, and suffering from arthritis. The time to have fun and really “live” is when we need a suitcase just for medications!
I have always refused to live my life like that, yet I found myself brainwashed and caught up in society’s way of thinking by immediately wanting to shut down the Europe idea. I couldn’t shake that vision of myself working in a cubicle for the next 30 years though. Sitting there miserable, regretting not taking that risk and making a change when the offer was right in front of my face.
That is what made me say yes to Europe. I thought of it as a personal journey of discovery. I would take this time to remove myself from the environment I was used to, take away all luxuries, immerse myself into a new culture, and learn things about myself I would have never thought possible.
When everything you know is gone, you realize what you care about the most. Music wasn’t one of them for me. But, I found myself writing more, admiring fashionable women on the streets, and finally learning how to French braid my hair. I also found myself studying the gowns in the window of a dress shop in Madrid and imagining myself one day having the opportunity to wear something as beautiful.
I realized that the marriage of glamour and creation is what I live for. Making myself and the space around me the truest visual representation of what is in my head is what I love to do and it’s what I want to share with the world.
I took this realization and sat on it for awhile thinking about how I could execute it once I got back to the States. Changing my major at school, starting this blog, and not constantly forcing myself to write or play music was apart of the plan. I touched down at JFK Airport back in February and since then, I have been more excited than ever about what my future holds.
It was all because of one risk I took. A very scary one, but one I now know was completely worth it. Without those days waking up in hostels and spending hours roaming beautiful cities in the same ratty boots and jeans, I would probably be sitting here miserable forcing myself to pen a Grammy award-winning song.
Now skipping school and hopping on a plane to London may not be everybody’s cure to life’s difficulties, but I can say that taking a step back from everything and re-evaluating your life can make a big difference. When you feel uneasy or unhappy with the way your life is going, it’s time to make some life changes, whether the people around you approve or not. After all, you are the only one in control of your happiness and success!