So. Boyfriend and I just moved to The City. We’re going to start an ensemble and work fascinating side jobs and hopefully make a difference in music by doing something other than exactly what’s expected of art music, because what’s expected of art music is what’s killing it. I’m excited, and I hope we’ll be able to do something meaningful. I really want to, because we’re investing everything we’ve got in it. It won’t work unless we do.
I have visions of us, years from now, arriving at glittering cocktail parties as the most intimidatingly, brilliantly important people in the room because of what we’ve accomplished. I see us struggling for years, poor and cold and lonely, but eventually making an impact because what we have to say is important, and we’ve found a way to say it that makes sense. (I know it sounds cliché and starry-eyed, but I really do hope…) I see a fantastic career for myself—not what I envisioned, but maybe even better—rather than this faltering, uncertain half-career I’ve been having so far.
But holy crap, I’m scared.
What if this turns out to be a terrible idea? What if we’re just putting off the inevitable and someday Boyfriend and I do end up living far apart anyway because we fail and he has to get a job at East Bumfuck Community College and I have to take whatever I can get? What if I can’t get anything and I end up freelancing once a month with the Bumfuck Philharmonic and teaching kids who couldn’t give a single booger they just dug out of their nose about the violin?
What if we fail at this, but we sink so much time and effort into it that we fall out of practice at what we intended to do all along? It’s not so problematic for Boyfriend–composers’ styles change all the time. But what if I’m so busy with our music (and freelancing and day-job-working) that I’m not ready with my excerpts when that One Big Job comes along? The one I know I can and should win, someday? What if I never get the job I’ve always wanted because I was concentrating on something else?
What if, even worse and even more likely, we get sucked into our day jobs? What if we let this dream fade away because we need money and security? The salaried, somewhat pleasant positions we’ve gotten will definitely offer that. What if I end up hardly ever performing because I’m working another job? What if Boyfriend stops composing because he needs to buy us nice things? They might be nice jobs. They might even be great jobs. But what if we lose our drive and we become bitter because we let it go? What if something’s always missing?
That one’s my biggest fear. It seems the easiest, most insidious. And by far the worst.
I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Who DOESN’T have that feeling at some point in their twenties? That the choices you’re making are never going to lead you where you want to be? That permanent failure and life-ruination is just one tiny misstep away? Especially when, like me, you’re about to leave the safety of school and everything you know and understand and actually try to make a life. Even scarier, we’re trying to leave the prescribed path (whatever it is), and however closely we’ll be treading to its established route, that makes it all the more terrifying.
I know everyone feels this way. But every so often, when I’m thinking about the enormity of what we’re about to do, it crushes me. It terrifies me. And it surprises me that I’m so scared.
Several months ago, my best friend H graduated from Really Famous School with a year-long contract at an opera company in Germany. It’s an unbelievable dream job, and absolutely a good move in her career. She’s definitely on the classic I’m-becoming-a-famous-opera-singer track—she’s already one of our generation’s best singers, and I don’t just say that because I love her. But still, when we talked right before she left, she told me part of her wished she didn’t have to go. She has a life and the beginnings of a career here, and she was nervous that leaving now might destroy everything she already had.
Obviously, it’s not enough to call anything off. H went to Germany. Boyfriend and I moved to our chosen City. She’s singing her first real German season, and we got pretty much exactly the day jobs we wanted. We’re trying to figure out where we stand in this new place, to establish ourselves and break into the new music scene. We’re doing our best to do what we set out to do.
And god, am I scared.