You're Doing It Wrong: Do What You Love
We’ve all seen our fair share of reality singing competitions over the past ten years or so, for better or for worse. There are many different personality types on these shows, but there’s one in particular that started bothering me: the person who truly believes that the world owes it to them to make them famous, because their voice is a golden gift that everyone on Earth deserves to hear since it will change life as we know it for the better. The audition is life-or-death, because music is what they love most in the world and they couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
These are people who feel completely entitled to fame because it’s only fair that their formidable talents be heard by as many people as possible. These are people who, if they wrote up their resumé, would probably include their singing gigs as volunteer hours since their voices are charity to the world's ears.
The Cold, Hard Truth
Look, I think there actually are people whose vocal chords really can change lives, but I think it’s a bit pompous to decide that about your own voice. This isn’t a post about pomposity, though. The thing is, these people just don’t feel satisfied creating art and doing what they were “born to do” unless it reaches the masses and they make a living while doing it. So what is it about that mindset that doesn’t sit right with me? I’ve spent a good portion of my life actively pursuing a career in music, so I’m not criticizing the idea of turning your passion, whatever it might be, into a full-time job. And there have been plenty of times in my life when I was appalled at the thought of ever being OK with not trying to be a full-time musician. I know what it's like when a single opportunity feels life-or-death.
But here is a universal fact: everyone, every single person in the world, would like to make a living doing what they love. Some people are lucky enough to make that happen, and I admire their perseverance and business savvy. But a large number of us (creative types especially) have to acknowledge at some point that we may never get the fame and fortune we dreamed of as kids. Not that we have to give up, mind you–just to acknowledge the fact that the odds are against us. And yet this seeming admission of defeat may just wind up being one of the most important moments of our lives, as there’s an opportunity within the vulnerability to realize that even if we never “make it” in the way we always hoped we would, there’s no reason why we can’t still be satisfied, happy, and proud of our lives. And without being distracted by thoughts of fame and success, it’s easy to discover the fact that all of that happiness and satisfaction stuff–as lofty a goal as it may seem–is actually incredibly simple.
Why Nothing Else Matters
So here’s the deal, the cold, hard, simple truth that smacked me over the head like a [insert-clever-metaphor-here]: Being able to do what you love, at all, in any capacity, is enough. In fact, it’s a privilege to even know what you love to do (or who you love to be with) and to have the ability to do it. If you’ve really, truly found what you love, it shouldn’t matter if a single other person acknowledges it, even though someone very likely will. If you have any opportunity to do what you love, or be with who you love, you do it, whenever you can. You embrace every chance you get, even if it’s only part of the time and for no money or recognition.
Your life will be full. Nothing else will matter. And you will be eternally grateful to have found something so beautiful. As a result, you will live a more beautiful life, inadvertently contribute to a more beautiful world, and, coincidentally, that will be a gift that everyone everywhere can enjoy.