The Live Your Legend writing prompt today asked me to think about something I’ve done and accomplished; something I’m proud of. I’ve got to admit, for the first time in this blog challenge, I slipped back into over-prepare mode: an old habit that has held me back from getting things done in the past. The self-critic in me leapt into action (inaction?) with a “You haven’t done anything really that deserves writing about.” I responded with a formerly characteristic knee-jerk reaction, and off I went trawling through my Facebook posts from years ago, my old emails, Google, whatever: in search of the ‘golden achievement’.
Down the rabbit hole I went. Down the drainhole went my valuable minutes, and subsequently, nearly a couple of hours (good thing I started this challenge on my study break!). Then I made a bright decision: “Hmm, maybe I should reread the LYL Day 4 challenge.” “Yeah, maybe you should, genius!” said my inner Genius.
I read through the three inspiring case studies of Scott, Mike and Leo, and the words of encouragement by the LYL team. I was reminded again of what was important about the challenge: take the first step, and then take another, and so on. And so here I am, now actually writing something. The other words in there that helped me particularly were, “The point is giving yourself the chance to welcome the serendipity.” Ha. BOOM! What was I doing wrong? Well, if you consider Merriam-Webster’s suggestion that ‘serendipity’ is ‘luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for’, I was not giving myself that chance at all with my panicked search for valuable things in my emails and Facebook feed.
The thing is, my best achievements came from the aforementioned ‘taking one step, then another, and so on’. And the achievement I choose, is my becoming a respected local live musician for a living. Yeah, I am proud of that. Proud that despite the fact I left starting that journey a couple of decades longer than I ideally might have, at least I did start taking the steps to turn a love of music and a knowing that I had something to offer, into a career.
Those steps that I’d call action and not just ‘overpreparation’? Well, it’d have to be when I first answered an advertisement to join a band at the age of 31. At the time, despite having taken sporadic singing lessons for years, I had very rudimentary musical skills. Over the next few years I kept learning and developing my voice. I began actually doing the consistent work I needed to do to grow with a goal in mind: to be a professional musician. Before long, in addition to singing I picked up the guitar and began building on what was a very basic and unmusical palette of skills acquired to date. I learned how to build a set list, how to operate a small P.A., how to arrange songs, guitar maintenance, working with others, learning about the history of popular music. As we began to get gigs after a couple of years, I started learning how not to be petrified with fear onstage, and to move ahead to learning how to read audiences and entertain them with songs that were right for the moment.
I went on to work with different musicians, and got to the point myself where I could ably provide sole musical accompaniment for other singers or just myself. I picked up regular work thanks to my friendships and connections with other musos, venue managers, and local venue agents. By 2012, I was working reasonably regular gigs, and I had a great part-time job as a local sales and customer representative for a wonderful Australian company run by people I respected and admired.
However I was restless. I felt something needed to change, but didn’t know what or why. Then in November 2012, I stumbled upon a blog with something in it that spoke to me: the ‘Should I Quit test’. To cut an already long-winded story, by December, I had quit, and became a full-time musician. To me, that was a ‘wow’ moment in my life, and one I’d given up on ever happening years before.
So I am proud of this achievement in my life. I also know only too well it came with the support and encouragement of many people in my life, including my husband, my mum, my work colleagues at the time, and my music colleagues and clients, and also a stranger: one I’d only met through his words in an email mail-out, Scott Dinsmore. But I also know my achievement came from that definitive decision to ignore my fears saying “stop”, and instead, to start.
I’m excited to see what other achievements the universe has in store.