The Quest for Identity
September 8, 2012
Who Am I? Who do I want to be? What do I want to be “when I grow up”?
Do I have to know?
It’s a tough thought and one I thought I had figured out. Well, “pride comes before a fall” so says the Good Book, and while I wouldn’t say I’ve fallen, I could definitely say identity is something I”ve been struggling with as of late and could be in the considerable throes of “who am I” syndrome currently.
I don’t mean “who am I” in the hippie, new-agey, be-one-with-the-universe type way (though if you are, by all means, rock the identity quest!), but more in the sense of defining my career, my life, giving myself a solid path, instead of feeling like I’m sliding on marbles going in a thousand directions.
This last year has been a year of upheaval, in a good way. About February, we made the decision for me to move from Panama City, FL to Nashville, TN. I have wanted to do this for so long and to keep from going into messy details, I’m thrilled it happened. I have spent the past five years in PC with my hubby, trying to forge a music career and then a fitness career in a tourist city.
Or did it?
Honestly, that’s a bit harsh, I DIDN’T fail. In fact, I succeeded in the sense that I found out that even in areas where there isn’t a lot of culture, education or desire for healthy living, that I can succeed. I succeeded in that I really learned the meaning of hard work, of entrepreneurship and in the struggles of trying to make ends meet, in a new city, with a new husband, with no family or friends nearby, in a tourist city where the most popular careers are bartender, restaurant owner, charterboat captain or selling beach umbrellas to half-naked, completely drunk Spring Breakers, that I did what I could and I find an identity for myself. Living there forced me to figure out what I wanted to do because performing in an area like that was not a viable option, the demand wasn’t there. I succeeded by finding a way to merge a second passion into my first passion and create a career.
When I graduated from grad school with my second degree in flute performance I really had no idea what I was going to do. In fact, I didn’t care. I got married 6 days after graduation and I said “I’m going to take a break. I’m going to rest and be a housewife for awhile”. I did. I was also bored to death within 6 weeks. Living in a tiny city with nothing to do and no friends, I had nothing to do and you can only clean an apartment so many times. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED being married and being domestic, but this girl was born to move, to work, to keep busy and I HAD to find some work.
Hubby was cool with it, but I guess he didn’t realize HOW bored I was, because within 6 months I was working two retail jobs. The extra money allowed us to go on an anniversary cruise with my parents (1-year for us, 25 years or so for them) which was great, but it also meant I wasn’t getting enough sleep, the hubs and I barely saw each other and practicing? Why? Forget it, no time, and honestly, no reason. I had joined the local community orchestra which, to give credit, is better than a normal community orchestra, but coming from one of the top 5 public music schools in the nation, it wouldn’t have mattered what I had done, I would have been bored, everything was too easy. I was able to get a job teaching adjunct at the local college, and I thought “great, I can give a recital!” which I did, and it was nice to have a goal again. However, when I went back to the dean to talk about doing another recital she told me “I don’t think you realize the level of work that’s involved. Recitals have to be staffed.” I’m sorry, isn’t that your JOB? Needless to say, another recital didn’t happen.
During all of this, I let my passion for fitness take over. I started training much more frequently and doing a lot of research. I decided to get my first personal training certification. Things really came together at the Florida Flute Association convention. I gave my first presentation titled: “From the practice room to the weight room: weightlifting for flutists”. I found that quite a few people were interested in what I had to say and one woman asked me “do you travel to teach your workshops?” She was the one who inspired me to create a brochure, design more workshops and really get the ball rolling on fusing my loves of fitness and music together.
Music Strong was born.
Long story short, I’ve presented several more times at both the FFA conventions and at the National Flute Association Convention, each time people coming up to me amazed at what I’m doing, with questions, concerns and wanting information. I decided this WAS something I wanted to do and put more into so I got a better certification, this time through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. At the same time, I just couldn’t get clients or students in Panama City. I told the hubby enough was enough, we had to go where the money is, and where I had connections already, so we agreed that I would come up to Nashville after the NFA convention in Las Vegas.
I did, and now I am here, LOVING every minute of it, swathed in myriads of opportunities, and I find that I’m back in the same boat of identity confusion: what do I want to do? What direction to I want to go? What’s my ultimate goal? Only now it’s different, because I’m attacking the subject of identity from a place of too many opportunities than of too few.
I’m so blessed now to have a growing flute studio, I’ve been asked to give my workshops at some universities across the state and in addition to that, I’ve been asked to be a part of a company called the “University of Change” – a program seeking to reach out to Nashville (and eventually nation-wide) office workers and the obese. Those with poor posture, with weight problems, people who for one reason or another have not been able to change though they desperately want to, and Music Strong has been asked to be a part of this: speaking at seminars, training clients, leading foam rolling and beginner boot camps. It’s wonderful, it really is!
Now, I’ve been here a grand total of three weeks and I’m covered in opportunities – here the chance to play a well-attended recital is numerous, I can record that piccolo CD I’ve always wanted to do! I could this, that, over there, that too….
So the question for me comes up: what do I want to do? What’s my ultimate goal?
I started life as a musician knowing I had to play in order to be happy, and that’s still true. But the time it takes to be incredibly good is so encompassing, so time consuming, to be on the level to be able to take auditions with confidence that I could get the job, while not out of reach, recent auditions have re-shown me just how much dedication to the music it takes to get to that level. It’s a level that is good to maintain, great to be at and easy to let slide if you don’t have a superior outlet for which to continue honing it.
Am I ok with not playing at that level? Am I ok with not being in an orchestra?
What about teaching, do I want to teach forever?
And what about my beloved company Music Strong? Now that I have all these students it would be so easy to stop investing time in it, but I find myself lighting up anytime a musician (or anyone for that matter) asks me a fitness related question. No, I want it to grow, it’s too important, I can’t let it die.
So the question remains: what is my ultimate goal? I think when I figure this out, I will have my mission statement.
Yes, I want to perform, I want to teach and I want to train. Can I do it all, I think I can. Can I do it at a very high level? Yes, I can. Am I willing to pay the price it takes to get there? The person in me who strives for excellence says “YES!” but thinking about it, how much time would I have to sacrifice away from my husband, my marriage, my friends and family because I have to practice, study, research, blog, train, etc. etc. etc?
The good news is there is no absolute right or wrong answer to this and each journey is unique. What is the right decision today might not be the right decision at a point in time later down the road. You can change, your goals can change, and that’s ok.
I think for now I’m content to say this: I am a musician, a flutist, a teacher, an encourager, a motivator, a trainer, a person of high integrity and moral values and a passionate person. Job wise: I’m a musician, a trainer and a soldier.
That’s just fine for now.
The question comes to you: who are you? What do you want to be when you grow up? What is your ultimate goal? It’s ok to change it, but I can tell you this, when you have an ultimate goal and you can make your path clear, taking away distractions is that much easier. Knowing how to answer challenges in life is that much easier Take some time to think about it. Who are you now? Who will you always be?