Hey, college and high school grads! Your degree (or proposed degree) is important. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise or shame you for not making the “right” choice. It’s not just education that helps us unlock our inner wisdom about where we want to go and what we want to do, it’s life experience.
You don’t necessarily have to make lifelong decisions at the age of 18. I’m 33, have two higher ed degrees, and am only just now figuring out what my true path is. And you know what? That’s ok with me. For years, I shamed myself for “not using my degrees enough” or “making the wrong choices about my life path.” But I’ve finally started to realize how exactly each road I took connects to the next, and my choices are all starting to make sense.
I am an artist, a business woman, and more all rolled into one.
I have two degrees in voice. When I embarked upon my six-year journey as a college student in music, I thought that I was on the path to become a famous opera singer.
Now, nine years after earning my degrees, I’m working in corporate business. It’s not such a shocking departure from what I set out to do. I’ve always worked in business.
Studying and working in the arts is essentially running your life as a business all the time. It’s a reel of questions like those we ask ourselves in the corporate world when evaluating our progress and goals: How am I marketing myself? How does what I am offering stand apart from what others are offering? How am I growing and improving? How can I increase my earnings? The list goes on and on.
I am proud of what I do, and I think of my work at National Life as a career, not just a job. I don’t sing quite as much as I used to, but I now aim to use my voice in different ways, no matter what my role. I use it to empower. I lift my voice for people who want their voices heard but perhaps aren’t yet brave enough to speak their truth. I encourage people to step into their personal power. I share my voice by teaching others (without the vocal warm ups!) and use it to ask questions to deepen my own understanding and continue learning, too.
So, what exactly do two degrees in voice have to do with working in business? And how do those years of experience factor in to my career? Everything. My experience as an artist and a teacher has taught me invaluable lessons that directly apply to both life and work.
Here are some lessons I have learned as both a student of voice, a voice teacher, and a performer:
- There is no reward without the risk. If you want to succeed, you must be open to failure too.
- Not everyone is going to like or appreciate what you have to offer. Keep sharing your voice anyway.
- The show must go on. And you’ve got to keep showing up, even when it’s scary, even when it’s hard, even when you’re tired, and even when you think you’ve forgotten your lines.
- Stay humble. Arrogance will get you nowhere.
- Always have a box of tissues on hand. When getting deep into work, you might cry. And that’s totally ok.
- Lift up those who are succeeding in the same realm of work as you. Don’t cut anyone down. Believe there is space for everyone to succeed, because there is.
- Though it sounds cliche, if at first you don’t succeed, try again.
- Oh, and don’t forget – hydration is key to vocal and overall health!
The great composer George Frideric Handel once said, “I should be sorry if I only entertained them. I wish to make them better.”
To me, this is what this life is all about. All the world’s a stage (and now I guess I’m quoting Shakespeare, too!). We all have our parts to play, but what makes everything worthwhile is truly caring for and bettering not just ourselves, but the people around us. When we empower ourselves and those around us, we all become better, and so does everything we’re involved in creating.