What I could have been
Whilst talking to Lilian yesterday about my latest favourite bands, she said that it seemed like these guys were all doing what they wanted, at our age or at least a few years older, while we sit here with our heads down, studying law. Well, she’s studying law, I’m studying interactive multimedia. Not that it makes a difference at this stage, because no matter what, day in, day out, we’ve got our heads down for at least the time it takes to drink two coffees. Sure, we’re happy girls, and we’ll come out at the end of it, with our square hats, and be pretty damn proud of ourselves.
Of course, I told her that we are doing what we want to do. Sure, it’s fun to be in a band, and write music, and she and I were both in one at some point. But we moved on, focused on the rudimentary foundations of tertiary study, and left those things for our other selves in parallel universes.
Bringing this topic up with James, I said to him that despite all I could have been, I chose this path. And I must have chosen it for a reason. Yet I ponder the real reason why, and he told me bluntly, that we choose mundane jobs over what we want to do because there is safety and stability in the mundane.
But I love my job.
But at the same time, being inspired by all these musicians who I’ve had the chance to admire from a distance, photograph a little more intimately, and sometimes even meet, talk to, and be friends with — brings me to a low when I think over it too much. When I was younger, I had dreams of being a musician. As a pianist, I dreamed that I’d write my own music, sing and play. As I taught myself guitar, I told myself I’d start out busking and then I’d be in a band. Or I’d be in a band, period. High school was that terrific, albeit morbid time, during which we all had what we now see as ridiculous aspirations.
But despite how right James is, I refuse to believe that I chose the mundane. If I chose the mundane, I would have listened to my parents. I would have done accounting and crunched numbers. I would have worked in McDonald’s from the age of fourteen. I would have played piano right until grade eight, and I would have played the piano and nothing but the piano.
What makes me more upset is the fact that I, as a self-confessed jill of all trades, realise that I was torn between what I wanted to do. And it wasn’t just being able to write, able to play the piano and guitar and write music, having a fascination with rocks, a fascination with teeth, being able to dance jazz, tap, and my favourite of all – classical ballet. It was that I could never make up my mind. I’ve always been indecisive. So when (and I don’t remember when) I made the decision to put down so much of what I could do, and decided that I wanted to have a day job designing creatively, digitally, and using my brain to perfect semantic code, I felt like a total jerk.
A jerk for wanting to focus on that one dumb piece of shit. Who am I kidding? Who am I kidding? I love everything I have ever learned to do in my life, and no matter what, I cherish it. And that’s why, over the years, I didn’t stop. I really, truly didn’t. Maybe I’m not a musician. Maybe I’m not on stages, inspiring people how I wanted. Maybe I’m not helping fix people’s teeth the way I imagined. Maybe I’m not JK Rowling. Maybe I’m not dancing on stages worldwide. But you know what? I wrote a bunch of songs, released an EP. I am writing a novel. I still write poems, day after day. I went back to ballet, a whole year after stopping, and I got my teacher’s certificate. I love my teeth as much as any dentist would. I am still intrigued by rocks. I still dance. I still sing. I still do everything I loved.
Nobody said I had to do any of these for the rest of my life. Nobody said I had to choose one. Nobody said that what I’m doing now is set in stone. In a parallel universe, I’d be a ballet dancer. I’d be a guitarist in a band, and we would write the greatest music that people would dance to, sing to, scream to. In a parallel universe, I would be a best-selling author.
But you know what? In a parallel universe, I wouldn’t have been a web designer by day and a gig photographer by night. I wouldn’t have graduated last year and be graduating in another year. I wouldn’t have found out how much I love to run, and I wouldn’t be writing as passionately on a blog that I designed and coded from scratch. I wouldn’t know half the people I know today, I wouldn’t have met half the musicians who have inspired me regardless of what I do. Nobody said I had to do everything I wanted to at once.
But nobody said I couldn’t.