Everyone’s heard of a Bucket List. Before I started this blog, I wrote a Kicked the Bucket List – a string of things in my life that died off. More accurately, a list of things I pursued and quit.
It sounds like a cute little project – fun, even. But swimming and tumbling inside me like E. coli were these feelings of failure and incompletion. Until I really examined them, I wasn’t about to begin something new.
In college, performance majors were required to prepare a song for Performance Lab once a semester. My senior year, as I sang I don’t know what; one of my professors and a guest speaker for the upcoming Master Class listened in the hallway.
“Will she be singing in today’s Master Class?” He asked.
“No. She’ll be attending, but she’s not pursuing opera. She’s a music theatre major.” Professor Betty Utter explained.
“With that voice!?! What a shame” he said.
When my professor told me about this conversation, I thought of it as a backhanded compliment. Translation: Beautiful voice. But Music Theatre? How droll.
I began studying “legit” music in middle school. I’ve been trained to sing in five different languages. (I also have “like nunchuck skills . . . bowhunting skills . . . computer hacking skills.”) But I didn’t think opera was a good fit for me. So, I quit.
I’ve often wondered if Mr. Master Class was right. Would I have been more successful in that field?
When I graduated college, I took a job as a substitute teacher. Right away, I was needed at an elementary school on a long-term assignment. I was given my own classroom in music for one semester. I was expected to come up with my own lesson plans, decorate my room, co-direct a recital, attend faculty meetings, and, you know, act like I knew what I was doing.
At the end of the year, the principal asked me to stay and get my alternative certification. I was flattered. But I didn’t think it was a good fit for me. So I quit.
My mom always wanted me to be a teacher. I’ve often wondered if she was right.
When I studied music theatre in college, a peer once told me, “You know that the acting is more important than the singing, right?”
I panicked. After my semester-long stint with teaching (I was still subbing here and there), I doubled up on acting lessons, got an agent, and forgot about singing for a while.
In my mid-or-so-twenties, my agent sent me to an audition which required both – singing and acting. It was for the upcoming movie, Coyote Ugly. They liked my voice. They liked my reading. But they said I was too old for the role. (My pigtails didn’t fool them for one minute.)
The local news was there and the casting director for the movie suggested I perform my song for their camera crew. It was not as good as a call-back, but still an honor.
I really enjoyed acting. But, in the end, I didn’t think the lifestyle was a good fit for me. So I quit.
I’ve often wondered if Piper Perabo is enjoying her career.
When I was in high school, I was cast as Guinevere in Camelot. I loved every minute of it, and I was certain that music theatre was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
After pursuing it for a while, I simply changed my mind. I didn’t think it would be a good fit for having the family I wanted (and still don’t have, by the way). So I quit.
I only miss it during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I’ve often wondered why.
In my late twenties I decided to go back to school for Vocal Pedagogy . . . or maybe conducting . . . or performance. I took a few classes and thought, “Why am I doing this? I don’t wanna write a dissertation. I don’t wanna take my comps.”
I didn’t think the career I’d have at the end of the two or so years would be a good fit. So I quit.
I’ve often wondered if I should have finished. I sure would have had more career options.
I have boxes and boxes of cake decorating tools. The first cake I made was for my brother’s birthday. At one point I thought about working in a bakery. (They always make it look so satisfying in the movies.) But the jobs I looked into required early morning hours; which did not interest me. (I was also too vain to wear a hair net. Which, they never do in the movies!)
I realized that what I really wanted was to make cakes for my kids’ (who, as I mentioned earlier, I still don’t have) birthday parties. I didn’t think making cakes for other people’s kids was a good fit. So I quit.
I often wonder when I’ll get to unpack those boxes.
Nicky & Alex:
When I divorced, I moved into a small apartment. Nicky and Alex wouldn’t fit (the apartment, not my life), so my ex took them. Since my ex and I don’t talk, I’ve never known how they’ve been. Are they happy? Are they healthy?
I regret quitting them most of all.
Many other things could be squeezed into and added to this list: Data Entry, Admin. Work, Voice-over Work, Writing Jingles, Waitressing, Singing in Bands, Praise Team, Singing in Choirs, Arranging Quartet Music, Many Abandoned Ideas. . . .
I’ve heard it said that it’s just as important in life to know what you don’t want as it is to know what you do want. I’ve also heard it said that part of life is mourning – the things you thought would be, but weren’t, aren’t, and never will be.
I keep this list handy. I think of things to add all the time. Somehow, writing them down makes me feel better.
I have two more lists I intend to write – a list of things I haven’t quit, and a list of things I look forward to quitting.
– Anita, Noted in Nashville