• Jenny McKay

Why I Left a Creative Career to Lead a Creative Life

I had made it. I was in my final year of my Masters Degree at a prestigious university in an extraordinary music department. I was awarded more auditions than I could manage (and afford, quite frankly) and singing better than ever before.

A few days before my biggest audition trip to New York yet, I was finishing out some auditions in Houston. While waiting for my turn, I was chatting with my friend Nadia about her future plans and I was impressed with her fresh perspective on the performing life. Mid-conversation, the world around me seemed to go mute, and I heard a voice say, "You don't have to do this if you don't want to." Excuse me, what? "You don't have to do this if you don't want to." And then, my name was called to enter the audition room. Extremely distracted, I sang the worst rendition of Jewel Song I've ever sung, and left the room. They obviously didn't ask for a second piece.

As I exited the room, I thought about the words I had heard, and began to panic a bit. Not for the reasons you would think. I began to panic because I realized my first response (after being completed weirded out) to "You don't have to do this if you don't want to" was "Where is the nearest door. Get me out of here."

My direct and sure response to the voice kind of shocked me. More than anything, it relieved me. This distinct and clear revelation changed the course of my life that year. I was ready to follow the herd, continue exerting myself in the pattern my peers and mentors had set before me. But that permission slip allowed me to explore options like I never had before and take risks that have filled my life in ways I didn't expect.

After that experience, I still went on my audition trip and sang better at those auditions than any others because it turns out when you don't care about the auditions, you sing REAL good. I even got into my first paid Young Artist Program. I thought it was pretty ironic that once I had determined to vary from the path, I was welcomed onto it. I explored my options - auditioned for artist diplomas, last minute auditioned for a Doctoral Program (that was a freaking whirlwind), got in most places, received unbelievable offers to continue my studies, and decided to turn them all down and go home.

I was ready to discover my own path and stop trying to fit in to what teachers and my career thought I needed to be. Since moving home, I have experimented and explored so much. And I've never felt more liberated or creative in my life. Ideas and desires to create pulse through me. And even more than that, my confidence is at an all time high.

I may return to singing and music full-time, but for now, I am relishing in my creative life. Quitting music full time isn't for everyone, but it certainly has done wonders for me. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened had I given myself permission to "quit" or "leave" earlier. I honestly don't know. I do know that I wouldn't be singing as pretty. And no one would like that. So, with no regrets, I continue to truly create the best life I could imagine.

#selfacceptance #lifestyle

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