Staring Into The Abyss…

Posted: January 22, 2013 in About Me, Advice, Career
Tags: , , , , ,

This week I will be reading syllabi and finding my classes for the last time. My final schedule is set and I’m ready to graduate in May. And I couldn’t be more excited. Really.

Although there is this nagging fear

It’s more than just graduating though. I’ve graduated from things before…middle school, high school, like most people. This is the first time that, when I look at the last day of classes, there is an abyss that is called “The Future.” It’s almost like a cliff waiting for me – I’ve lived for as long as I can remember with the same basic schedule of school, break, school, break, etc. with some extra activities thrown in, but that consistency is going right out the window about mid-May.

It’s bizarre thinking about that change, which I’m sure will feel completely normal after less than a year. I can do anything with my time after I graduate (as of now I have no commitments) and yet I can’t. I have to make the decision to do one thing while deciding to not do the numerous other options that are just as viable. So this semester I’m attempting to find a method to cope with that weighty decision. Here are my thoughts:

1. Decide Short Term

Figuring out the present is always a good idea (duh). What many people don’t get is that you have to choose to do something now to get momentum and be inspired by your progress. By making decisions for tomorrow, next week, and a month from now, you’re setting small goals that you can look forward to.

Currently, I’m planning a ski trip for this weekend, focusing on my classes for this week, and hunting for a part-time job. Oh and I plan out and look forward to a delicious dinner every night 😉

I’ve also decided to take my health into my own hands and do an Elimination Diet, which I’ll get into more in another post as it takes some explaining…

2. Think Long Term

Physically taking the leap and doing something is a great way to get started, but there should always be a bigger plan in place if you want to accomplish your goals – whatever they happen to be. Want to work in the music industry? Go get an internship, you crazy sonuva bitch (because really, you have to be crazy to be in this industry…). Want to be in a financially viable band? Start rehearsing and studying how to actually make it profitable.

I have a few goals for myself as of right now. This summer I am going to take a road trip (hence the part-time job), after summer I will find a job working for a venue in New York or Boston, and eventually I will start my own venue, which I’ve already begun planning. I definitely know this is a lofty goal, but I’ve always been taught that you can’t succeed unless you try…so dammit I’m going to try.

3. Don’t Freak Out (Find People To Help)

There’s not much that’s less helpful than being paralyzed by fear, anxiety, or indecision.  Focus on figuring one thing out at a time instead of peering into the vast chasm of empty space that is your future. Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.

Also, find a handful (or more if you’re an extrovert) of people to be there when you need a friend, a few people who know what you’re going through to be mentor figures, and a vast network of people who can potentially give you advice or opportunities. Focus on meeting friends and get a good foundation, then branch out from there.

I’ve never been one to have a huge group of friends. I generally end up with one to three people I regularly hang out with or talk to and a slightly larger group of people (that are probably friends with my close friends), who I hang out with on occasion. I am totally fine with this. Find what makes you feel most comfortable and do that.

4. Make Decisions For You

I’m just guessing here, but I’d say most people think they do this (myself included). I’ve discovered in my time as a music business student that most people are doing a LOT. Organizing concerts, fundraisers, tech startups, etc. It can be intimidating and frustrating, because really, being surrounded by so much success can seem to diminish the successes in your life if you aren’t careful. I find myself wanting to take on more and more projects, even if they are not directly to the benefit of my end goal. Not such logical decision-making…

Solution? Block everyone and everything out for a while (done). Spend some time figuring out what really interests you (done). Consider every opportunity available to you and evaluate how helpful it will be to reaching your goal (in progress…).

Now be happy for all the other successes around you (and that you’re in such a positive atmosphere) and keep on chugging toward your goal, distractions be damned.

5. Know There’s Always Another Option

In my college career, I have at least dabbled in all the different paths in the music industry. From songwriting, to management, to social media marketing, to music journalism – everything except law basically. Each time I take on a new endeavor I find a new love. It’s always refreshing and I feel motivated all over again. Will I have to pick something to stick with for a while after graduation? Yes. But I know that, if worse comes to worst, I’m not being forced to stay in that field. I’m free to seek out other opportunities or create my own and that in itself can be a freeing feeling.

If you do decide your chosen path isn’t turning out as wonderfully as you imagined, make sure to bow out respectfully and with your reputation in tact. There’s no worse a feeling than forcing yourself to carry on without inspiration and failing your employer and co-workers.

As for me, I will likely always be doing a little bit of a lot of things, and that’s perfectly fine in this industry. In fact, nowadays it’s almost required.

It’s difficult to say exactly where I’ll be and what my life will look like by the fall of this year, but hopefully I can look into that chasm and find my way across.

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