Changing Career Part 4 - The myth of the "real job"
"I'm telling you Adam, if you give up drumming, that is your life over."
This was the advice given to me by a pro drummer when I was considering a career change a few years ago. Whilst his intentions were well-meaning, his words betrayed a pretty non-sensical belief that I have come across many times; that the world is divided into 2 sorts of people:
1. Musicians (or anyone else who does their art as their job).
2. People who hate their jobs.
I have probably held that belief myself at times.
And whilst I think it's true that finding an enjoyable and fulfilling career is difficult, I have met enough people who love their jobs - people in so-called 'real jobs' - to know that it is a very achievable goal.
I think sometimes it is worth noting what causes you envy - it helps you figure out what it is you want. And more and more last year I found myself getting jealous of people working 9-5's on something they believed in, going in to work with a sense of purpose and drive, and then having their weekends and evenings free to enjoy their hobbies, and to spend time with friends and family.
I must admit that I am still having the occasional wobble as I make this change. My life is, it must be said, already pretty cushty.
Though lonely, teaching can have some wonderfully rewarding moments, and I do get the feeling the lessons are a positive thing in my pupils' lives. Though functions can be musically uninspiring, I get paid a good wage to get up on stage and have fun with 3 great friends, and to make the last few hours of someone's wedding special and memorable. Though I am far from family around Christmas, and the job can get repetitive, I think I spend more time laughing during my panto gig than at any other time of year. And with all this, I don't feel over-worked, and I still have a lot of time for a healthy lifestyle and for creative projects.
I'd gladly keep this career over one where I perhaps have a bit more routine, more social interaction, and more sociable working hours, but feel suffocated and uninspired by the work I am doing. And for that reason, I do sometimes wonder if I should just be grateful for what I already have; if it is just a case of the grass being greener on the other side, and perhaps I just need to be more appreciative rather than to make this drastic change.
But I think I must be bold. If I feel there is a career out there that would be a better fit for me, then I ought to go for it. What's more I ought to go for it now whilst my responsibilities are few. I would only regret it if I didn't. And as many people have helpfully pointed out to me, I will always have the music to fall back on. I have shown that I can make a living from it. If it all goes tits-up, I have a safety net.
And thinking about it like that helps me to take this whole process much more lightly, and realise it's not actually that big a deal.