Why I'm Changing Career - Part 2
I think perhaps the first thing worth pointing out is that this decision is coming from a happy, and an ambitious place, not a sad and defeated one.
I am (as I have allowed others to help me start believing) doing rather well.
After an initial struggle on returning to land from work on cruise ships, I have, since July 2015 been making a decent and steady wage through drum related jobs (playing and teaching), which are, overall, fun and enjoyable.
So much so that around November of that same year I had the epiphany that I had "made it." Sure, I wasn't playing on a West End show or touring with Stevie Wonder, but I was making a decent living out of music. And at this point I realised that perhaps this was all I ever wanted.
I started to allow my free time to be down time, which was something I had been craving to do forever. Rather than feel that I had to use it to practise alone in a drum room for hours on end, or hustle for more work, I could read, write and see friends without feeling any guilt.
I quit lessons with my teacher. I stopped searching for West End and session work. And I made the decision to move to Yorkshire, where I already had friends through my annual panto gig. If functions, teaching and the odd bit of theatre work was all I ever needed, then why stay in London - one of the most expensive places to live in the world.
The lure of incomparably cheaper rent prices up North was difficult to resist. If I were to pay just a little more than I had been to rent a tiny room in a 3-bed flat-share in London, up there I could afford my own 2 storey house in the beautiful village of Saltaire. So, I did it.
I had the romantic idea that I would become a philosopher supporting myself through music. Teaching and functions paid well by the hour, and my needs and interests were modest, so I didn't need to work all that much.
I would spend my days on this earth doing exactly what I was already doing for work, going on long country walks, thinking deep thoughts, perhaps grow a long silvery beard, and write my philosophical masterpiece, and that would be all I needed.
Little was I to know that this epiphany that I had "made it" and the offspring of this new plan was to lead to almost certainly the most difficult year of my life. A year in which I spent a great deal of time in a self-obsessive soul-searching state, and in which I made acquaintance with depression.
I have now made it through to the other side of this phase and feel happy, energised, confident, at peace, and importantly, I feel ambitious again.
Perhaps it is difficult to be sure at this stage, but I think in hindsight I can now make sense of what was going on in my head.
There was an element of truth in my epiphany. Getting to a point of making a steady income through music, and discovering that I got a lot of enjoyment from teaching, had made me realise that I really didn't care if I never played on a West End show or toured the world as a session drummer. I also realised that my long-standing suspicions that I wasn't as passionate or obsessed about the instrument as some of my peers was perhaps true. It became clear to me that a lot of the motivation for my numerous hours of practice was to get to a stage where I could work, and not from a sincere and pure drive to develop my craft.
It made me realise that I valued being able to enjoy my free time to do other things, that I didn't want to spend it locked away in a room practising, or going out to jam nights to network, or sitting-in on West End pits. And teaching made me realise how enjoyable directly helping other people can be.
The problem was that as I much as I wanted to fool myself into feeling otherwise, I did still want something other/more/else than what I already had. For reasons that I will go into in the next part, I began to realise that I was wrong; a life of teaching, functions and solitary philosophy was not for me.
So, it seemed that either I had to carry on and continue the strenuous rat-race of chasing more interesting and exciting drum work, in an incredibly competitive industry, or accept things as they were. And I didn't much fancy either of those two options.
I realised that I didn't want what I thought I had wanted for so long, without knowing what I did want. My goal posts had been uprooted but not yet re-located, and I was in a disorientated and crippling state of limbo.
My goal posts aren't quite firmly re-rooted yet, but I have made my peace with the fact that they have left their previous location, and I am moving closer to finding a place to re-plant them. And crucially, I have found my ambition and drive again.
Thanks for reading. In the next part (out next Saturday) I will go into more detail as to why exactly I became disillusioned with my previous goals, and why I was unable to accept my life as it currently is.