Changing Career Part 4 - The myth of the "real job"
March 1, 2017
"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.