As I was coming out of my most recent trough of depression, a strange thing happened. My mood was better, sort of. Even on my best day I couldn’t shake a deep feeling of discontent, except now I was really motivated (you’ll see why this is problem in a minute…).
Motivated and Discontent
One morning I awoke with a fully formed idea in my head. My husband should TOTALLY ask for a transfer to his company’s location in Europe, and we could all learn German, and I could try to make a singing career in Europe! Heck, I could even go to graduate school over there as an interim step to learn the language and make connections! And I could teach Simply Music piano in Europe because all the materials are digital now!
It was going to be awesome. I was going to live in a country with universal health care and half-day elementary school. I swear, it seemed like a really great idea in my head. And, my voice teacher and my singer colleagues all thought it was a reasonable idea.
Imagine my surprise when my husband and my mother were rather shocked and dismayed at my grand idea.
After a couple days of my pestering, my husband wisely encouraged me to VISIT Europe for as long as I wanted, and to learn German, and that he would even come for a visit too. My whole family started German lessons this weekend. I’m going to take a sabbatical this spring and go to Europe for a month.
In an attempt to distract me from Europe, My mother gave me some information about a music graduate school in Canada, whose tuition is comparable to schools in Europe. Well, it’s not the old country, but I emailed the grad school admissions office. Holy crap. Was I really thinking seriously about going to grad school in Canada? It would mean separating my family for 2 years, except for vacations. And I was very seriously considering it. What the hell is wrong with me?
Then another day, I happened to see an ad for a concerto competition for “amateurs and emerging professionals over age 25”. I have signed up, booked an accompanist/coach, and I’m working on Mozart’s Exultate Jubilate. Yikes. I have never had the confidence do anything this big before.
Time to calm down.
My wise father gave me some great advice – he said, “Shanta, you can’t deny this drive within you. But ask yourself what this drive really WANTS, at the deepest level. Then you’ll be able to figure out the right path.”
This deep and intense drive that I have to do something HUGE can’t be denied. And I’m realizing that building my piano studio doesn’t feel huge any more. It’s stable, successful, and (dare I say?) easy. So I’m done pretending that this routine, well-ordered life is enough to keep me fulfilled for the rest of my life. I’m done pretending not to be me. I am going on a big adventure and anyone else can choose whether they want to come along. Is it just me, or am I sounding downright dangerous?
But, since I love my husband and daughter and parents and in-laws, I started exploring things I could do that wouldn’t require moving in the short term. So I started looking at the University of Minnesota’s graduate programs. After several conversations, with the oddest feeling of coming home in a new place, I spoke with one of the Ph.D. programs in the sciences (I have a B.A. in Biology, by the way). I was so excited when I got off the phone, I was ready to start my application the same day. I am going to apply to a Ph.D. program. Oh boy, now I have to retake the GRE and contact my old professors and enroll in a calculus class and…
And here’s the thing.
Since I have a big project (projects?) in the works, my mood has lifted even more. The fatigue, sadness, listlessness, and dullness that have been weighing me down have scattered like roaches when you turn on the light. I may have found my metaphorical exterminator.
I am habitually waking up cheerful for the first time in years.
I have the mental focus to plan all my lessons in 30 minutes without getting distracted.
Today, I got my kid to school, took a walk, practiced, planned my lessons for the week, rewrote my personal statements for the grad school app, and finished this blog post. And I don’t start teaching for another hour!
Get ready, world, here I come!