The Pursuit of Happiness

I haven't been blogging this week because my brain has been so full of italian recitative, I haven't had the space to create even a single coherent sentence. However, we had a run through of the opera yesterday, and I actually remembered everything, so I feel confident in allowing a few sentences to seep out of my brain this evening.

I had an interesting epiphany in the last couple of weeks that I have been wanting to share with all of you. It's not exactly earth-shattering - it's certainly been written about by many before me. However when something comes to you out of personal experience, it can be far more profound than reading about it in a book, or being told about it by someone else.

I try to keep my blog relatively positive and upbeat, because I try to keep my life in a "glass half full" kind of position. But a couple of years ago I was suffering from a little depression. First of all, I had no singing jobs lined up, and was worried that I would have to change careers not by choice but because of financial necessity. I felt like every performance I did had to knock it out of the park because I needed everyone to love me and hire me back, and this caused me a certain amount of anxiety about performing. Plus I was overly focused on my career and wasn't spending any time on my romantic life, which left me kind of lonely. I really thought that if I could just get a bunch of good jobs and find a boyfriend I would be happy all the time and all my life's problems would be solved.

Well, it's two years later, I have a lot of great jobs, I'm really busy with work, and I have a fantastic boyfriend. And I'm definitely in a happier place than I was at that point two years ago. BUT. I still have terrible days where I get really depressed. I still have anxiety about a lot of stuff - now instead of the things I was anxious about two years ago, I've found other things to be anxious about. I have days where I want to quit the business not out of necessity but because it makes me crazy. I have a great boyfriend but I have to be away from him a lot because I have all this work. And sometimes I miss him so much it physically hurts.

What I've realized from all this is that circumstances alone aren't what create a person's happiness. It's so easy for people - especially creative people with a passion for making their art - to feel that if they could just find success (whether that means steady income, regular jobs, fame, acknowledgement) in their field, they would be happy. But we also know that there are hugely successful people who commit suicide, and people living in poverty or desolation who manage to find their own bliss.

I think happiness is not created by circumstance, but it's something you choose to create within yourself, and which allows you to enjoy your circumstances, whatever they may be. This is an especially important lesson for artists to learn, because often what is defined as success can be rather elusive. You may not be getting paid to sing, or paint, or dance, or act. But that doesn't mean you can't be happy that you have that passion inside of you and the drive to continue growing as an artist. I still think that one of the most fulfilling artistic experiences I've had was singing in my high school choir. Nobody from the Berlin Staatsoper cares that I sang soprano II and wore a burgundy and black dress, and blended with other teenagers, but I still remember how much I enjoyed it, and what a profound impact it had on me as a person and as an artist.

I'm very grateful for the circumstances that have become my current reality. But I'm even more grateful for the realization that even if they should change, I can still enjoy the ride.