If you had asked me 10 years ago where I thought I’d be today, I probably would have predicted that I’d be living in Manhattan while regularly jet setting to glamourous locations performing various opera roles. My dream was to be a performer for as long as I can remember.
My grandmother was an opera singer, and my mom always says that she knew I’d be a singer when I was a baby because I used to hum with the changing pitch of the blender.
I vividly recall the first talent show that I performed in when I was six years old — I sang “A Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid, and I was hooked from the moment I stepped onto the stage. From that point on, whenever someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always responded with “singer.”
I dedicated a lot of time in my youth learning how to make beautiful sounds with my voice. I defined myself and a lot of my self-worth on my singing ability. Applause, compliments, and winning awards were the shiny pennies I added to the bank of my ego.
Ten years later, my life is a far cry from the life I envisioned for myself when I was a little girl. Instead of wearing 18th century costumes, these days I’m much more likely to be found in yoga pants. Instead of bowing to applause several nights a week, I wake up early to go to the office and analyze numbers on spreadsheets. Instead of paying my dues for years as a starving artist, I took the more secure path in Corporate America.
Now, the only person who regularly hears my singing voice is the three year-old who crawls in my lap every night to be rocked before he goes to bed. Our nightly lullaby routine has become a sing-a-long concert where I take requests. I’ve gone from singing Italian arias to Barney songs, but I wouldn’t change a thing. The life I thought I wanted wasn’t meant to be, but the life I’m creating instead is incredible in its own ways.
Sometimes my heart aches for the life that never was — for the risks I didn’t take and the path I didn’t pursue. Sometimes I look at the lives of my friends who are “making it,” and I enviously think that could have been me. But then I remind myself that there are aspects of my own life that are enviable, things that I no doubt wouldn’t be fortunate enough to have had my life gone the way I planned.
I now consider “Opera Singer” to be on the list of things I used to be, but the list of things that I am and things I have accomplished is far surpassing my wildest dreams. Even though the dream I had for myself didn’t materialize, I will still teach my son that he can be anything he wants to be because I believe that’s true. I also believe that you don’t have to pick one thing to be nor does one thing ever truly define you. Life for me has been an unpredictable journey, but the thing that remains constant is my ability to try and trust that everything will work out for the best in the end.
The sharp turns my life has taken gives me hope for the next ten years. What will happen that I never expected? What am I now that I will grow out of? What lessons am I learning today that will shape my tomorrow? I can’t wait to find out.