In college, I took four semesters of voice lessons, but if you listened to me now, you might not believe it.
I’ve always loved to sing. When I was young, I would sit in the back of the car and sing all kinds of songs to myself, some real, some made up. My favorite when I was about 4 years old, was the theme song from “An American Tale.” I would sing it quietly, thinking no one could hear me, but they always could of course, and to this day, that’s how my mom’s best friend pictures me … the little girl who used to sing in the backseat of the car.
I don’t know why I never learned how to sing well since I loved it so much. I did try a few times to take lessons. In second grade, I was in a singing group called Choral Collection, and while I think I liked it a lot, there must have been some reason I stopped. Then, in third or fourth grade, my mom gave in and let me take private lessons, but that only lasted a month. I was young and all the techniques I was supposed to practice – like scales, buzzing my lips and making strange sounds with my mouth – were uncomfortable for me. I was too embarrassed to practice. I really would have been better off joining a choir or something more appropriate for my age. The woman I took lessons from was so good, but I didn’t understand what it took for me to be good. So, I quit.
Then, years went by and when I was about 21 or 22, I started taking lessons in college for elective credits. I did practice (although I was still embarrassed and often did the exercises and sang in the car on long drives), I did get better, and I did have fun. But while I think I can generally match a tune, I’m still not a great singer.
I remember going to one of my lessons and explaining to the teacher why I hadn’t practiced as much that week. There were a million reasons, one of them being a marathon I ran. I don’t remember the others things that got in the way, but I do remember my teacher saying, “I think you’re one of those people who does everything.”
That’s stuck with me. Because yes, I do like to try a lot of things. But I always have to wonder, is that for the best if I never get really good at any of them?
Take running for example. I’ve completed five half marathons and two full marathons, but I’m not fast. In fact, my speed has pretty much stayed the same for the last eight years or so I’ve been running.
And for the last six years I’ve been interested in graphic design, and while I can do some things well, I often think I should be better at it by now.
I have so many interests and I’m always trying to incorporate them in my life. One year, I wrote five songs – lyrics, music, everything – and recorded them with my brother. For a while, I was going to yoga once a week. And there was the year I picked up sewing, making 10 blankets and a few purses in a year. One summer, I tried to attend as many plays as possible. And the last couple years, I’ve gotten into hiking. There were also the few months when I tried to take a picture every day. One summer month the year after I finished college, I made the goal to swim every day.
I wasn’t necessarily trying to get good at all of these things. A lot of the time, I just wanted to have fun. But sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be really good at some of these things – music, art, exercise.
You know what I’d really like to be good at now? You know what I’d really like to accomplish?
- Writing. I want this always to be a part of me. I want to communicate ideas that matter and express creativity. I really want to write and publish a book someday.
- Running. For some of you exercise zealots, this will sound like nothing, but I really want to finish a half marathon in less than two hours.
- Graphic Design. I want to have my own place on the Internet where I sell quality design work.
I also want to do a bunch of other things, but maybe if I choose three main things to work on, I’ll be able to do it. Or is three too many? What do you think?
Right now, I have a note on my desk that says, “How much do you want the things you want?!” I wrote to remind myself that the things I want the most will take a lot of work. If I want to get good a graphic design, I have to put in the time. Same with running, writing and even being a good person. Sure, everything takes passion, desire and drive, but that’s just the beginning. Putting in the time is probably the most important aspect of becoming talented at something.
How much do you want the things you want?!
This is my newest mantra. And I know that if I really want to improve things, I have to get past the fear, the insecurities and the laziness that so often creeps in. I have to forget about failing.
And it’s not like I can’t stick to things. I took piano and clarinet lessons for six years each. And whenever I’ve wanted to travel, I’ve made that happen by being dedicated to saving money. I finished college in eight semesters. There are also a lot of other short-term goals I’ve accomplished.
I’m happy to have tried so many things, and I don’t that part of my personality is going to change any time soon. Bring on the adventures! But for now on, I hope to also bring on the effort for the things I want most. I want to dream big and really make those dreams come true.
If any of you have suggestions on how you reach you’re dreams, let me know. I’m always open to inspiration.