I’ve discovered recently that there’s a very fine line between having absolutely nothing to do and feeling like a little bit nuts with all the things you have to do.
The last two weeks have been an absolute whirlwind of rehearsals, performances, travel, competitions, not quite enough sleep, work, auditions, and in between all of that, trying to stay focused on learning all of the music I’m working on right now.
Basically, I’m swamped.
And you know what? I might complain about running around like a maniac, but I love it. I really, truly do. I have more energy when I have less downtime, and I’m more productive when I don’t have quite enough time to get stuff done because of places I actually have to be.
But with all of this energy and excitement also comes the feeling that I should be doing something productive EVERY SECOND of EVERY DAY, and if I’m not thinking about music or singing or working on music EVERY SECOND of EVERY DAY, then there must be something wrong with me, I must not be committed enough or passionate enough. Which is more stressful than all of the singing and traveling and working and learning put together.
So I’m trying to teach myself to rest. Not an easy task, let me tell you, when you’re “too type-A to just relaaaaaaax!”
Part of what makes this hard for me, I think, is that singing still doesn’t feel like “work.” I still refer to sitting behind a desk as “actual work” or “real work,” when singing actually takes more energy and focus. Not to mention that I’m being PAID to sing pretty consistently right now, so by definition it’s my job. And yet on Wednesday, when I had a two-and-a-half hour orchestra rehearsal followed by dress rehearsal for the Verdi Requiem at the Chicago Symphony (available to watch here, by the way!), I had a tough time letting myself take the morning off.
And what’s really tricky is that singing USED to be the thing I did to let off steam. So how do you deal with the moment when your favorite leisure activity becomes your livelihood? I think the answer to that is rest, and recreation.
For me it’s important to make a contrast between working and not working. If I’ve practiced efficiently and well for an hour, I have to say to myself, “Self, now go outside, enjoy this warmer-than-usual October weather and read a good book.” Yesterday I warmed up, had an audition at 11, had lunch, read through the Act I Finale of Cosi fan tutte twice, and then said, “I’m working tonight, so I’m going to watch some pointless TV and look at clothes on the internet.”
But I’m not complaining. Some women enjoy complaining, not Yente. Not every woman in the world can be a Yente.
Singing is still amazing, and I’m lucky enough to get to do it for a not-insignificant chunk of my living. I just need to adjust my thinking, that’s all. Because it’s my job.