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F*ck it, do what you love
When I was 6 years old, we inherited my great-grandmother’s piano. I immediately took to it, and begged for lessons. For the next 10 years, music would be a constant part of my life. Whether it was piano, ukulele, violin, musical theatre, or choir - I couldn’t get enough. I used songwriting and singing to meet people, express myself, and get through tough times. It wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that there were times that my keyboard was my lifeline. I was a shy kid, but almost all of my friends were people I met through choir and theatre. Something about music opened me up, made me feel comfortable in a way that just didn’t happen with anything else.
I never considered myself a very talented performer. I have horrible stage fright, and I never quite got the handle of proper singing technique, hard as I tried. From grade 5-12, I was in a school music program, and there were many, many other students with much more talent than me. I wasn’t bad, but I clearly wasn’t a prodigy. My voice was pretty but unusual, not fit for choral singing. My conductor never showed the same interest in me that he did other people. My piano teacher wasn’t particularly ecstatic about my progress. In grade 12, I auditioned for a choir, and all my friends got in except for me. It was a passion and a hobby, but it was clear that I didn’t have what it took to carry it on as a career.
When I graduated, I decided it was time to move on. It was time to focus on things I was good at, or things that would help push me to my career. Music was fun, I reasoned, but it wasn’t going to help me get ahead in life, so it wasn’t something to be focused on. Music careers are underpaid, and I didn’t really have the skill to get to that point anyway. It was time to focus on what mattered. I joined a litany of fundraising events, volunteer clubs, and networking groups. I still had my keyboard, but it went untouched.
Fast forward a few months: I was making some great connections, meeting a ton of new people, and getting a lot done. Everything I did I did well, and it was productive. But here’s the thing: I just wasn’t happy. It wasn’t like I wasn’t having fun- I went out with friends often. But there was something missing from my life. It took me a while to figure out that what was missing- music.
And I realized that it didn’t matter if I was good at it. It didn’t matter if it took up too much of my time, or whether it furthered my career or not. I loved it, and it made my life better, and that was what mattered.
I ended up joining my school’s a cappella choir. It was extremely amateur, took up way too much of my time, and was absolutely ridiculous - and I loved it.
So here’s my advice, based off this experience: Never give up your passion. Whether it’s music, gaming, gardening, or anything else - if you love it, if it makes you happy, it’s worth every bit of it. Never let it go.
Rachel began her mindyourmind placement as Marketing and Innovation Assistant this September, and could not be more excited! As a Psychology and Business student at the University of Waterloo, she is a proud mental health advocate, and passionate about helping connect mental health resources with those who need them. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, baking and going outdoors.
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