Hey there! Happy new year!
Sorry I’ve been backlogged on the Ask Sari A’s to your Q’s! Here is the latest instalment.
This question comes from Huma who like many of us faces a tough decision about whether to leave school to be in a band that’s growing or to try and juggle everything. This one comes up a lot so I’m so glad she sent it in! Feel free to chime in with your additional advice in the comment section! And if you have a question of your own, send it on over to AskSari@WeAreAB.co!
So here’s my story:
I’m 19 years old, working and going to community college and joined as a singer/violinist in a band about 8 months ago. Since then, we’ve been steadily climbing in seemingly every area be it quality of music/performance, pulling more people at each show, and having found a new and seemingly promising promoter. I’ve also learned a LOT, as the guys in the band with me have been doing this for almost 10 years and have taught me a lot.
I love this band. It’s literally a dream come-true for me.
The problem? I want to make it a top priority, which isn’t too hard with my flexible work schedule, but school is daunting. We want to start upping our number of shows per week, and I optimistically think I can handle traveling and class, but I’m not always sure of that.
Everyone tells me school should come first, but if I want us to go somewhere (which I very much do!!) we all need 1000% commitment. Music and performance has been my number one passion ever since I can remember, and I want so bad to give 1000% of myself.
Do you realistically think I could juggle school, work and traveling and making this band a career? If one of these factors were to drop out of my life, which would you suggest it be?
Thank you so much for any answers you might have for me.
Hey Huma! Thank you for reaching out!
Firstly – Congrats! This is what I like to call a good problem. It’s a great situation to be in when you have a band taking off and getting busier, and a successful academic career all at once. I can definitely understand your want to simplify and streamline so that your focus isn’t so divided. But first take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back!
Secondly, I want to be upfront with you. I can’t wave a magic wand and tell you what to do here. This is truly a decision you need to own and make for yourself. Why? Because this is an important turning point for you that you will look back at for years to come. This decision will affect a handful of side factors that I am unaware of so let me just get that out of the way. That being said, I trust you can do this!
What I can do however is help lead you down the right track to arriving on an answer you can stand behind. Sit down and ask yourself, “What makes me happy?” Then think about yourself in 5 years. In your ideal situation, where are you?
Are you standing on stage in a touring band? or are you graduating with honours? Or are you somewhere completely different? If your answer was on stage – then ask yourself how badly you want that? Also in your vision – how many people are in your audience? Hundreds? Thousands?
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. To be a successful artist on a stage that size is going to be incredibly hard. 5 years is likely not enough years to make that kind of magic happen. But now ask yourself, “how badly do I want that? So badly that if I don’’t get it in 5 years I will keep trying everything I can to achieve that? or so badly that if I don’t achieve that in 5 years I will go back to school and hang my head in shame?”
However you answered these questions, I urge you to follow your heart.
If you answered that you would be ok if you didn’t see great success in 5 years, and you are leaning towards diving in to music. – think of yourself on stage in 5 years again. But this time you are playing to a room of 40 friends in a cozy local cafe. How do you feel in this vision? Are you happy that you get to create and perform regardless of the scope? or are you sad and depressed?
If you are feeling like in 5 years you would be sad and depressed to be in that situation I think should stay in school and revisit this all-or-nothing approach later in your life. And there’s nothing wrong if that’s what you decide to do. It takes many years of knowing the industry to understand that even if you work super hard, and the band builds, and you try your damn hardest in every capacity, the industry still may not return the favour of awarding you a career with hundreds and thousands of fans. The trick, and lots of older artists will be able to share this with you too, is to be happy regardless of the recognition and fan base. To be happy creating and performing selflessly. If you can say that is you and you expect nothing in return from the industry, but that you will try your hardest to get to the top regardless, then by all means – it could very well be your time to hustle. The sooner you get out on the road the sooner you will be making new relationships and building you career, and thus increasing your chances of success.
Now I urge you when you’re thinking about these questions above to be incredibly honest with yourself. No one is listening to your answers to judge you and these answers don’t affect anyone else’s career more than yours . So be honest and understanding with yourself.
Also I didn’t even want to mention your age. But because you mentioned it in your question i’m just going to make one small comment on it. People are going to tell you that you’re too young to make such a decision but that’s bullshit. I started my company when I was 18 and knew what I wanted when I was 13. Going forward I urge you to disregard your age like you would a dirty napkin and surprise people with your maturity and sense of self.
In terms of leaving school and whether or not you could juggle all these facets – that is for you to really decide. What I can tell you about increasing you capacity and juggling a number of different things is it’s truly amazing how much you can do when you put your mind to it, build some great organization systems, and rely on them. Being able to handle a ridiculous amount of work without letting it affect you and compartmentalizing various facets of your life is an incredibly valuable and transferable skill. Doing it all with a smile is even harder. When I think I couldn’t possibly be more organized, I find a system or tool that allows me to be even more productive. So do I think it’s possible to juggle? Yes I really do. Will it be hard and require some real intense organization and commitment? Heck yes. It will also require a great deal of sacrificing time with friends, family etc. So it’s for you to weigh the importance of.
One of my favourite poets TS Eliot wrote, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” I love this quote and come back to it often. You know yourself and what you can handle. If you want to stretch yourself farther than that, by all means, give it a go and commit. If you stay positive, focused, and find what vices work for you (for me it’s a lot of yoga and a good naturopath) – you can truly do it all.
So to sum it all up, I suggest you read “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, ask yourself these questions I mentioned above, write down the answers, read them back, and then make your decision. And when you do make it, don’t pussy foot in to it. Make it whole heartedly and go and crush it!
Please keep me posted on where you land!
All the best,
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