I decided on Valentine’s Day that I would no longer be a soprano. I mean, a “Soprano,” as a title on my resume. Ironic, that this decision should come to me on the Day of Love. I made a decision to let something go that made me feel no love. (I love that!)
I had uncomfortably worn the title for a long time. Indeed, it is something that we all expect and understand in the world of classical music, coming out of conservatory, hitting the pavement, and making a go of a singing career. But what I knew was that it was making me quite unpleasant to be around. It made me cranky and upset and withdrawn and spiky and a liiiiiittle crazy. And also, incited homicidal inner thoughts about my voice.
What I also know is that this is not reflecting my typically peaceful and harmonious state of being and ohmygod what I would never choose to be. Yikes!
I had been growing into my work as a voice coach, developing my ideas and framework around the nature of the Sacred Voice. This continues to unfold at rapid pace and feeds me like no other work ever has. I have a vision to serve others, to connect with my own sacred center. And I desire to be liberated from that ego voice which was ruling the show for sooooo long.
So I can plainly see this soprano gig is not working. About a week prior to my big decision, I had actually started updating my performance website. I had gotten some new slapdash-get-’em headshots (after many years of ashamedly using the same ones) and knew my site needed some TLC. I started to edit the thing, and inadvertently started pulling it all down. I mean, I actually started accidentally deleting pages from the site! I started destroying my own website. (Oh that makes me smile to think of it now!)
My Valentine’s career revelation organically followed this subconscious identity destruction. I realized quite plainly that I could no longer follow this path for my voice. I had other career fish to fry. It’s time to move on.
Ok, let’s do it.
I drew a line in the sand for myself: I will no longer suffer on account of my voice.
I will let this go in order that something much more precious, joyful, and purposeful will come into being.
If my desire is to be free, then dammit, this must be the way towards that goal. Right?
It hurt for about five seconds. Then it didn’t. And now here we are.
Interestingly, I have not touched that site. I had been avoiding it. (It’s allisonmondel.com, if you are curious. It may be down by the time you read this!) For decades I had been scrambling and hustling and longing for others to accept me, to hire me, to approve of my talents, to look at what I have done and say this is impressive!
My self-worth was swept up in the ebb and tide of this external validation. It is absolutely the most normal thing in the world in the field of classical music: singers need to get noticed, they need training, they need street cred, they need to get hired. Mind you, it is wonderful to get hired! But not if it means that I sacrifice my own worth if I am not hired. Which I have done about a million times and it is basically The Worst. My level of Mettle was not sufficient enough to weather the tide.
But that doesn’t mean I’m giving up. And it certainly doesn’t mean that I will stop singing music that provides a wellspring of joy for me, and that exercises my artist muscle.
It is an interesting, unsettling place to be, shedding my old skin and growing into my new. I am not at all sure about where my “voice career” is headed, and I am ok with that. I have settled into a new role: Teaching Artist, which is something that feels aligned and awesome. And I am witnessing the path towards honoring my desire.
It is nothing short of a blessed miracle that when you do honor your desire, your desire turns into reality. I trust this process, I have seen it unfold in my own life many times. I believe that the trickiest parts are 1) determining to follow your desire and 2) being in the process of unfolding and uncertainty.
Everything is so unknown! What am I supposed to do now? Who am I if I am not this? What is the right way?
But I still recommend it. The desire for my own voice is to be free of any obstacles from my ego. My vision is to use my Sacred Voice in service of healing, both for myself, for others, and the planet. This may seem a little broad right now, but the details are filling in.
My desire informs my vision.
It is rather delightful to have both of these elements fulfilled in your career, when you have a second to notice that they are actually there. Because that is what is happening, and has been happening since I committed to myself to feel better. Tricky when you are so used to them not being there?
What I can assure you is that I have never once, since Valentine’s Day, ever criticized my voice.
Now THAT is a pretty sweet gift, indeed.