If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was a little girl, my answer was always the same. A singer. Well, truthfully, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I probably said something really practical like a doctor or a lawyer or maybe even a teacher. Total lie. What I really wanted, what I always wished for, was to be a singer. I didn’t care what kind, what genre, how far reaching, how applauded. Just a singer. And I think I tucked this dream away, deep down, because I wanted to appear realistic, level-headed, mature. (Are you getting a better picture of what 5-year old Ryann looks like? Yeah. 28-year-old Ryann. Errr. I mean 22-year-old Ryann.)
But somehow it’s gotten so complicated. I want to sing. But it has to fit in a certain genre. And I have to look a certain way. And it absolutely cannot have any air of unprofessionalism whatsoever. And I don’t want to do covers. Or sing on reality TV. Otherwise I’m not doing it. What am I waiting for? What happened to the simplicity of my dream when I was 5? What would happen if I just looked at every step, every open door for what it is: an opportunity?
I think I might surprise myself.
I’ve seen a pattern in perception lately among artists. I should be farther along than this by now. This is much harder than I thought it would be. I’m tired of waiting for a break. I’ve even said these things. But now I’m starting to think, what gave any of us the impression this was going to be easy? Who says we move to LA or New York or wherever to make our dreams a reality, and BAM! As soon as we play a couple shows, we get a record deal? And the rest is leisurely mornings at coffee shops and trendy cafes, while nights are spent playing at sold out venues. When we feel like it, of course. Because we’ve made it, so we don’t have to do anything. Financially set, worry free. Wouldn’t we all be famous singers and actors and writers if it were this easy? Why does the part about hard work always get left out of the story?
So what if we adjusted our expectation? What could we accomplish then? What if we looked at the trajectory of our careers from the beginning and thought, this is going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and we still went after it? And loved it. I think that might turn exasperation into determination.
When I think about taking what my mind can only describe as the easy route, meaning something that provides stability but really doesn’t thrill me, my heart starts to remind me that the “easy route” really isn’t an option at all. I can’t imagine being anything other than an artist. So, while the hard route is difficult and saturated with surprises, it fills up the music shaped space in my heart where the easy route can’t even be jammed if I tried.
So now I’ll just expect to be surprised. To have my patience tested. To make mistakes. To learn a few things. To try harder. To overcome. I’m not going to set my sights on the end of the road, but rather on the journey. Because I’d rather enjoy myself on the way. I think it gives me a better chance of getting there.