I used to get so upset when I would take career interest inventories and the results would always come back with something related to music business or the entertainment industry. I didn’t find the inventories useful unless they gave me what I felt to be a “realistic,” lucrative career option. During my first semester in grad school, I took a class called “career counseling”, where you learn methods in how to counsel others who are facing career distress. In the class, we took various inventories that are sometimes given to clients. My results again came back with things related to music business. Usually perturbed, this time I was sad. I thought it was so unfair that “couldn’t” do music? I thought “why is the fun stuff so out of reach?” I felt like loving music was a curse or a plague: “Why can’t I be one of those people that loves chemistry or medicine? Something “practical” that I can actually accomplish? Why did I have to fall in love with something unattainable?” It dawned on me then that I’ve spent a lifetime being bitter that I couldn’t apply music to my daily work-life. For example, whenever I had a poor test score in grade school, I’d grumble and think “If this test was on music, I’d pass.” My mother used to say if “you knew your school material like you knew those songs, you’d be a star student.” I convinced myself that I’d be just as content with psychology as I would be if I were in music. It’s not like I didn’t like psychology; but that ended up being the kicker. I didn’t love psych like I loved music. And it was going to start to show….
When I got bored in my grad classes, I would draw ideas I had for album covers and promotional posters. If I wasn’t drawing, I was writing poetry or songs. If I wasn’t writing, I’d be coming up with live arrangements of my favorite songs, music video concepts, and set designs for tours. I’d leave class talking to my classmates about music, not psych. Even if they didn’t care, I was talking to them about music. Recently, I was with my classmates in the student lounge, and while they were discussing all things dysfunction and disorder, I was listening to Jay-Z on my IPod. Most of my classmates have a subscription to “Psychology Today.” When they get their latest issue, they browse through theirs. When I get mine, I hack it back in the trash to get to my “Rolling Stone.” I’m trying to figure out how to cancel my subscription to “PT” now. In class, when everyone was getting all geeked and excited about what we were discussing that day, I was like “Does anybody know when that new Robin Thicke album is coming out?” One of classmates said “This (psych) isn’t your passion. You need to be working in music business.” Again, I thought “that’s never gonna happen. I better stick to this. It’ll work out. Ignore the music fairy whispering in your ear. She’s only going to get you into trouble.”
A few months later, after my brother called for some advice he said: “Now let me tell you what you’re going to do with your life: Who the heck told you to major in psychology? That’s so random. That’s not even you. All you do is talk about music. We were on a road trip for 3 hours and the whole conversation was a about music. What are you doing?” I just laughed it off. I thought “of course psych is me. I’m naturally analytical; I enjoy dissecting. I like helping people figure out what to do with their lives.” And that’s true. But looking back on it, I realize I like to help people “figure stuff out” when I FEEL like it. I like being able to pick and choose who I help, what I helped them with and when. Anyhow, soon after that conversation came the break down…..
I was sitting in class and we were going over a chapter about how to avoid “burnout.” A WHOLE CHAPTER. There was a whole chapter of suggestions on how to avoid losing it as a counselor. It made sense for the chapter to be included, considering the emotional energy involved in counseling, but for me it just amplified the seriousness of the job. I was thinking “can you tell me what’s fun about this job?” After months of hearing about the difficulties of the job and the practically incurable disorders that patients might have, it all got really depressing. The job started to seem unappealing, and I had no inherent desire to “stick it out.” I thought “if this was my passion, I would want to stick it out; the downside wouldn’t matter to me. This can’t be my day to day job. This can’t be my life. I can’t ignore music anymore. I can’t ignore my 1st love.” At that point, I decided to pursue artist development. I didn’t know where to start, but I was going to figure it out. I had to shake psych loose. My family and friends were surprisingly supportive. As a matter of fact, many asked why I didn’t make the decision earlier. Some said “aren’t you worried about not making it, or making less money?” and as I told one friend, “At this stage, I’m much more afraid of having a job I hate, than taking the risk with music and failing.” So as of now, my current game plan is to finish my master’s degree and work in the psychology field, all while pursuing a music internship. This way, I can test the waters in psych (because I may have a different perspective once I’m in the work place) AND pursue my other interests. We’ll see how everything turns out. Between the 2 options, SOMETHING has to pan out.