April 20, 2017
The Busy Badge
This semester exceeds all standards of busy by a mile. It’s not just me, it seems as if everyone is singing the same song. The schedule I thought looked reasonable on paper is a house of cards and everyday I wonder if it is the day it will tumble to the ground. Somehow, though, it stands while swaying and teetering. How did it happen? Why did it happen?
This week I set out to reflect on my own badge of busy. Of course I missed a week of blogging (or maybe two) because I was so busy adjusting my busy badge, pointing it here and there and, well you know the story because you probably have one, too.
In the early days of freelancing it was most important to be busy. I mean really busy-the kind of busy that made you feel as if you actually had a promise of a career in this field, let everyone know you were sought after, let everyone know you were good thus validating your practice efforts with gigs and teaching, the kind of busy that filled every inch of the pages in your planner or book, as we used to call it. When we’re starting out we accept everything offered to us. There are so many excellent reasons to say yes-experience, experience experiences, experienced! It’ so important to gain experience, after all how else can we develop and grow in this field? We have to get ‘on the field’ to see how all those skill sets work out or not. We have to step on the mound so we can really pitch, not just think about it or pitch in a practice room-really pitch in a game/stage! So we say yes.
That freelance mindset is important for development but tough to shake. Even when we don’t need to be that busy we might continue feeling the need to be busy. It’s what we’re used to, how we grew up as professionals, and what we (and others) have come to expect from us. Musicians are really pretty Type A’s for the most part. We tend to excel, are fairly intelligent, driven, passionate, and a little competitive for good measure. So we say yes and continue to grow and grow and grow. Until one day, life becomes more full-maybe a relationship, a family, a hobby, classes, another job-doesn’t matter what it is-just more full. What if that wonderful, developing, growth, freelance mindset gets stuck in the badge of busy-feeling the need to keep saying yes to everything for fear of stagnating, or to stay relevant, or to have positive work assessments, or to set examples for students, or to make yourself feel good and wanted, or for multifaceted and deeply complex reasons? What if it actually inhibits your growth? Oh no! The growth mindset becomes fixed, or maybe fixated? Saying yes is exciting-almost always fun-filled with adventure, new friends, old friends, students to share with, colleagues to challenge us, and lots of what drew us to music in the first place. Many of us are energized by it but it can also zap energy. It is an intricate and delicately balanced (oh I don’t even think that balance word should exist:) and wonderful way of being. Sometimes, though, I ought not wear my busy badge. Sometimes I should take off that badge and put my feet up. Sometimes I am so abundantly badged up that it would be more appropriate to wear a cap of dunce because busy isn’t better. It is a way of life (and I do love it and thrive most of the time), but it seems to me a more mindful approach in recharging opportunities would fuel my wondrous journey in a healthier, more centered way. It’s a novel idea to me in this decade of life but me thinks it’s a good idea. In fact I believe it is a necessity.
I’m going to be very busy doing nothing really soon.
I’m already uplifted just thinking about it.
‘tis the season
Don’t worry so much, prospective students! There are lots of great schools, lots of great teachers and lots of ways to improve and reach your potential in school or not. You can make the most of just about anywhere. There are no guarantees in this business so your individual drive, focus and potential will always outperform any program or teacher.
Freshman Prep (a suggestion)
Help yourself now by purchasing a good old- fashioned paper planner. Help yourself now by writing in said-planner. Help yourself by following what you’ve written in planner. Help yourself by setting goals, schedules, practice focuses, walks in fresh air, food, sleep, fun, duets and on an on. It will take practice. You definitely don’t have this skill set yet-no offense.
One of the greatest, hugest, most intimidating parts of college is the independence you’ve been longing for. Can’t wait to get out of the house? Normal! But now what? Get your own food, get to classes, get to practice room, get to concerts, get to library, get to sleep. It’s a whole lot of getting and responsibility overnight and takes some practice (especially the sleep and eat part I have noticed.) Do yourself a favor and start practicing for college life now. If you don’t already do this, maybe offer to do your own laundry for the next few months, cook dinner once in awhile, pack lunches for school, schedule practice time-and I mean like 10 minutes of harmonics here, 20 minutes of Taffanel & Gaubert, 5 minutes of vibrato and so on. Be sure to leave time for homework but write it in so you don’t feel like the day got away from you and you’re starting to work at 10 pm (ahem, hence the sleep issue.) Maybe awaken 15 minutes earlier than you think possible and stretch and play the flute for 10 minutes before school starts so you begin the day as an opened up person and flutist. I’m just telling you that the Big O is a real challenge -that’s Organization;) If you start practicing now, you just might handle your college transition with a bit more ease. Like everything else, it will take time, lots of tweaks and changes, being flexible, being reflective, recognizing need, want, and everything in between.
Now off to sharpen a pencil so I can write in my planner.
1:45 pm Put feet up
1:46 pm Nothing