How I Lost My Music

When I was 18, I chose the harshness of reality over the possibility of pursuing my dreams.

You see, when I was in high school, music was everything to me.

It still is, but in a different sense. I put on music to accompany my day and get me through moods. But in high school, music was my day. Music was my mood.

I taught myself to play guitar in eighth grade. My brief stint as a drummer had failed, and I wanted to pursue a different instrument. The guitar fit me well and I took to it immediately. I began writing music, I began singing along with it, and I was on a search to learn any and every instrument I could get my hands on.

It wasn’t until high school that it occurred to me that I could do this, that I could be a performer. In elementary and junior high I was a misfit, the person no one liked. No one encouraged me. I was continuously shoved to the back. In high school, I was inexplicably popular. People liked me. People encouraged me. I experienced such love and support from my friends in high school, the faculty members of my high school, and even parents and other adults who barely knew me.

I flourished. People knew me as the music girl. I was in  six different bands in high school, performed in three Battle of the Bands, and played numerous other smaller shows. People loved my music. Friends had me on their iPods. Other students approached me to ask if they could play my songs with me.

As I matured, so did my writing. I did fairly well in several song-writing competitions. I played at countless school events. I recorded a mock album. And then, in the height of my accomplishments, I was accepted to Berklee College of Music.

I don’t tell you this to brag. I tell you this to demonstrate that music was my life. Music was who I was. And I was good at it.

Somewhere between my junior year of high school and my senior year, reality caught up with me. I realized that no matter how much I loved music, I would never be the best. At my high school I was a rarity, and people treated me like I was something special. But at Berklee I would be a laughing point, the uneducated and unrefined girl who thought she was good. I would be one talented person within a sea of a thousand other, more talented people. I was intermediate at best when it came to the guitar and piano. The only true stand-out talent I had was my voice and my writing ability. But lots of people can write music. And even more can sing.

So I turned down Berklee for practical reasons. The cost and the distance, mostly. But also the realization that I could never make a living off of music. My family supported me, my friends supported me, and my boyfriend even urged me to go. But I knew the truth, and as much as it pained me to say no, the idea of spending a life chasing after a pipe dream seemed even more painful.

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Something changed in me after that decision. I chose practicality over a dream. I went to an inexpensive, nearby college that I often hate with a passion. I had made a good solid choice that I would come to regret a lot in the coming years for one reason: I slowly stopped playing music.

Life got in the way, mostly. I’m a person who clings to music privately, who needs isolation and silence to compose, and in the business of college, you have no time for isolation. My musical friends were gone, and each time I picked up the guitar after an absence I was frustrated by my sudden clumsiness. It became easier to play less. I joined an a cappella group that I love so I could stay connected, but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t my music. The connection was gone.

But then something kind of amazing happened. I took a class on journalism and fell madly, deeply in love. I began writing more. I joined my university’s newspaper, and became an editor. I created Literally, Darling. I was published on Huffington Post, and I have an internship at a newspaper that I love. And I have received so much support and love from my family, friends, co-workers, peers, and random people across the globe that I have never met that it is actually staggering.

When my article about loving someone with depression got picked up, I had people from across the world reaching out and thanking me for my words. I finally was able to reach people in a way I never could with music. I had finally accomplished the only thing I’d ever wanted.

The cold hard truth is that sometimes you need to choose reality. Dreams are amazing, but the hardest lesson in life is learning when it’s time to let go. I let one dream go, only to discover another. And this one has already come true.

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