When I perform, I do not consider that selfish, pompous, prideful, or anything like that. I’m not there for the applause. I’m not there for recognition. I’m certainly not there for the money (or lack thereof).
So why do I do this? Why do I put myself through the wringer every day? (Because, contrary to popular belief, it’s not easy being a music major.) Why does my heart burn and my chest ache to go out and make myself vulnerable in front of strangers and peers—even when my anxiety kicks in and I’m practically afraid of my own nose?
Because I know that I have a story to tell. No one else can tell this story because it is written on my heart alone. I have a mission to spread joy and love, comfort and consolation, truth and beauty in the only way that I know how. When I open my heart, fully and completely and unashamedly, its outlet is through music.
Am I ever afraid? Constantly. And sometimes, I let that fear shut me down to a point where I can’t share my story. Which is funny… because that’s all I’m really afraid of.
Honestly, I’m not afraid of judgement: I can’t control what you think, and I understand that judgement happens for all sorts of reasons. It cannot deflate my inherent worth or dignity as a human being—a child of God.
I’m not even afraid, exactly, of making mistakes. I’m okay with not being perfect as long as I know that I am growing and getting better every day.
I am afraid, though, of not being able to reach people. That I will make so many mistakes that my story is obscured or misinterpreted. That I will be distracted and not give my all. That the audience will just be in a bad mood or not be receptive.
For what is the purpose of music if there is no deeper meaning or passion?
I am often frustrated that people can only see what I am giving them in the present moment. They have no idea how hard I have worked on something or how devastated I can be when I don’t do well. They only ever see little snippets of the story.
And this is exactly why I must perform. I need to share my story—my gift—with as many people as possible, even if it’s not yet complete. If I sing one thousand concerts and act in one thousand shows, and ONE person’s life is changed (even if it’s just that they feel loved for a moment), it will all be worth it.
Every time I am vulnerable through music, I share one more, tiny piece of my story. That piece will never be the same from one night to the next. But every night, I will discover one more piece of my puzzle until even I begin to see something beautiful emerge from the shards.
The world may try to shoot me down, but I will never give up. If I ever stop making music, I will become a mere husk of who I once was. But I am strong. I am afraid, but my love is stronger than the fear. “Many waters cannot quench love, even though the floods drown it.”
So why do you do what you do? What burning mission drives you? Do you just work because you need money? Then what is your outlet for sharing your story with the world. We need to hear whatever it is that you have to say. We need you.