Success. It’s something we talk about a lot at our house. What does it mean, and how does one achieve it? In my opinion, it’s about being able to do what you love, and do it independently, so you don’t have to mooch off other people in order to support yourself. From experience – and from watching others – I’d say, finding it is a matter of setting a goal and sticking to the plan. Of course, having a natural talent for something, taking advice, and reflecting on your actions as you go along helps tremendously.
This topic reminds me of what happened with my daughter a few weeks ago. She was sitting in the backyard working on stuff – music mostly because that’s what she does in her spare time – when she heard a noise that sounded like a cat getting crushed. Like the good “I would do anything to save a furry creature” daughter that she is, she jumped up without a care for the computer on her lap or the external hard drive that was attached to it, and she went to see what was wrong. The good news: nothing bad had happened to the cats. Whew – my biggest concern. The noise? Well, it must’ve been our neighbour – he’s kind of weird, and he does drugs. Enough said. The bad news: my daughter’s hard drive came crashing to the ground in the process, after which, it just wouldn’t work anymore.
In a hurry – because that’s how we operate at our house when our daughter goes ballistic – we took the broken box to our computer guy. Sadly however, after painstakingly trying to retrieve the information – ALL of her stuff (essays from the past, song files she’d been working on, videos she’d made, pictures, etc.) was gone.
“That’s it. It’s the end for me. I won’t be able to recover from this,” she wailed after hearing the news. “I can’t be a musician anymore. I might as well get a job at Bulk Barn…where…I’ll be…forever.” She said this lying on the floor in a heap.
“Wow, that sounds pretty depressing,” I said, stepping over her to get to the sink. There are always dishes to do. “At least, they sell natural almonds for when you get hungry. But stay away from all the gummy candies and chocolates. Gaining fifty pounds at this point probably won’t help your self esteem much.” If you should know anything about me, it’s that I’m sarcastic as hell. Sure, I did feel sorry for her, but bad things happen to everyone. She needed to learn how to cope.
Now, after all the years of dance lessons and dance competitions that my daughter has been through – the ballet-related ones in particular because they are especially dry – I would’ve thought that she knew what “working hard” for something meant. Watching her traipse around the house so pathetically for days made me wonder. As usual, I addressed the situation with an analogy. “You know, doing what you love in life is very similar to being married for a long time…”
I caught her while she was making a sandwich. “Oh god. Here we go…” She hates (but secretly loves) my stories.
I continued, “When you take your vows, you typically pledge to be with your partner through ‘thick and thin’, through ‘good times and bad’. But then half of all relationships end in divorce. What do people think? That ‘bad’ means having to un-ball your partner’s dirty socks before putting them in the washing machine? Or putting up with the fact that your partner is in constant close contact with someone ‘super cute’ at the office? No. Those aren’t bad times. Those are regular times. BAD times mean catching your wife sleeping with the pool boy or worse, your brother. Or when your husband is slowly turning into an alcoholic – a very unpleasant, bordering on psychotic one – because his boss is an asshole, and because he also (double whammy) has a gambling problem that he is trying to pay off. Stuff like that. Those are bad times, and THOSE are the times that you agree to work through.”
“Mandy, stop. What does this have to do with me?” My daughter has called me by my first name since she learned to speak. It was cute in the beginning, but then it stuck. Now, there’s no point in trying to correct her. She is just that stubborn. Which is why her announcement that she’d have to work at Bulk Barn “for the rest of her life” was perplexing. When she wants something, she’ll go to any length – and I mean ANY length short of killing someone – to get it. Silly me for assuming that she wanted to make music.
“Staying married to someone long term is very much like committing to a dream, because both take working through the bad times. And I should know. I’ve been married to your father for over twenty-five years AND I’ve raise you three kids to be fairly competent contributors to society. Plus, I’ve done a bunch of other great things…” I smiled slyly. She rolled her eyes.
“So say for instance, you wanted to become a famous Youtuber. You’d have to realize that sometimes, the internet won’t work properly and you will have trouble uploading your videos. You may have to go to your friend’s house to do it. Or – heaven forbid – the library. Or maybe you want to be the lead singer in a rock band. You’d have to anticipate the fact that singing every day for hours will take its toll on your vocal chords, and that quite often, you may think that you are losing your voice and – because of the pressure to perform – quite possibly your mind. Or maybe you want to be a musician – say a rapper/singer/video maker, I don’t know – and you’ve created a whole whack load of songs on your computer, and then suddenly, when you are outside one day, you hear a sound that makes you think that your cat is getting run over by a garbage truck, and you jump up, the external hard drive that is attached to your computer getting trashed in the curfuffle. And then what? Do you say, ‘Oh my god, now I’ll have to work at Bulk Barn for the rest of my life.’ Or do you say, ‘Shit happens,’ and then you go on to make another song, and then another, and then another, because you are talented like that, and time stops for no man?”
And yeah, I say this kind of stuff to my daughter, AND to my sons whenever they hit a roadblock. And trust me, there have been MANY, MANY roadblocks over the years. Yes, they get to hear all of my long-winded explanations and crazy theories. It takes a while though for people to pick themselves up depending on the severity of the setback. Often, it requires a little “tough” love, a little motherly “stop this right now, you are driving me nuts” shove.
Yes, it took two weeks of my daughter watching reruns of Dr. Phil before she got going again. “Quintessa…” I always call her by her full name when I’m fed up, as many mothers do… “I understand this whole ‘I lost my hard drive in a crazy I-was-attempting-to-save-a-cat’ thing is difficult for you, but you can’t just sit around eating watermelon and popsicles, and watching bad cable television forever. Your father won’t allow it. And I can’t cover for you any longer. A person can’t be sick ‘with womanly issues’ indefinitely. No, it’s time to forge ahead, to move on, to do something productive, to get back to chasing your dreams. Life is about the journey anyway. So if you enjoy making music, then keep making it. Eventually, you will get to where you want to go. If that’s impossible, then I guess you didn’t really like making music that much in the first place. And maybe Pitbull is better than you.” She hates Pitbull. No doubt, a little “if he can make a bazillion dollars from being an absolute slime ball, then what are you waiting for” competition never hurt anyone. “Remember: everyone starts somewhere. It’s just a matter of who keeps going.”
“Stop being so logical,” my daughter replied. “I hate it when you are right.” Unfortunately for her, that is the case almost 100% of the time.
To see what she is working on these days as a songwriter/singer/rapper/dancer/performer, check her out here – Miss Quintessa Evangeline. I know, great name. I picked it. And it means something very profound, but that’s the topic for another blog post. 😉