The Reality of Finding a Purpose

Was it taking my car in for service that made me feel weird? Or is the fact that I even have a car to call my own making me feel out of place? Was it my protracted confusion at the Harris Teeter over why the “cheaper” celery was a whopping $1.79? (Sainsbury’s sold it for less than £1.) Was it getting rid of old sweaters that have hidden themselves, crumpled and forgotten, in the back of the bottom drawer of my dresser, remnants of a bygone era when sweatpants and a long-sleeve T-shirt were acceptable choices for every day attire?

I’ve known for a long time that I would be moving back home, but I still can’t seem to shake the feeling that I’m really out of my element. Some days I begin to think I miss London; in reality I think I miss the independence. Nobody here hounds me to check up on my emails or get a move on with finding a job (they know that will happen eventually) and nobody has been judgmental about my lack of employment or my choice of spending my education studying what often seems like a dying art. None of the typical “college student returning home” issues have cropped up (which means my greatest fear hasn’t been realized)… and yet something is still missing.

No, as much as I hated getting up at 7:30 every morning in order to get in and practice before all the rooms were taken, I liked the feeling of having to get up for something. That feeling of, I have to get up in the morning because I have to do this or that. I have to practice for this masterclass, I have to print out this Mahler part so I can study it, I have to find the score for this quintet before rehearsal at 3.

Here's where motivation automatically occurred in my previous life.

Here’s where motivation automatically occurred in my previous life.

All that purpose evaporated when I landed in Baltimore. I am the gummy residue left behind, the person who has to figure out what she actually wants to spend time doing now that there are no requirements and no deadlines. I don’t have to study any Mahler. I don’t have any masterclasses at all. Hell, I don’t even have to practice if I don’t feel like it!

And herein lies the main difference between school and real life: In school it is easy to motivate yourself because you are required to do certain things; in life you must find what you are motivated by on your own.

So here I am at this crossroad. I spent most of my last year of school doing things that I really wanted to do, so I know well what motivating myself feels like. My biggest successes were things that I carefully selected outside of the Academy and pursued relentlessly. I know this drive eventually roar back; after all, I have never been known as an apathetic person. The time is soon coming that I need to get off my bum and actually make an effort. And yet…

And yet for now, I’m still taking the time to mourn the death of the ease of motivation that I always felt in school. I’m mourning the loss of endless assessments and required performances, since those were what always jump-started my practicing every autumn. I’m mourning the death of weekly lessons that forced me to stay prepared. I’m mourning the loss of quick access to a community filled with musicians who liked playing together.

Eventually I’ll spread my wings and fly, I have no doubt. But for now I’ll mourn the fact that I suddenly am going to have to do a whole lot more work on my own.


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