This I Believe

Vince - Mundelein, Illinois
Entered on May 11, 2006

We Can’t All Be Rockstars

I decided to become a rock star in eighth grade, when I got my first guitar. But I think I had lined up three or four friends to start a rock band before any of us had acquired instruments. By the time I actually learned my first chord, any thoughts of doing anything besides playing music for the rest of my life seemed like a shadowy, depressing, half-hearted version of what reality should be.

I am now nineteen and a full time college student. Though I still am constantly playing, recording, and promoting music I have written, reality has now presented itself to me with all the harshness of what the music industry can be, and I’ve learned that the odds of career in music are looking pretty slim.

Here in lies a distinct problem. A grossly impractical life philosophy has seeped into our subconscious and told us this lie: if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. This would perhaps work if there was an infinite amount of resources, but supply and demand dictates that not all of us can be singers, or dancers, or painters, politicians, or writers, or CEOs. There are only a few thousand people who have the talent, looks, cultural sensitivities, and luck to be truly successful in the music industry, and chances are I’m not one of them.

We all have the same problem to some extent. We’ve set up images in our minds about how we excel at something beyond all others. Our main-stream jobs seem like drudgery because we’ve made up our minds that we possess some hidden talent or higher aspiration that we could be pursuing.

This I believe: if you can get a job doing something you love, you are extraordinarily blessed. For everyone else, work is a way to survive and there is nothing wrong with that. That is the way life historically has always been. We work to live. If you are middle aged and never pursued a career as a writer or an actor or a president, don’t live with regrets. If you didn’t pursue it, then by definition, you were not cut out for it.

In the end it won’t matter how many records you’ve sold, or elections you’ve won. The only thing that will matter is the good or the bad that you’ve experienced and cultivated in the relationships you have cherished or thrown away. If I am never successful in my interactions with music, I can still always be successful in my life for other human beings. In the end, there is no higher calling than to genuinely love the people that surround you.