To start things off I wanted to talk about lifestyle. By this I mean my lifestyle…how I was living in the United States v.s. how I live now in the Czech Republic.
I grew up in a suburb called Santa Clarita. It is about 30 miles north of Hollywood and 40 miles north of Los Angeles. Although it is not an urban, metropolitan city it is your basic safe neighborhood with many families. However being in Los Angeles, money is a HUGE factor in your comfort living there. There are many people, which means there are many cars (traffic), and the competition for children in sports and in school seems to be very high. I would say Sundays are very quiet but the week is full of hustle and bustle from the average middle class families commuting to work, dropping off the kids at school or extra activities and of course going to the mall, movies or restaurants in their free time.
I always felt safe in my town growing up. I was generally a happy kid and I was always very involved and looked forward to school. Of course, I went through my awkward phases as we all do during puberty and dealt with your normal teen self-confidence issues but overall I liked my childhood.
However in the years after high school, I began to have some real life experiences at University and with people from all different backgrounds and I slowly began to question everything. Why was I working so hard in school? Is it normal to be so stressed out all of the time for these good grades? Why do I have to kill myself going to work and school just to end up with no money in my pocket because of living expenses? Is this school really even teaching me anything? Why is it so expensive? How come everybody else seems totally fine doing this?
Why do I not feel alive or positive or good other than when I am performing?
I suppose I had some feeling when I was younger that I was always happiest when I was singing or just strolling along outside listening to the birds. But I didn’t realize that that WAS truly all I needed to be happy and the world all around me wasn’t giving me ANY time to even stop to walk around or sing.
Fast forward to after University when I was so excited to get out into the professional industry because now I could actually get paid for my skills! I could actually feel useful, working “normal” hours and having SOME TIME for myself!
Well I started working two part time jobs. One job was at a florist from my time during University and the other for the concert promoter of Coachella. My wage was fairly decent for a college graduate! I would even say is the starting wage per hour for many of my peers as well! I was making $15/hour, living in a guest house for $300/month (which was a favor to me because that is NOT a normal rent for that location). I owned a car, paid for car insurance and dun dun dun…began paying off my student loan debt.
I was working 6 days a week which totaled to 40 hours a week. I commuted three days of the week to downtown Los Angeles (2 hours there and 2 hours back). I was in a cover band because that was my only source of music at that time and still felt like there was no time to cook a meal, exercise or sometimes even sleep. That’s right I used to clock when I had to go to sleep because I would be stressed that if I didn’t have enough sleep I wouldn’t be healthy enough for my work the next day OR the rest of the week and then I would get ill.
I knew after about a year that SOMETHING HAD TO CHANGE!
I couldn’t live like this and I didn’t want to live like this. I would try to talk to my parents but they were convinced that if I just made more money everything would be fine. Their suggestion was to get a job in insurance because salary started at 40k a year and offered benefits. (ok I got a music degree folks). I know they were only trying to help but each time I came to them I had to explain that it wasn’t just about money. I missed singing. I didn’t need to make a ton of money but I wanted to be comfortable enough to save and eat without feeling like I was spending the last of my earnings. Not to mention I would just LOVE some time for myself! I was 23! I didn’t want to sell out so fast and work in insurance.
So it took a while because I lacked confidence to do something different. I had one role model who was an amazing woman and a clever entrepreneur but I knew that even she lacked the burden of student debt in the beginning . I was in the midst of paying back quite a large student debt so for me it would be a HUGE risk.
My family was all part of the system. Go to work, work there until you retire, get married, have a family, buy a house within 10 miles of all the rest of your family and enjoy your weekends. There wasn’t anything wrong with that! So why did it feel uncomfortable for me?
After a year of rushing and dying trying to make ends meet I basically said FUCK IT. I wanted to sing and I wanted to get paid a decent wage but also have a flexible schedule so I had time for ME!
I auditioned for a few cruise lines before one hired me. Once I got the job, I tried to sell or donate ALL of my things so that everything I owned was in a suitcase and I didn’t have a monthly bill for living expenses. The cruise ship company paid for my travel, my rehearsal time, a great monthly salary and I got to do the two things I loved most…singing and performing.
Besides the fact that I loved most of the performing community and feel most connected to them, I also loved the travel aspect and the fact that I had TONS of time to read, listen to music, catch up on tv, exercise, dream new dreams and try to learn a new language. Once I tasted this life and met so many people with so many different life scenarios and ways of making a living, I finally decided that whatever I wanted my life to look like was possible.
I realized that if I feel I don’t vibe well in one place or with certain people, there are so many other places and other people in the world that I could vibe with. I realized that I am not JUST a singer or JUST someone who can work at a florist. I could make a living using many talents and have many different income sources.
I realized that if I want something to change I have the power to make it happen.
This confidence and this way of thinking was like a drug to me and suddenly I realized that even if others didn’t understand, I could defy what was expected of me and create what I wanted.
You can live a life that seems impossible to others. You really can live your dream as long as you are willing to work for it and think creatively.
Since then I have moved to Czech Republic, I became an english teaching assistant in local schools, I’ve had private english lessons with adults as well, I worked for a non profit and learned all about community development and I still sing and perform but most importantly I have time for myself. Time to exercise, to educate myself on whatever Im interested in next, to create my next goals and to enjoy life.
That to me is priceless.