As you know if you have been reading my blogs, I don’t typically write about myself. It’s that time of year for reflection I guess and I thought to share of my own personal background and experience. As we ponder our career choices in life, we usually are faced with making decisions about our life’s path as we graduate college and enter the work force or sometimes opportunities present themselves even earlier in life. I faced my career choice at the age of 12. I had been taking piano lessons since age 6 and my teacher, who was the first violinist for the Metropolitan Opera orchestra, noticed that I had a talent for song. She suggested to my mother, a former opera singer herself, that I should audition for the children’s choir at The Met. My mother, somewhat cautiously asked me whether I would be interested in that, and I said, “Sure, why not? What do I have to do again?”
So, with little preparation and more courage than most at that age, I left school early one day and headed off to audition with the musical director at The Met. I recall how effortlessly I traveled to the audition and waited for my turn to sing, listening to all those who were auditioning the national anthem who went before me anxiously wondering when my name would be called. There were slight butterflies but nothing too paralyzing because, hey, I was just doing what I knew best: to sing the national anthem which I did everyday at school for the past six years! After all, how hard could that be! Fearlessly I sang, and triumphantly I was selected to sing in the chorus. At 12 I sounded more like I was 18 to which the choirmaster commented to my mother on what a clean, strong voice I had. Gifts we took for granted at 12. And so began my career as a diva, singing on the stage of The Met for magical performances like Humperdinck’s “Hansel & Gretel.” Music, lights, rehearsals, make-up, wardrobe…. it was any little girl’s dream to play dress up and make believe and even get paid to to do it! No one would ever call this work, but in actually that is exactly what it was.
And so it went for nearly two years, leaving school in the middle of the day to attend dress rehearsals, negotiating singing in class at school instead of doing my math homework, being the envy of the kids in school, a bit of a celebrity, a bit untouchable. It was a cool time because let’s face it – a 12 year-old facing adolescence is anything but cool! But for a brief moment I felt like there was nothing I couldn’t handle and that I had gifts I didn’t know I had and I was actually well, wanted. It was a time when you can take for granted what you don’t know you already have-a hidden talent and then with a little encouragement, make the most of it.. Gifts are sometimes revealed to us in mysterious ways, by accident or for some by hard and steady work over many years. It doesn’t really matter how or why you become who you are and the choices you make along the way. It does matter that you know what you want and don’t want and are able to make a choice based on following that inner voice inside.
Well I guess you can gather where my career has taken me to writing and offering career advice that I probably didn’t stick the course with my operatic career. The truth is and much to the disappointment of my mother, I was not passionate enough about it. I loved to sing but something at a very early age told me that was not what I was suppose to be doing for a living. There was a lot of rigid structure, discipline and commitment that I just did not have. I was and am too curious about the world, other forms of music in particular that I would have had to give up in order to dedicate my life to singing opera. It was a commitment at 12 that either I was too young to make or didn’t possess the drive to commit to. And so my career started at as a diva and here I am on the web!
I think we all have choices to make about what truly drives us. My goal was to help people. That has always has been my overriding ambition. I guess I didn’t feel at the time that my voice, or singing was a way for me to truly express myself . Even though I had a gift that was recognized early on, I was not “feeling” that it was my calling. I thought my voice could be used instead to speak or to write in order to help others and not necessarily to express that through song. I guess I will never know if that was the right choice or not. I do know that the journey I’ve taken so far and am on now has allowed me to meet and interact with smart, intelligent and wonderful people and that I’ve learned so much from that perspective and moreover the thousands of people I’ve touched and helped along the way.
I learned a lot from my two years at The Met too-I learned that you don’t have to be afraid to shine, to express yourself and your talents. It’s okay not to make choices on what other people want for you but to truly follow your own light of ambition and do what you truly feel is right for you. Making choices about your career may come at an early age, when you graduate college or even later in life when you may feel the need to change careers. You may be presented with opportunities that seem effortless and be guided to walk through doors that open magically for you. Whatever your calling, where ever you feel most drawn to perform your best, that is the choice that is right for you. Follow the motivation to reach your highest potential and know that only good comes to those who walk the walk. That is, to walk your walk.
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