When I first created Operaversity, I’ll admit that some pages came easier to me than others. The Start Here page is a great example of this. I had no idea what people wanted to hear about me. Do you want my credentials? Do you want my performance history? Do you want to hear about me at all?
Soon after launching, I discovered you did want to hear about me. And finally, my inspiration to talk about myself came through asking one simple question.
“What’s your story?”
I’m not exactly sure why that did it. I think because I realized that I could finally talk about myself in the way I like to talk about everything: through a blog post. So sit back and relax, because this is the story of me, and of Operaversity.
When I graduated from my master’s program and moved to Philadelphia, it was the first time I had been out in the “real world”. I was one of those crazy kids who went to graduate school right after college and came out all wide-eyed and ready to take on the world.
Then the world smacked me in the face.
It wasn’t that anything particularly bad happened. After I moved I got a teaching job and a church job, like any good singer would. I applied for several YAPs, like any good singer would. Then, I found myself miserable (not like any good singer would… I hope).
Everything just seemed so hard. It wasn’t even like my auditions or my work weren’t going well. I was getting auditions, I was getting opportunities, and in reality, I was “on track”. Everything was going to “the plan” I had set out for myself… like any good singer would. So what was the problem?
The problem was this: “the plan” was not working out because it was the wrong plan for me. Instead of fiercely marching into auditions and singing it loud and proud, I found myself looking around at the other singers and seeing how tired they were, how stressed, how uncertain, and how desperately they wanted to hide it. These singers, who during our educational years were friends, now felt they had to demote one another to simply “colleagues” or worse to “competition”. After so many years focusing on one goal, the pursuit of one career, admitting that it wasn’t working solely because I was unhappy (and unhappy for others at that) was difficult. It would have been easier if it was too financially draining, or if I wasn’t receiving concrete results. Then I could walk away without the self-blaming.
But that was the other problem. I didn’t want to walk away. I didn’t really know what I wanted.
This led me down a path of self-evaluation. I checked out countless books from the library about careers and identity and life goals and anything else that seemed remotely helpful. I read blogs and articles and anecdotal evidence about how to be the best me, how to live the life and career I wanted. Essentially, I was a total nerd about it. And everything I read seemed to boil down to one thing.
“Look at what you’re already doing and what you already love, and find a way to make a career out of that.”
“Well gee, thanks, that’s not super specific,” I scoffed. “I’m (supposedly) already doing that. I’m singing and auditioning and all of that… but it’s not quite right.”
It did make me pause though. I paused and took a good look at what I was really doing. What I realized was I needed to shift through the “shoulds” of what I was doing and get to the “love” of what I was already doing.
When I did that, I realized that while I still loved singing and didn’t want to leave the field, I had a lot of “shoulds” surrounding singing that proved problematic for a career. I also found that I was perhaps enjoying teaching more at that point. Most importantly though, I had already started blogging.
I started blogging as a means of marketing my skills. I wanted to show that I had good knowledge about music, and I wanted to draw traffic into my site so people would listen to my recordings. And it kind of worked. In my first year of blogging, I did make some good connections that led to some performance work this year. That wasn’t what I was most excited about though.
What I was most excited about were the posts that people found helpful, informative, and inspiring. Like this one. And this one. And I shouldn’t forget this one. In essence, I was excited about teaching, but in a way I was more excited about helping other singers and teachers. I was also particularly excited about it through the untraditional platform of blogging.
Making a career out of it though? That sounded crazy. Sure, it would provide flexibility for me to perform as I wanted. Sure, it would allow me to work for myself, travel, and pretty much be in control of my work and life. But how do I make a living at that? Especially when I’m relatively young and still new(ish) to the field?
This was answered for me by some of the bloggers I had started following at this point (my favorite one is here). Sure, sometimes the income reports for some of these types of bloggers seem lavish. Still, I found that my library books were switching from career counseling guides to blogging for profit books. The more I read, the more I realized that blogging for profit was mostly about providing resources like books and courses, marketing your services, and perhaps some added sales or advertisements through your site. All of which I was (kind of) already doing.
Suddenly, things became a bit clearer. Suddenly, I felt like I had a path that let me expand upon what I was doing rather than reject it. From that point on, all I needed was a name. With that, Operaversity was born.
A few months after Operaversity was already under way, I read a post by the author of Beyond Talent, Angela Meyers Beeching, entitled, “Your Blue Ocean”. I’ll let you read it since it’s short enough to get the essence of it. It sums up perfectly though what Operaversity is to me. My blue ocean.
So what do you all think? Is this going to work out for me? Actually, don’t answer that, let it be a surprise!
Seriously though, what’s your story? How did you get onto the path you’re on now? How did it deviate from what you expected? And how did that turn out better for you in the long run? I love listening to a good story!
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