This past weekend in New York, I had the chance to work with a number of wonderful performers. We sang, we laughed, and had some great conversations. Thank you Cristian for recording our time together, for sharing this piece that was meaningful for you in your search to discover ‘who you are’ and ‘what you want to do’, and for your willingness to share it with others in the hopes that it inspires them as well.
"Coming full circle to what I was saying about being older than you and the 'wisdom' that comes with it… it’s funny when I look back on myself when I was 20, like you, I feel like I was the exact same person as I am today. Any differences are less about being smarter or better, and more about simply having had more years on the planet and the perspective that comes from that. So I’ll just offer this perspective to you.
People have an idea of what a career is supposed to look like. For example, if you say you want to be a performer, it’s as if you should do that one thing until you’re 60. But you grow and change, we want different things. I was a professional singer for years, I teach, I write books, I’m a mom, I want to work with orphans and foster kids, I want to do millions of things.
Rather than following what you feel, and the journey of life and it’s winding roads, I think that the world tries to say that who you are, your identity, is That One Label: a singer, a performer. A lawyer, a doctor, a scientist.
For me, what I’ve learned is that it’s not what you’re ‘called’ or ‘what you do’ that matters, whether it’s one thing or many throughout your life. It’s what you bring.
If I bring all of who I am and my passion and heart as a singer and teacher, if I bring that to being a mom, to working with orphans, to being a wife and a friend, and a writer, then I am fulfilled. It doesn’t matter what ‘the thing I’m doing’ is or is called. I could mop floors and be fulfilled. If I am loving the people who live in that house, if I am making a difference for them, if I am giving all I have to serving, then I am at peace and fulfilled. I’m fully alive in that moment.
There are people I know and have worked with, famous singers, who miss this entirely. Not only can they not imagine being fulfilled doing anything but singing and being successful, they don’t enjoy even that. One bad review, one wrong note, and they lose it… their composure, their power, their peace.
They’re missing it. They’re missing it. The opportunity to be alive in this and every moment.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t be intelligent, or self-reflective… I can look at a book I’ve written or a performance I've given and think, I’ll do better next time. It also doesn't mean that you shouldn't follow your dreams and passions. Of course you should.
Rather, it means that fundamentally, existentially, it doesn't matter what you do or what you call yourself. In order to disappear your fears and concerns so that you can be fully alive, you have to be willing to be present in the moment and serve, whatever it is that you are doing. You have to take away the meaning of what society says is important, including about yourself, in order to do anything with joy and peace. And by taking away that meaning, you find meaning in your work, in your life, in yourself."
You can learn more about Jennifer, her work, and her books, at: www.FindingYourVoice.com