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KRISTEN WALKER

Awesome mom and wife and passionate about random things in life (yes I just rhymed :)

The Art of Life

October 5, 2012

 

Whoa - so I'm cleaning out my files on my computer and stumble upon a writing project I had for a class in college in 2002. Amazing insight from my younger self ... the following is what I wrote back then:

"I am a firm believer that life is what you make of it.  I have a quote taped to my computer at home that reads: “This is life, and it is passing. What are we waiting for"? Every time I see those words I am reminded of my responsibility to fulfill my dreams. Oftentimes, dreams are directly tied to success, and success is one of our main fears in life. Why success, you ask? Because success is directly tied to responsibility and we hate responsibility, even if it is to our own dreams.
 
I remember the moment vividly. I was flying back from the Christmas holidays on a late night, Southwest flight. Another season spent with family, good food, presents, and that warm feeling of winter. I was eager to come home and get back into the swing of things. I yearned to see friends, start my studying back up, and fall back into my usual college life routine. Although, something was different. I felt an unknown anxiousness, as if I was living a life going nowhere and my dreams were speeding by, laughing at me as I let my chances slip. I had felt this before, but never with such intensity. I excused myself from my cramped seat on the plane and ran to the bathroom.

I felt like throwing up, and instead I started crying. As I was standing in that coat-closet of a bathroom, those words kept creeping back to me: What was I waiting for? What was I waiting for? My life spent dreaming of the stage, the music, the audience, the success, the luminescence of it all was never to be, unless I challenged myself to actually go for it all. But I was so scared! Was I scared of rejection? Scared of how I might do? No, those weren’t the issues. 

I was scared of actually being good. I knew I had it in me, but the task of it all was too huge for me to picture at the time. I hated singing lessons and practicing everyday. I wanted to be free from the responsibility to improve upon the gift I had, but at the same time, I felt like I would die if I didn’t. So, I chose the fear.

My goal today is to inspire success. I’d like to share 4 key actions that helped me jump start the fulfillment of my dreams. 

The first is: Pinpoint a dream you want to see come true.

If your dreams are no longer in the forefront of your mind, think back to your childhood. Grab at what you always wanted to be or do, and think of it as a possibility. Remember that magical feeling of believing that anything is possible? Well good news: It still is, only our outlook has changed, and that is something you can fix.

When I was a kid, I used to bring my tape player into the garage and set it on top of the washing machine. I loved Janet Jackson, and “Nasty Boys” was my song. I thought for sure that no one could hear me if I was in there. I was so afraid, even in front of my parents to reveal my voice. 

The garage was a safe haven; my own personal arena where I danced and sang, dreaming of crowds clapping and yelling my name. As a kid, you’re expected to dream, but who said those dreams had to remain fictional?

Second: Feel the fear and do it anyway.

After that horrible plane flight, I went to the bookstore for some soul inspiration. I picked up a book called Feel the Fear And Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers. This book opened my eyes to just how silly fear makes us all. It could be fear of many things, but the most surprising fear of all was that of responsibility to one’s own success. Why are we so afraid to be great?

One of the quotes that touched me the most was that every great leader felt fear. The only difference between them and the common man was that they didn’t let it stop them. All of us feel fear. Join the entire human race, and then learn to get over it!

I knew from then on that my fear of rejection, of messing up or forgetting words to songs were all fears experienced by all of the great performers of my past. It was time to not let that be an excuse for me any longer.

Third: Go in head first and deal with the consequences later.

Just yesterday, I learned that you should never try to edit yourself while writing. If you did this, you wouldn’t get anywhere because you’d always be stopping to correct yourself. The same goes for fulfilling your dreams.

Forget about the actual day or event in which your dream will come into fruition, and just sign yourself up for whatever it is you want to do. Deal with the later, later!

I used to never sign up for auditions or competitions because at the time, I didn’t feel like I was prepared. I started making it a rule for myself to not even think twice, and just go for it. I knew that I’d be able to handle the situation when it came around, and because I already had signed up, there was little room for me to back out. 

Lastly: Rejoice in every accomplishment, big or small.

No matter if whatever you went for went horribly bad, you’ve just accomplished something you never thought you could! Delight in the fact that instead of backing down, you’ve just stood up.

After I started signing up for multiple competitions, I found the confidence in me growing, and I’d congratulate myself on every thing I did. There’s always room for errors, and I made and will continue to make many more, but the accomplishment lies in the fact that I stood up against my own odds. 

After I got home from that flight, my life changed forever. I went on to perform with some of the most well-respected conductors and coaches. I won first place in a few competitions, joined the opera and got to perform every night and meet the most amazing people who only inspired me even more. After years of learning how to sing multiple foreign arias and art songs, I held my own hour-long recital and made a CD out of it. I was a soloist for the symphony and was featured on a CD sold in my school’s bookstore. I even auditioned for the Metropolitan Opera and won an encouragement award and received an invitation to audition again. All these things used to seem so intangible to me, and yet now I can call them my own reality.

I have been having the time of my life realizing the dream that I started creating so many years ago. I had it all right when I was five years old in my parent’s garage; it just took some time to realize it. Instead of living in fear of fear itself, I am able now to enjoy and delight in the things that I’ve always wanted to do. I can only hope that these small, but powerful tips will do the same for you." 

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