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  • Writer's pictureIngela Onstad

Are you ready for a career yet?

Does this sound familiar?

“My aria package isn’t ready yet.”

“My recordings aren’t ready yet.”

“My website isn’t good enough.”

“I’m not ready to audition for that opportunity yet.”

“I’m not ready to contact that agent yet.”

(Insert very many well thought-out and seemingly valid excuses here).

Have you been stuck in a cycle of “not-readiness” before? Or perhaps you’re stuck in one now?

I know I’ve been stuck there before. In fact, I don’t have many regrets in my life….but here’s one big regret.

Ingela as Papagena in The Magic Flute
Even as a working professional I often suffered from "not-readiness"

In my twenties and early thirties, I lived in Germany. The opera singers and classical musicians out there will know what it means to have the opportunity to live in Germany, but for those of you from other walks of performing life, I’ll explain.

Having the chance to legally (!) live in Germany for 10 years is like winning the opera jackpot. Germany has something like 80+ state-funded theaters, and it’s a country that’s about the same size and landmass as the state of Texas. Which means there are TONS of opportunities there, not to mention in other EU countries that are only a few hours train ride away.

So what’s to regret about that?

Well, I suffered from a major case of “not-readiness.”

I can only see this clearly in hindsight, unfortunately. Here’s what I believed at the time about my abilities:

I’m too young.

I’m too inexperienced.

My voice isn’t good enough yet.

My German isn’t good enough yet.

I don’t have the right aria package yet.

I haven’t found the right teacher in Germany yet.

(etc., etc., etc.)

Now, had you challenged me on any of these points at the time, I would have come up with VERY convincing arguments as to why all my reasons are valid and true. In fact, I probably would have been able to convince you that I’m right!

But was I right? Or was I just scared?

Here’s what I regret: I let the fear of putting myself out there stop me from taking advantage of all the opportunities that were right at my doorstep.

I think staying stuck in my “not-ready” excuses was more comfortable, and for a handful of years I chose comfort over growth.

Fast forward to today: after years spent working with performers as a coach, I can now see this problem very clearly. I think part of the problem is that once we leave school or similar training programs, we no longer have the same type of structure that school provided for us. We are so used to looking to our teachers and mentors to give us guidance that we don’t know how to guide ourselves. We lack the ability to be our own biggest fans and to be able to push ourselves outside our comfort zones. We no longer have to do the challenging thing in order to get the A or pass the class. It’s up to us now.

We’ve been told for so long that we need to improve X, Y, or Z, that we live our lives in constant “perfecting” mode. Let’s face it, school and training is often about identifying our shortcomings and working on them, which is definitely part of the process.

But here’s the catch: we believe that a day will come where we will magically feel “ready”, (which may be another way of saying “confident”.)

Well, guess what? Confidence is not something that gets magically delivered on our doorsteps one day. We build confidence by trying, failing, picking ourselves up, and trying again. I do not know ONE performer out there in the world who got their dream career on the first try. Confidence is built from the inside out, not “gifted” to us by someone or something outside of us.

(Now, I realize that there are actual cases where we are truly not ready for something yet. But I would argue that those cases are more seldom.)

I challenge you to ask yourself this: what’s the worst thing that could happen if I put myself out there? And if that worst-case scenario came true, would I be able to survive it?

Hint: the answer is yes. You can survive it. You really can, I promise. And you won’t build a career until you get out there and take some risks.

So, performers, go out there and take action. Hit “publish” on that website. Use the old recordings that you think aren’t “perfect”, or take action and create some new ones. Create some self-tapes. Post to your social media. Contact those agents. Make a decision about your audition repertoire and stick to your decision.

Only when we face our fear of “not-readiness” can we go out there and build a career.

And if this post resonates with you and you want help getting through this, CONTACT me for a free consultation.

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