“My main goal in life is to not only be happy myself, but make others happy as well. I believe in self-love. After years of hating myself and struggling with depression, I got so fed up that I stopped caring about what others thought of me and just acted like myself. Music was a big advocate for this because when I played my instrument the girl who hated the world for not understanding her got to feel alive again. It turned out that a lot more people liked me after that, including myself. I made more true friends rather than my fake friends who were bullies. Many of my new friends told me when we first met that I was intimidating. I told them it’s because I was judging everyone around me, comparing myself to others and not liking the outcome.
Of course, nothing comes easy. My professors always tell me, ‘teaching is acting.’ So much so that my life motto has become ‘fake it till you make it.’ I talk a big game about self-love and happiness but that all spurred from my parents’ divorce, countless fights, bad counseling, depression, doubt and isolation. Most of those are over, but doubt still plays a role in my life. I doubt if this is the path for me because I don’t like children. I have doubt because I see half of the people start to drop out or change their major after two semesters. I have doubt because my intelligence is questioned and criticized and evaluated every day. I have doubt because it’s not an easy career and I don’t know if I’m even good enough to make it a stable career at that. It’s obvious, I have struggled and continue to do so. The only difference being that I have become better at struggling to the point where it’s comfortable for me.
When I think about the future I see two things: a blind turn and a dim Edison lightbulb. I’m not sure how, but I feel comforted and terrified by my future at the same time. The dim Edison lightbulb is warm and welcoming, like the music that set me on my path and prepared me for what is next. Yet my heart is a blind turn, suspenseful and unpredictable, as it races at what is still unknown and questions if this is all what I really want. I’m in a constant flux between confidence and insecurity. My mind doesn’t stay with one for long and I get confused a lot. I guess I could blame music, but the thing is sometimes it’s the only thing that helps. Am I a walking contradiction? Probably. Or I’ve just fantasized about living like Walter Mitty too much.
The key to an optimistic future is remembering why I’m doing this. I can break it down into four steps:
- Laugh at yourself
- Don’t judge too harshly and realize that everyone is going through something
- Realize that it is okay to make mistakes and learn from them
- Be honest.
I think of at least one of these things every single day and I feel better. I generally just try to be a better person than I was yesterday.
I got this far for a reason and I continue for a reason: giving purpose to those who are lost and giving joy to those who are suffering. If it can happen for my professors and friends that just graduated with teaching jobs already lined up, it can happen for me if I only remember my own purpose and joy. Music is an essential outlet for me to make everyone and myself feel better. This is what ultimately inspired me to teach music: to give someone else the gift I cherish so dearly and watch it change their life like it did mine. That is priceless to me.”
Emily Gazeley, 21
Music Education major, Texas State University