Don’t you feel that way sometimes?
You’ve paid your dues, invested in multiple music degrees. You work hard and listen to your mentors and teachers. You’ve gone to training programs, young artist programs, and have done everything “right.” You’ve been groomed to be an opera singer. Aren’t you entitled to a piece of the pie?
Let’s face it; it takes a lot of guts and self-confidence to pursue opera as a career. Most of us working professionally think very highly of ourselves and believe in our abilities, which is not a bad thing. If we don’t think we are perfect for a role we are auditioning for, how do we expect the audition panel to be on board? If we don’t think our skills are worthy of compensation, how do we expect to be paid?
There is a difference between being worthy of compensation and entitled. An entitled person puts down work they may not love doing, thinking they are entitled to something greater. A worthy person pulls up their boot straps and sometimes takes on jobs or gigs they don’t love, and negotiates fair compensation. An entitled person feels disdain and jealousy towards colleagues who are having great success. A worthy and gracious singer realizes they don’t know everything about the hard work and journey that person has been on.
There has been a lot written about Generation Y and our supposed sense of entitlement. I do fear there is some truth to it. When I was still in school, I felt entitled to “follow my dreams,” and “do what I love,” regardless of the cost, student loans, or job market.
The truth is, having all the talent, dedication, and music degrees in the world still doesn’t entitle you to a thing. The world doesn’t owe you a lucrative opera career because you love doing it. If that’s the way the world worked, everyone who moved to Hollywood to be a star would be one. Why should you expect opera to be any different? Acting entitled is only going to get in your way. It will prohibit you from taking on jobs or gigs that you think may be “below” you, ones that might have led to greater opportunity. It will strain relationships with your friends and colleagues. It will prevent you from thinking outside the box as a performer and a musician.
Having self-confidence and knowing your worth as an artist is different than acting entitled. It’s a fine line to walk. One reads as confident and professional, and the other can come off as arrogant. Which one are you? I think we all are a little of both sometimes. I have had to quiet the voice in my head, the one that says, “I deserve, I’m owed, I’m entitled to, It’ s my turn,” and turn it around into, “I’ll work harder, that was out of my control, I can’t compare myself to others, maybe not this time, but next time.” Only you know when that voice creeps into your head. It can be tamed without sacrificing the confidence and self-worth you need to carry on in this crazy business of opera, and it will help you become a more grounded artist and gracious colleague.