Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Having it All

We live in a world where people still say we can’t have it all. Is it not 2014? Do we not live in a country where we are blessed because we can? Well, I say, we can, so therefore we will.

“Can what?” you may be wondering. As women striving for a career in opera, you can have it all.

What does it mean to have it all, anyway? Why would someone tell anyone else what they can or cannot have and what they should or should not want?  Let me say this. “Having it all” is different for every single person. Only you can decide what that means to you. I am only here to tell you that you can have it! Whatever it is you may want.

We all have to make sacrifices, everyone of us. It doesn’t matter what nationality, color, gender, or age you are, or if you are single, or married. We all make choices, and those choices are hopefully based on your ultimate goal of “having it all” (whatever that means to you).

As a married “career woman” in my thirties, I am asked quite regularly if and when I’m going to have children. My answer is consistently the same, “I don’t know.  Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll see.” (Not that it’s anyone else’s business.) But people do feel inclined to tell me one way or another their opinion on the matter. “Oh, you would be a wonderful mother. I hope you do.” Or, “Well, you’re getting to the age where it becomes much more difficult, so you should really start thinking about it.” Or, “Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to have kids.”  Never mind that I didn’t ask for any of this unsolicited advice or didn’t already know what my options were and how old I am!
Really and truly I haven’t decided. I could go either way. Yes, I think I could be a good mom and I think kids are adorable, and even though I would have to figure out how to make it work, I’m pretty sure I could figure it out. I could still pursue singing and have a family. Sure my kid might have to travel the world to all sorts of exotic and non-exotic places and sit in rehearsals with headphones as to not be deafened at an early age by all the opera singers, but they would be watching their mom follow her dream. They would discover what it is to work hard and to strive for excellence. They would learn that they could do anything they wanted to, as long as they worked hard for it. No, I’m not discouraged by a career in opera to have kids. There are lots of singers out there doing it, but that’s not the point. The decision to have kids is mine, and though the verdict is still out on whether or not I will, I do not feel that one way or another will make me lose out in life and not “have it all.”   

There are other decisions “career women” have to make. Sometimes you have to be away from your family and loved ones. Someone recently asked me, “How do you and your husband DEAL with being away from each other?” The look on my face must have been amusing, because I’m not often very talented at hiding my expressions, (works well on stage, though).

“What do you mean, DEAL with it?” I wondered. “We don’t DEAL with it; it’s not some new phenomenon that we weren’t aware of when we got together. We always knew that sometimes we would be apart for work, but if your partner is getting to follow their dreams and work doing what they love, you are happy for your partner.  That doesn’t mean you don’t miss the person when they’re away and wouldn’t prefer to be together, but because of open communication you and your partner should know how to make it work.”

For instance, when we are apart, my husband and I speak to each other every morning when we wake up. First thing we do in the morning is call and say, “Good morning, I love you.” Often times, that may be all the time there is, because one of us or the other is running off to a busy day, but we’ve started the day well. We also call on our lunch break. We know each other’s schedule and try to sync up as much as possible, to fit in another 10 minutes to check in with each other and see how things are going. We make phone dates, and we stick to them as best we can, every day that we are a part. At the end of the night, we plan on a Skype call where most of the time we just hang out while we watch the same TV show on Netflix. It keeps things normal, and we can just be together without talking, because we’re tired. Then a “goodnight” and an “I love you,” and it starts all over the next day. This routine makes you feel like everything’s normal, and it’s what works for us. If you’re in a relationship, talk to your partner and come up with a plan that works for you. It can be fun!

At the end of the day, there are lots of people who will try and convince you that it’s impossible to have everything you want, but in reality, you are the only one who can decide what “everything you want” is and whether or not you can have it. Changing your mind or not having your mind made up about what you want, isn’t a negative choice. It’s simply a choice. Keep 
following your dreams, listen to your gut feelings, and do what’s best for you.

Image courtesy of nattavut at