Who else feels conflict between who you are and who you thought you’d be? Do you look in the mirror and not recognize the person standing in front of you? Do you like the person you see, but still find their appearance unexpected? I know I have felt this way for quite a while. I have felt the dissonance of who I am versus who I thought I would be.
When I was younger my dreams of the future were driven by the idea of being creative for a living. I saw myself as a songwriter, actor, or something else in the creative space. Those things seemed exciting and, I thought, were things that I could be passionate about for a long time. If were true, how did I end up here? I will describe where I am in more detail in a bit.
Let’s take songwriting as an example. I have posted many of the songs I have written to this blog. Songwriting is fun, challenging, and unnerving all at the same time. Penning words that the listener will hear and identify with is tough. Doing it where everything fits inside of three minutes and leaves the listener feeling satisfied is even tougher. To become proficient takes a lot of practice. To become prolific takes passionate pursuit. If I’m being honest, I have never applied either to this dream of mine.
I won’t even talk about acting. Not in the traditional sense. For the few productions I have acted in I was either an extra or a villain. Not really my cup of tea. Also, I am happily married and have no desire to act in any kind of love role. No dissonance here. I know this isn’t for me.
However, let’s not leave acting so fast. I would love to be a voice actor. I have been told over the years that I have a voice for radio. I know that I do. As I reread my paragraph about songwriting, I know if I want to make this a reality I have a lot of work to do. We will see how that one goes.
Back to that picture in my mirror. So, David, you’re telling me that you’re not the creative guy you expected to be? Is that what you’re saying? Yes and no. I don’t earn money from writing songs or singing at this time. I could in the future if I choose. I don’t make money from writing or doing voice over work. I plan to in the future. Yes, I am still very creative. However, it has manifested in various different ways…many unexpected.
Several years ago when I realized that creative endeavors would not lead me to instant fame and fortune (I never really thought they would, but it was nice to dream) I went out and got a job. I have worked in a few different careers over the past 22 years. I was a youth leader at a church for a while, led the music at a different church, and ended up leading the youth there too. Ended up with the youth at another church, until I realized that teenagers are awesome…just not 60 at a time. Not long after that I did a stint at an insurance office as an office manager. 3 1/2 years later I got a job doing something similar to what I do now…analyzing data. Now you understand why I feel dissonance between who I am and who I thought I’d be.
These days, I get to use creativity in a way I never expected. One of my primary roles in my work is to find out what people need, make the picture clear, and help them achieve what they need with their data. For some of your reading this, I know this sounds mind numbingly boring. My 20-year-old self would agree with you. However, my 41-year-old self realizes that turning people‘s needs into usable solutions is a creative skill. Many times I will take a request I’ve been given, translate it, and make it answer the question they are really asking instead of the one they thought they were asking. I’ll talk more about that some other time. Without a doubt creativity is a part of what I do every day. I absolutely love it.
At the beginning of this post I spoke about dissonance. What is dissonance? It’s a musical term that means “lack of harmony among musical notes.” Dissonance in music is not a bad thing. You will hear notes that don’t sound like they fit together, but when the music resolves you realize there was a beauty in what you just heard. The resolution is what makes it beautiful, but to get there there has to be dissonance.
I love the perspective I have gained as I have passed 40. I see my shortcomings from when I was younger and realize they don’t have to stay shortcomings. There are creative things I still wish to do. If I put in the practice and the persistence needed, I have no doubt I can still accomplish many “creative” things. This blog is quickly becoming one of those accomplishments. I am enjoying the routine of posting daily.
I still have dissonance in my life in other areas, but I feel some resolution between who I am and who I thought I’d be creatively. I am still a very creative guy. I always will be. I feel honored that I get to use that creativity in ways that provide for my family and help other people too…and to write a song from time to time.