When I was 16, I wanted to be a rockstar.I would listen to music and get amped up picturing myself going to town, drumming in front of thousands of people. I would go to concerts and think, “Man, I wanna be on the other side of the stage.” Drumming was my dream.
There were some problems with this dream from the start, the most important being that I had really no desire to practice. Drumming on your own really isn’t terribly exciting, and I didn’t really have close friends who also wanted to be rockstars, so I was never in a band or even just jammed with people. But in my mind, I didn’t need to practice, even though all signs pointed to my absolute need to practice if I wanted to get better. It’s fascinating to look back on my mindset at that time: I wanted to be thought of as the hardest working member of the marching band, but I just felt like I was good enough to be a superstar drummer. I maybe couldn’t play along with all these different songs I listened to, but when the time came I would just be able to do it and play in my band.
In college I decided that I didn’t want to do concert band anymore, but I still auditioned for a couple other groups and played with an independent drumline for a year. But after a while (read – a couple of years) I realized that I wasn’t playing hardly at all, which certainly meant I wasn’t getting better, and I really wasn’t super interested in putting in the time or making the sacrifices to actually find a way to play. I would still get the feeling of wanting to make music or be on stage when I would be at a concert, and I would still tell myself I was better than the person on stage, but those words began to ring more and more hollow.
After college I moved to go to graduate school, and after a 5 (yes, 5) year break, I auditioned to play at church. I was pretty rusty, to say the least. I still did well enough on the different percussion stuff to play different auxiliary stuff during services, but I continued with my desire to play the drums, and show that I was better than people could imagine.
But ever so slowly, the picture finally began to come into focus: I wasn’t playing, I wasn’t terribly interested in making sacrifices or putting in the work to get better or stay in shape, and every time I thought about trying to make a career in music, I just felt like that wasn’t what was in my future. I slowly and painfully came to the conclusion that being a rockstar wasn’t going to happen.
And maybe that was the whole point, the biggest lesson I had to learn: things don’t just “happen.” My unwillingness to invest the time should have been my signal that I wasn’t as invested as I needed to be to become what I thought I wanted. This has been true for many things outside of my dreams of rock stardom as well: more times than I can remember I didn’t put in hard work because I felt like things should just come easily. Only recently have I learned that hard work will be an essential piece of anything I want to do. Nothing in life is easy: no job, no dream, no reality.
I would still love to be a rockstar, and still convince myself sometimes that this is what I should pursue. However, rational me knows not only that this isn’t feasible, but that this isn’t really my dream anymore. I don’t owe it to 16 year old me to try to become a rockstar almost a decade later when I didn’t really do anything in that decade to set myself up for success. I do feel sad about that sometimes, but in reality I have other things that I dream about doing now, other passions that I actually am interested in putting in time to pursue and achieve. Maybe these dreams will be realized, or maybe I will be doing something completely different a decade from now. In any case, I’ve learned that moving on from my dreams is not or does not have to mean failure; in actuality, I have grown, and my current life reflects that. I do look forward to exploring these new dreams, and maybe every once and awhile rocking out on some air drums while I’m listening to music.