A few years back I crossed off what seemed like the most impossible bucket list item to cross off: travel to London. I took an independent course where I was supposed to do all the work throughout the semester, lets be honest I finished last minute, and then jump on a plane for a 10 day trip that had nothing to do with the course at all. It’s very educational you should try it.
London was the last 4 days of the trip, and my excitement was through the roof when the day finally arrived to drive into the city. I got off the longest boat ride of my life from Wales and although I felt pretty sick, nothing could rub that smile off my face. We made a few pit stops along the way and as we inched closer and closer I was happier and happier.
OXFORD: Beautiful, architectural, surrounded by genus’; I bought a sweatshirt.
ANNE HATHEWAY’S HOME: Tiny, quant, great shots for a new profile picture, I never used the picture but if you need one I recommend going there; Made me want to love history.
ROMAN BATHS: Old, warm (I touched the water, but don’t tell them they were very strict on not touching it), gross, why would people all bathe in the same dirty water; I ate a really good ice cream cone.
STRATFORD UPON AVON: The reason I wrote this blog.
We had one hour to explore the beautiful cobble-stone area and then we were off to London. There was a famous pastry shop recommended, so like any tourist my friend and I went there to eat. I couldn’t tell you what I ate of the menu, but I can tell you something I learned during that hour.
There were amazing street performers across the way from where we sat. I was mesmerized by their harmonizes and passionate gestures, especially the lead guy singer. One of the things I’ve promised myself to do in life is to tell others who I think are very passionate and excellent at what they are doing, that they are passionate and excellent at what they are doing. Unless their other talent is mind reading, they will never know my thoughts. So after my last bite I got up and went over to the young man. I was cut off by a few teenage beboppers wanting to take a selfie with him. It didn’t last more than 2 minutes. Laughing and all giddy they walked away and it was my turn to tell him my thoughts. We engaged in a great conversation about music and passion and I told him that I think he is very gifted musically. I appropriately slipped in that I too was an artist to try and emphasize how much I believe in his talent. But I didn’t expect what he would say next. Most people say thank you and humbly look away. Not him. I can still feel the nerves hit the pit of my stomach when he asked me to “have a go” pointing the guitar my way.
It might have been more than 10 seconds before I mustered up a response. “Oh I don’t have time to play because we have to catch the bus, but thank you.”
He understood my need to leave and gave me his website info to look out for his music. He was a nobody then, but I really believed he would make it.
And he did.
The excuse I tell others when this story comes up: We had 10 minutes to get back on the bus and I had to use the bathroom.
The excuse I wish I honestly told him and everyone else: We had 10 minutes to get back on the bus and I had to use the bathroom but if prepared I would have risked being late to the bus to street perform in England. The truth is, I wasn’t prepared to play guitar + sing anything I felt comfortable with. The one song I would have played was Only Exception by Paramore and it was just polished off by the girl he was collaborating with. Who knows what he might have said? Maybe he would have thrown out a few songs that I knew lyrically and accompany me on guitar. I will never know. But although I didn’t sing, I didn’t have much regret when I walked away since a few nights prior I had sung one of my original songs in a local Irish pub. I did butcher the song at the pub, but I didn’t really care, and neither did anyone else. I mean I was singing in an old Irish pub you see in the movies. Most people were drunk or fascinated I was from America so it all went over well. And hours before that, I had been mistaken for Selena Gomez by a bunch of Irish high school graduates. So you could say my self-esteem was very strong at this point on this trip. However, I recently saw this kid’s success and thought about how cool it would have been to say I street performed with him in England. So I’m now feeling the weight of regret.
But I’ve decided to not wallow in it and instead take the lesson I’ve learned from it:
Be prepared for the unexpected moments, especially within the realm of your passion or gift.
Since I love music and want to tell other future artists that I meet what I think of their talent, I must be prepared with their response, especially if I slip in that I too am an artist. They might ask me to sing or jam like this kid did and I don’t want to let another awesome opportunity pass by because of my lack of preparation.
So what do I do to prepare?
It seems simple, but it is hard for me sometimes to sit down and practice covers if I don’t have an event coming up. But again, I’ve come across other moments where people have asked me to sing on the spot and sometimes I really don’t want to because of that unprepared feeling. Since this incident in Stratford and a few other moments in college similar to that moment I try to have a few songs always up my sleeve.
2. Be honest.
If I am not prepared or maybe half prepared when someone asks me to sing music or asks me to do something on the spot I should be honest with them and not rely on an excuse. Making excuses could cover your embarrassment or lack of preparation in that moment, but in the long run it won’t help you to excel. I mean you could be reading a different story if I was honest with this kid. So be real, be you, and be honest.
3. Last one. Take the risk regardless.
I think we can become perfectionists and miss opportunity because we think we aren’t prepared when really we are. I fall into this trap a lot too. So now, if I have a song to sing when someone asks me to I do it, even if I don’t feel it’s perfect I sing it. Most of the time people don’t notice the few mistakes and I feel stronger as an artist and most importantly, personally about myself. Risks push us out of our head and help us recognize that we are capable of more than we think.
So what are your passions?
Dancing, history, doing math equations, learning about science?? Whatever it is you are passionate about, are you prepared for the unexpected moments that might arise around this passion?
I’m not perfect at preparing. I’m actually probably the worst at it, but lets both make a deal to prepare because maybe another sweet brit might ask me to “have a go” and I don’t want to miss that opportunity again.
Until next time…
Oh and if you were wondering, we did make it to London and it was 4 of my favorite days ever. I literally cried as we drove into the city. Below are a few shots from it. I know I’ll go back one day.