And how difficult it can be...
Before I go any further, this post isn't just about personal intimate relationships, but friendships as well. Of course, I'll include what it's like to date as an opera singer.
When I decided to pursue this career I had no idea what was in store.I was so in love with the idea of singing on the stage as a career because it was what I was obsessed with in high school. I was in every school play and musical from the 10th grade onwards, and all of my evenings were taken up with rehearsals and voice lessons after school. I should have known then that this "hustle" was going to be a glimpse of what life would be as a young opera singer. School by day (now a day job) and rehearsals/commitments by night.
However, the reason I loved going to rehearsals was because of the friendships that I made. I connected with my cast mates in a way that I had never connected in a group before. That didn't happen to me when I danced ballet, but I guess theatre has a way of bringing people together and getting them outside of their comfort zones for the sake of the art, and to help us grow. Man, did I do a lot of growing at Atlanta International School's theatre department...
It was this sense of camaraderie that kept me hooked. Yes, the thrill of going on stage and being completely vulnerable while all of my hormones were raging was also a deciding factor to pursue this career, but, again, it was the people. The people that I spent countless hours with forming inside jokes that still make me laugh more than 10 years later (I'm looking at you, Hannah). The people that saw me break down in tears during a run of a scene in Much Ado About Nothing because the stakes were so high. I had never experienced emotion like that on the stage, and still don't think I have since then. The people that I dated, then broke up with, and had to have a kissing scene with... Now, talk about awkward... This guy and I would walk opposite ways in the hallway after we broke up, and didn't talk at all. I think it was our director's funny way of telling us "to get over it" by casting us as the main lovers... We ended up becoming good friends for the remainder of my time in high school.
So, moving on to some of the struggles...
Let's fast forward to college. Undergrad specifically.
I've never been a super competitive person until college. It might have been all of the beer pong games that I lost so terribly, and my determination to get better... but that's another story.
I guess I didn't get competitive until I saw other women, in particular, become competitive with me. It's part of the career, right? I didn't realize until much later in life that it's so much better to support the women around me rather than thinking they are my competition. We are all in the same boat, and we each have something unique to offer, so why not empower each other?
This didn't really strain any of my friendships, but the feeling of competitiveness didn't allow those relationships to grow either.
Speaking of friendships, these are some of the hardest to maintain sometimes. We make friends with the people that we are cast in a show with. Sometimes, these people understand and connect with us so much more than some of the childhood friends we grew up with.
After a show, we would part ways, exchange info, stay in touch for 3-9 months, and then lose touch. This was the cycle of a lot of friendships, and that's okay. We would occasionally catch up, but being connected on social media helped A LOT, and continues to do so.
Now, the juicy stuff: LOVE
Maybe it's my generation (I'm a millennial and we all want the absolute best all of the time time no matter what...) but dating was THE WORST for me, until I met my current partner.
I am going to cut the story a little short because we all have dating nightmares, so I will only talk about the ones that relate to being a singer.
While in college I dated a guy for five months during my sophomore year, but we broke it off because both of us were studying abroad for 6 months or so. And, to be honest, I was pretty much done with the relationship. Having that distance made it so much easier because I was focused on singing (since I was abroad in Vienna, the classical music capital of the world) and didn't want any distractions.
After graduating I moved back home to Atlanta and met a guy on Tinder. Wow, I liked him a lot and we clicked instantaneously. However, I was going to be moving away to LA for grad school and he wasn't a fan of the distance so he broke things off before anything could have really developed. I was crushed.
And it dawned on me: maintaining a relationship as a traveling artist will be hard as hell. A lot of people won't want to commit, especially if they aren't pursuing the same career.
It took me a little bit to get over him, but I most certainly did.
Now, I am in a relationship with another musician (not an opera singer, but a guitarist) who loves me more than I knew a person could love me, and the feelings are mutual. He treats me like a queen, and I am thankful for him each and every day. But our relationship, like every single one, takes work. He travels more than I do, so that's something I had to learn to deal with. He makes sure to talk to me everyday, and I the same. We make each other a priority. He's worth investing my time into.
I guess, the whole point of this post was to point out some of the woes that come along with being an opera singer, but maybe they aren't that different from everyone else?
We all struggle with relationships, and everything that's worth doing takes work, whether those relationships are with family, friends, or partners. We are in this together.
I'd love to hear your stories about maintaining relationships, and how you try to balance it with career, and everything else that comes with life! Comment below <3