Sometimes I am convinced that rather than being a human of standard skeletal construction, I am in fact a mutant. A mutant with a weapon built in to my anatomy, and angled in such a way that no matter what posture I adopt, no matter how I attempt to align myself, I am biologically designed to shoot myself in the foot.
Obviously, this is a metaphor. I’m relatively certain that had I been born with such an actual disfigurement, my parents would have had a surgeon sort it out.
Take for instance the invitation I received once to visit a friend who had recently moved to a new city with her husband. I duly turned up, and at the dinner table somehow the topic of drugs came up. I proceeded to go on a not very compassionate or indeed well informed ramble about my negative views on hard drugs. Later I discovered that my friend’s husband was a recovering drug addict. Which went a long way to explain the awkwardness at the table.
A more recent example of my ability to put myself in seriously screwed up situations would be the time I moved to a new European country with a partner – giving up 4 years of continuous residence in the Netherlands that could count towards permanent residency – fully convinced of the strength and longevity of the relationship in question, only to have it crash and burn two months later, necessitating my return to the Netherlands.
Oh yeah, that time. Also known as now.
I can’t even blame the clusterfuck that is now my life on bad decisions, excess naivety, poor planning or whatever. We made the best decisions we could, based on the information and experiences we had at the time. Sadly there’s no preparing for some curveballs, and there are certain problems and incompatibilities that are overlooked until you’re in a situation that brings them to the fore. So of course, it’s better to find out sooner rather than later, before the greater commitment and investment makes disentanglement much more difficult. But it still sucks.
As a child, every single report card I received complimented me on how conscientious and responsible a student I was. Even now, even if I am 100% prepared musically and vocally and am convinced that I am doing a good job, if a conductor tells the soprano section that something isn’t working, I feel like it is my responsibility to fix it. Somehow, it is my individual duty to address and take responsibility for issues caused by a group. I am now of course doing the same with the breakup.
Logically, rationally, I know that it has nothing to do with either of us as individuals. It’s about how we compliment each other as a partnership, and the fact that in a few crucial ways we aren’t able to give the other what they need from a relationship. But of course, my overly conscientious brain can’t accept that. Sometimes I can’t help but think “If only I were more exciting, more interesting, more active. If only I were less boring, less reserved, less lazy.” Basically, “If only I were enough.” I torture myself imagining him having the time of his life with a harem of fun, adventurous, outgoing sex bombs, all laughing uproariously at the stupidity of him having tied himself down to such a dull frump as me for any length of time.
Of course, if I were less x and more y, I wouldn’t be me, I’d be somebody else. But if you manage to make my emotional self aware of that fact, I’ll give you a medal.
So there’s a lot of self-reflection going on at the moment. (And a lot of crying.) Some of it is simply self-destructive, some of it actually useful in identifying aspects of my life and self that I am unsatisfied with and want to address. However, one of the biggest things this upheaval has me questioning is my commitment to singing.
I wonder whether it’s enough. Whether what I get out of it is enough to justify living 15,000 kilometres away from my family. Whether it’s worth being nearly 30 and living in a student share house because it’s all I can afford. Whether I love it enough to accept the extra strain it can put on romantic relationships. Whether I enjoy it enough to put up with constant uncertainty of employment. And of course, whether I’m actually good enough to make it work.
This last one is hitting home particularly hard at the moment. One of the more disturbing realisations that came up from the breakup was how I had been depending on the relationship as a safety net in case the singing didn’t work out as quickly as hoped. Residence rights, financial stability, guidance changing career path if it came to it: it was all there, wrapped up in a cosy blanket of support and love, and it made me feel safe. A pretty disgusting realisation to come to for someone who strongly identifies as a feminist and believes wholeheartedly in the value and necessity of being independent. So in a way, having the safety net removed is a good thing, as now I will have to see whether or not I can actually do this. If it’s possible for me to support myself through singing, or whether it’s time to wake up and find another field.
Cue existential crisis.
So I have to admit, I’m feeling pretty worn down. I don’t know how long I can hold out for in Europe, trying to convince people to hire me, trying to convince governments to let me stay. It’s true that they tell you it won’t be easy, but that doesn’t really give any preparation for how hard you can find it. And I’m not sure I’m strong enough to keep fighting on what feels like every front.
Well. We’ll see how it goes.