Ask MetalGF: The Musician vs. Regular Lifestyle Choice, and How to Deal with Your Trump-Supporting Relatives
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I’ve been a musician my whole life, and I’ve been in bands ever since high school. I tend bar to support myself, and my job is usually cool with me going on the road to tour. But I’m getting a bit tired of the lifestyle, and I’m thinking maybe it’s time to look at graduate school or law school and start a new career. I’d really feel like I’m “selling out” if I go that route, though; music is so important to me and it’s always been how I define myself! Should I stay the course and hope one day I can make it as a full-time musician, or should I go back to school?
– Confused in Columbus
No offense to people who like to make a living and/or like being in a band, but these two things are usually mutually exclusive. There is basically no money in music. Unless you’re Ariana Grande or a coach on The Voice, you are not in this for the money. It is a passion and a talent and part of who you are, and I get that. But quality of life often requires payment, and sometimes in life you need to pay for items such as housing, insurance, groceries, emergencies, pizza pies and laundry detergent.
The part of your question that stands out to me is that you are getting tired of the lifestyle. All financial issues aside, it sounds like maybe you are ready to move on. Going to school is a great way to regroup, meet new people and change the way your brain is used to thinking. The trick is going to school for something that’s useful AND you’re interested in. It doesn’t have to be “selling out.” Not touring with a band doesn’t have to mean running a hedge fund. It can still entail staying creative. Law can definitely be be a more right-brained endeavor — what about entertainment law? Help poor musicians like yourself whose ideas get stolen or who just need guidance in a litigious world. What about going back to school to be a teacher, a band leader or music teacher in an elementary or high school? Nothing “selling out” about that.
Maybe this is a long shot but what if, with the flexible schedule you have now as a musician and bartender, you try a new profession a few days a week and see if you like it before investing more time and money? I often tell my students interested in law school to try being a paralegal for a summer before they apply. I would say the same to you: try being a paralegal or interning before you commit to higher education. Take some time for self reflection: what do you really like doing? What could you do every day and not want to die? If the answer is tending bar and making music, great! You are already doing it! But if the answer is something that might make your life a little easier, like teaching or lawyering or working in an office, then you can do that. You sound smart and cool and I believe in you.
Also, being a lawyer or a teacher or anything else doesn’t mean you can’t still love and enjoy playing music on the regular. Sometimes, when your hobby becomes your work, it also becomes less fun. You may enjoy it all the more once it isn’t the focal point of your life and it doesn’t exhaustively take you on the road; you can just enjoy it on the side.
My wife’s family is full of ardent Trump supporters. I’m dreading visiting them over the holidays. Do I try and engage them in meaningful conversation, or just keep my mouth shut and play nice???
– Liberal Lady in Kentucky
Oh lord, my sister! I am so sorry. This is very hard. I was thanking God on the daily over Thanksgiving that no one in my family or Vince’s are Trump supporters and we could have a somewhat peaceful holiday. It really depends where you are at emotionally. I know, for me, it is better to not engage with Trump supporters politically at this time. I just feel like the divide between us is too great at this stage, and I am too much of a crying hot mess to rationally discuss his administration without losing my shit and/or mind. For me, as a woman and a person with empathy and the ability to think critically, I take it too personally. So I’d stick with safe topics or silence, and just try to make it through without permanent rifts.
But maybe you, Liberal Lady of KY, are a stronger woman than I. If so, I say go for it. IF you feel you can engage them in a way that will not result in sobbing or screaming, then why not? Maybe you could start by asking them the hard questions that might help you understand them better, such as “What are you looking forward to in this presidency? How do you think it is going so far? Are you happy with his cabinet picks?” Then move on to more personal inquiries like, “Do you see where our side is coming from? Do you identify with Kanye politically? Do you care about people who aren’t white men? Have you ever spoken to a non-white person? Do you think women are capable of decision-making? Did you know Aunt Diane had an abortion? How much or how little do you like Nazis? How do you sleep at night??? Are you a fucking TOTAL EVIL DICK WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?” See? I can’t hold it together. But maybe you can. Let me know how it goes.