Putting Myself First

Putting Myself First

I remember it like it was yesterday.

I was in my third semester of college at Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts studying Jazz Saxophone when one day I finally decided that I had had enough. It was a Sunday night and I was in the practice room stressing over learning the parts for an upcoming gig when I finally snapped and called my Mom.

"I can't do this anymore!" I exclaimed. I begged my mom if I could come home and take the rest of the semester off, as I was feeling the pressure of failing multiple classes and the countless hours of practicing.

Though she was concerned and understanding about my situation, she said that I needed to finish what I started. After an hour long phone conversation, we mutually agreed that it was best I finish the semester.

What I told my mom during this conversation was that I needed to take a semester off to simply practice and get better at my instrument. What I did not tell her, however, was that what I really needed was a switch in career paths.

For nearly my entire life, all I had ever known was music. I was a multi-instrumentalist growing up, and I sang in choir as well. I was never a spectacular student growing up due to the fact that I was much more interested in my musical pursuances than I was in my school work. I was always first chair in Jazz Band, and often played in IMEA and local honors bands as a Saxophonist.

Music always came easy for me; I never had to practice that much growing up. I come from a musical family, and always had a degree of natural musical ability. As a result, choosing to pursue music as a career was a fairly easy choice for me.

In the fall of 2016, I packed up all of my stuff and moved down here to Chicago to attend the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. At that time, I was psyched to be taking a less conventional path in life, and I thought it would lead to nothing but happiness.

I had a ball my first semester. I enjoyed doing nothing playing music each and every day, and also met so many cool people who became my musical colleagues. However, I began to notice that I had a special disdain for practicing. I was always reliant on my natural talent to get me by, and although I tried hard to keep up with my practicing every day, I noticed my motivation levels simply weren't as high as everybody around me.

For awhile, though, I was able to get by with any real problems.

My next two semesters were a constant struggle. I often went days--sometimes weeks--without practicing, and I was often late to lessons and rehearsals. Sometimes, I didn't show up at all. It got to the point where I was putting in the bare minimum just to pass most of my classes.

Midway through my third semester was when I hit the breaking point that I elaborated on above.  I wanted to believe that I just needed to get away for a few months, but what I really needed was to accept the fact that majoring in music was not for me.

In the weeks that followed that phone call, I gradually began confronting the fact that I needed a switch up. I thought a career in journalism would be interesting, as I always had a true passion for writing. I decided to switch majors for the Spring 2018 semester.

However, I was not done making life changes.

While I always liked my time at Roosevelt, it wasn't allowing me the room to be creative. I knew Columbia College was right next door, and I had always been interested in attending art school. I began researching their journalism program, and I ended up falling in love with it. I applied and ended up transferring in for the Fall 2018 semester.

I am now wrapping up my first semester here, and I can say that I am having a blast! This school has already opened doors for me that I couldn't possibly have found at my other school. This experience has truly taught me the importance of putting myself first, and that happiness comes above all else.

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