Opera singer or office drone?
“I am a professional opera singer (currently in an intense training session that has lasted for three years). I am getting amazingly good but I am so lonely. It is a solitary career and I do not see people at "work" every day. Yes, I travel and have a great life, but it feels shallow without people to share it with. I am thinking of making a career shift just to have more quality people in my daily life instead of meeting them and then leaving again for the next destination. The problem is that I am 36 and competitive. Who will hire me at a "normal" job without corporate experience? I have many other skills from side jobs including web design and TV production, but to get a normal job, my resume has little pull perhaps. I feel intimidated and a little scared to try. Can I make a career shift this late? Should I give up something I have worked so hard/long at?”
The change you need to make is not your job. Even the words “corporate experience” depress me. You’re an opera singer! Very few people do that well and you are one of them. The world has enough corporate drones and web designers. Starting a new career from scratch now, after years of pursuing a passion that you say you are getting “amazingly good” at, is certainly possible, but you’re looking at this the wrong way.
Loneliness is your problem. Loneliness is a killer. A lonely life is the worst kind of life. So – what can you do to make your life less lonely? Ask yourself these questions: Who are the other people like you? Who can commiserate with you? Who can you phone every night to catch up on your day? Can you schedule “home time” once a year, so that for a month or two you can catch up with old friends and get your fill of companionship? It sounds like you travel a lot, and you’re always moving on just when you’re getting to know people. Do you visit the same places again and again? Do you do online dating? More and more people I know are using Tinder for travel – not for hook-ups, just to meet cool people in new cities they go to visit. Try it. Meet those people. Then, when you return to that city, meet them again. Now you’re friends.
Loneliness is also, often, a function of just not seeing enough people often enough, not only not seeing people who are close to you. Make a point of getting out, if not every day, then four times a week, for a social event. Do meet-ups. Are you a runner? Running groups in every city welcome out-of-town visitors. The same goes for other sports and hobbies. Maybe you’ll learn to play poker in Zurich or learn how to make pasta in Bologna or take a surfing lesson in Maui.
Make at least one phone call to a family member or friend per day. Don’t allow any day to go by without some human contact. You say you’re competitive. Use that to your advantage. Try winning at friendship.
A career shift later down the line, perhaps, would suit you, when you’ve take advantage of every opportunity available to you right now, and want to settle down. Can you teach aspiring opera singers? Can you write operas? Can you charge rich parents hundreds of dollars an hour to teach their little ones to sing, to read music, to appreciate opera? Can you collaborate with a composer and start producing operas of your own?
Remember: you could settle down now, get a job in an office, and still be lonely. Stick with the opera singing. Dedicate the rest of your energy to establishing human connections. You can have both.
The Decision Coach