Sometimes you find things in the strangest of places. I've been in Manhattan since last Thursday at the APAP conference (Association of Performing Arts Presenters). This is my first time to attend this conference and I am attending as part of their Emerging Leadership Institute. It is here... in this HUGE haystack of a city that I have found the strangest of needles.
Allow me a moment... or a few moments... to explain.
Going into this I knew I would have a blast in NYC. I knew I would learn a lot. I knew my brain would be full and my feet would be tired. I knew all of that. Those things are the obvious outcomes of almost any well planned conference. I felt that way at the IAAM (now IAVM) conference for venue management this past summer. I left that conference inspired, ready to work hard and just ready for the next big day.
However, going into this I didn't know that I would be sitting in the most uncomfortable chair for three hours on a Monday morning completely reevaluating where I am in my career. If you've followed my blog for some time, or at least have the honor of being my ear when I need one, then you know I've gone back and forth about where I'm headed in life. Do I want to work for myself full time doing something creative (selling yarn, teaching classes, etc)? Do I want to jump right into the management of a venue no matter what that venue is (theater, arena, sports complex, convention center, small club, etc)? Do I miss working in Programming and directly with the artists and artist management? Do I want to move to the agent and management end of the performing arts? What in the heck does this 30 year old want to do and where in the heck do I need to live to do this?
But there I was. Sitting in that very uncomfortable chair in the basement... erm, concourse level of the Hilton New York facing the largest revelation I've had since college. I am exactly where I need to be. I'm in a position that will allow me to take the lead on projects that will propel the theater I work into the next big thing. I'm working for someone who values my professional development and presents these amazing opportunities to me. I'm working with people who want to see my succeed and who share the knowledge that will help me get to where I want to be. For the first time in quite a while, I realized that I know, without a doubt, that I am in the right industry. I know that in 30 years, if I'm still working in a theater, I will love what I'm doing.
It really is an amazing thing to come to that point in your career. This isn't the same thing as an "I LOVE MY JOB" moment - although, I've had about 1200 of those this week. This isn't the same thing as a "look what I get to do at work and you don't" thing - although, I've also had many of those this week. This is a deeper, reaffirming, from the very bottom of my toes "MY GOD - this is EXACTLY what I need to be doing and EXACTLY what I need to keep focusing my efforts on" kind of thing.
If that doesn't have a familiar ring with you then I don't know what to say. I'm betting that only people who have had that feeling before know what I'm talking about. It's a feeling that leaves you babbling about everything filling your brain to your coworkers. I just wanted to turn to everyone I talked to today and proclaimed "I'm in such a good mood... I'm so happy... everything is fan-freakin-tastic!". The adrenaline is killing me and yet, everything is so clear.
My job is not just going to be what I do for a living, it's going to be something I live to do. How exciting is it to work in the performing arts industry? Why waste an entire lifetime not realizing that?
I hope you're not hoping I've have some important life/career goal to conclude this post with. I don't have that. It isn't a goal that has me excited, but the realization that I am doing the right thing and that I will be great at it and I don't have to question if I'm happy with all of this.
Because I am happy and if we bump into each other tomorrow, I'm probably going to tell you all about it in person.