Looking Forward: My Last(ish) Year of College

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten since I went to college came from Brianne Borden, and it was a simple one: set goals, no matter how far away they may seem, and keep track of them by time period. One of the first things I did my senior year of undergrad was break down a bunch of goals for the semester, the year, the next five years, and the next decade—and it really helped me maintain my focus during a hectic fall semester of grad school applications and recital planning.

This time around, I’m entering the second year of my master’s and what I somewhat hope is my final year of being a student (in academia, anyway). As I started making my goals lists, I decided I’d try to hold myself a little more accountable than otherwise and share some of them with all of you.

This semester, I’d like to cultivate things I tend to call “practical skills” but are really just on the business side instead of the music side. I want to work on understanding HTML and using my powers *mostly* for good, and I want to get some arts admin experience so I’ll be qualified for those types of jobs once I graduate. I want to spend more time on my horn than I’ve been able to over the past year, and I need to continue to work on minimizing tension in my playing and everyday life so the TMJ that’s followed me around for two years gets more manageable. I desperately want to put together the show that’s been eluding me for so long—a coherent, if disjointed, look into the life of someone who has been changed by their sexual assault. I want to get more comfortable being uncomfortable. I’m looking forward to TAing again and continuing to hone my teaching voice.

This year, I want to break my work out of academia. As much as I love school-sponsored events, I’ve always aimed for a career that stretches beyond colleges and universities. I want to perform—my own work and others’, just like always—in LA, in Arizona, in NorCal, and wherever else will host me. I want to audition for festivals and travel with my work. I’d love to find a day job (or two) that’s fulfilling and rewarding, because I know a freelance career is one built gradually. I hope to take more time to spend with my loved ones; I’ve been letting school consume me for too long, and now that I’m in LA full time, I’d like to take the opportunity to see my family a little more often. I want to continue to collaborate with others working to further the sexual assault discussion in a musical setting. I want to say no more often to the things I don’t need anymore—writing brass music for someone solely because they think it’d be good practice for me, letting other people talk about my work as if they understand it better than I do, allowing others’ expectations to get in the way of what I want to do. And at the end of the day, I’d like to have some time to relax with my partner and do the nonmusical things I love: diving into Netflix, working on my book, hitting the driving range, riding roller coasters, and going on adventures. (Oh, and I want very badly to go to Disneyland, but that’s a whole other story.)

My five-year goals are still a little mushy and incoherent, so for now those will stay in my journal, but my path for the last year of my masters is clearer than I’ve ever expected. What are you reaching for this year? Sound off! ♦

Thanks for reading! If you’d like more analysis and commentary like this in your life, come back every Saturday at 8pm. To follow my ramblings and creative process in real time, or to support the work I do as an artist and advocate, you can find me on Patreon and @ordinarilymeg on Instagram.