When I first got out of high school, I told my parents I was going to become a professional musician. My mother who had started to show me how to play piano when I was still in diapers was overjoyed. My dad completely freaked out. So when they divorced, I felt like it was completely my fault.
Many of my friends thought it was really encouraging at the time to say things like “good for you! “ or “what else are you going to do? “ I knew I had no choice – because I had a complete mental and physical addiction to playing the piano, and so I felt no shame in moving ahead.
All that was about 50 years ago. Since then, the entire town of Flint Michigan was laid off, and recently here in Canada we saw the end of Sears. This week Air Canada announced massive layoffs. As a musician who has been self-employed and self-taught especially in business-I have navigated survival by adapting to the changing times my entire life. When DJs threatened live bands I turned to theatre and reinvented myself.
When money became an issue, I expanded into producing original music for radio and television and built a studio in my basement. When production funding took a hit on a national scale, I added teaching music to the mix.
One clever lady in Flint learned how to make money by selling rabbits from her front lawn. I have often felt like her. And as the mindset of a company like Woodwards or Eatons take care has slowly disappeared, more and more people have come to me. “Good for you!” is gone. For some this has become fear, but others have learned how to adapt.
It’s amazing what you can do when you have no other choices. If you’re reading this and you just lost your job I hope you find it encouraging do you know that there is no shame in being self-employed. In fact, it can bring you confidence, security, and a feeling of independence that I would never trade for whatever benefit package I might’ve received had I taken another path.
Take heart – Good things often come to those who persevere and are willing to work hard.
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