To be completely honest 2015 was a trying year. It’s exciting to launch into 2016, I’m sure it will be filled with many changes and adventures. Looking back briefly, here’s what I took away from an amazingly challenging year.
1) To ask for help.
Up until 2015 I would have argued that I know how to ask for help… like “could you please pick me up and give me a ride?” Or “could you make a dessert to go along with dinner?” Or “can I borrow your (fill in the blank)?” 2015 taught me a whole new level of asking for help, in a way where I can’t immediately balance out the favor or task that I’ve asked for… like, “Can you do a 9 hour photo shoot with multiple hair/make/location/outfit changes? Thaaaaaaaaaanks! Or, “can you help me move?” And by “move” I mean pack up all my stuff while I have a crippling nervous break down in the kitchen over giving up my beloved apartment. Yeah, it’s a whole new level. There is literally no way I could have made it through 2015 without asking for help. I would have crumbled trying to do it on my own. Asking for genuine help is a skill unto it’s own, and it’s a new muscle I’m learning to flex.
(Looking for help? This is just one of the fantastic images my friends helped me put together for my website.)
2) To accept said help that you just asked for.
As if it wasn’t hard enough to ask for help, real help, in 2015- apparently accepting it was even more difficult. The type of help I was asking for was the kind where I couldn’t immediately return the “favor”. It was far greater than I could wrap my brain around, times where saying “thank you” felt paltry and insignificant. It made me uncomfortable. I found myself not asking for certain things because I knew people would say yes, and then damn if I didn’t have to accept the help. I learned to ignore the tit for tat in my head and ask. That my community doesn’t see it that way, and in fact if anything they are sincerely happy to for the opportunity to help.
(It was a small space, but I loved it. Simply put, saying goodbye to my apartment broke my heart.)
3) It’s time to pour myself a cocktail and post up on the learning curve.
Life doesn’t seem to be getting easier. My decisions feel more significant. My relationships more serious. The risks I’m taking are greater. The stakes seem to get infinitely higher at every turn. It’s overwhelming. But I’m learning. Approximately a million times this last year I found myself chalking some learning experience up to the proverbial “learning curve”. Eventually I decided, not to be surprised or overwhelmed by these new situations, or constantly try to “pull myself out” of the cycle. Rather, to just pour myself a cocktail and post up on the learning curve. It’s all learning. Mistakes and missteps are inevitable. So I press on knowing that I exist within this continuum and to sip that cocktail as I enjoy the process.
(I mean, make sure that cocktail is a quality experience of course.)
4) My friends and family are what hold me together.
Maybe this came in part from having to ask for AND accept so much help in 2015, or maybe because these people were just ever present… but damn, my friends and family provided the strength I needed to navigate some formidable circumstances. They seemed to magically pop up at every occasion, in unexpected ways and frequently save the day. Whether it was places to stay, flight vouchers for last minute travel, legal advice, well timed calls/texts… over and over again, the list goes on. To spend time nurturing these connections is of utmost importance, and I cannot thank everyone enough.
(My friends, “Team Mean” helped me put together the epic photo shoot which produced the bulk of my website photos.)
5) Opera is for EVERYBODY. And it is my job as an opera singer to spread the word.
I love my art form and as I continue to strive for artistic excellence, my passion becomes more profound. I’ve seen my art form cross racial and socio-economic divides, heal wounds, mesmerize middle schoolers, delight, and change my life. It’s been incredible to see the music rise to the occasion every single time. Those who say “opera is dead” are myopic and have limited imaginations. It is our job as members of the opera world to ensure that we communicate, educate and promote our art form in accessible ways to as many people as possible at every turn.
(The crowds in the sweltering summer heat for Opera en la Calle 2015.)
With these lessons under my belt, I bid a formal adieu to 2015 and embrace 2016 with open arms. There will be challenges. There will be change. It will be uncertain at times. However I am better prepared for what’s to come. I have more tools now than ever to navigate these twists and turns. It’s time to armor up to the best of my abilities and take the proverbial bull by the horns!
Keep reading and listening,
Anishka (aka Nishi la Tremenda)