In college I read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. What impressed me most was this quote:
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
― The Bell Jar
I read it and reread it and thought to myself, this is the worst kind of danger, one I’m deep in right now. I considered studying biology to become a geneticist, and psychology like my father had done, and also music. But of all the options, I decided on English with a creative writing focus. And occasionally I wondered if I’d made the wrong choice, but then I’d bat that thought away. I chose it, and due to that alone, it was right (at least in this case). As I’d hear and read about opportunities for clubs and study abroad and seminars and meetings and concerts and volunteering I’d fancifully think of and then choose none of them. Part of this was picturing barriers that may not have been as large as I thought, but a lot of it was simple indecision.
The further I got in school, the more I realized I needed to just pick and try things. And I did. I auditioned for and joined a women’s choir (the first choir outside of church I’d ever sung in), took two dance classes, and did a service-learning internship at the Boys and Girls Club, where I figured out how to teach piano to kids who struggled to pay attention and didn’t have an instrument to practice on at home.
When I was in my senior year and afraid of not knowing what I wanted to do when I graduated, I met with a career counselor several times, who looked at options with me and one day offhandedly remarked that if I ever wanted to be crazy I could try Teach for America or the Peace Corps. I laughed, thinking in no way was I cut out for something like that, then a few months later decided to move to China to teach English. Ha.
Choosing can be difficult and searching and researching options for your next venture in life can leave you unsure, confused, overwhelmed, anxious, or even paralyzed. But taking a step forward helps determine the way much better than hiding your head between your knees. Every choice I’ve made and loved started out with discovery. Once I’d made the choice, I was in, and at some point it was like I was moving along to my own soundtrack. You know, like the way you might feel if one day you were told your life was one big crazy musical.
“Wait, have those violins been playing in the background all along?” you’d ask.
“Yep, you just didn’t see them hiding in those bushes,” would come the reply.
“And the trumpets??”
“They’ve been following you around since you were born you know.”
So if you haven’t found your song yet, this poem is for you:
Searching for my song
by Aubri Wilson
I'm searching for my song
Still straining to hear
Waiting for the one I feel
Undeniably in my veins and bones
The song of right now
Which touches my senses
Nearly like déjà vu
And yet melodies seemingly familiar
May almost, but not quite do the trick
I’m searching for my song
Wondering if I missed it
While not being open to listen
Hearing words but assigning
To them the wrong notes
Maybe I can try again
If I close my eyes and reflect
Maybe it’s true that a few sweet notes
In duples or triples at a time
Or even one by one
Dilatorily crawling along
Can tell me if it’s my song
That I’ll love
With a beautiful line
Note by note by note
All the way through
If there’s silence
Maybe there are just
A few more measures of rest
To wait through
So if I’m searching for my song still
I believe I’ll find my song soon