I have officially graduated from University. That marks 18 years of education, thousands of dollars invested in intellectual and personal growth. I reached a milestone that no one in my family has accomplished. Pretty cool, huh? I am now a graduate of Macquarie University and completed a BA with a double major in ‘Arts, Management and Industries’, and ‘Music’.
People keep asking how I feel. Honestly - it feels surreal. I’ve been working for years, knowing and abiding by a certain level of structure in my life - understanding that the proceeding year there is a process to be followed - knowing that there is a class to attend, books and essays to be read and studied, assessments to be submitted and assessed. I don’t think it has fully sunk in that I no longer follow that routine. My brother is already back at university classes and it almost feels as if I’m just on a little break before I return to classes myself. At one of my performances, discussing this though with my friend, she stated that it took a whole year to feel like she was finally out of university - that is was finally a habit broken.
I believe it certainly helped that I completed most of my degree part-time, while the other half I was creating and performing music. And while I am grateful to have finished that chapter in life, I’m not done with learning. I constantly strive to grow, improve, learn more, seek more understanding. I just won’t be attending a class at a university for a little while.
Amidst performances around the country, I travelled to Paris in my second year where I released my single “Just Smile” at the launch of World Kindness France. I also travelled to the USA in my final year at university - a year where I decided to complete my degree full time (which meant more course work then I had ever done before). In the final month, I took a week and travelled to the Pacific Islands on the Carnival Spirit again performing as a Piano Bar Entertainer.
People have asked me how I did it. How did I complete university while travelling the world and pursuing music?
To be honest, with a lot of help, amazing timing and hard work.
I feel I could write pages and pages of how grateful I am to have my family - it’s almost as if the more I keep writing it, the more it shows how truly grateful I am. Countless times I lent on them for support and guidance, even their license to drive me to university because I needed to use the extra time in the car to complete an assignment before submitting the work that very day.
I can also thank sheer luck in timing for these opportunities. Timing in my second year meant that I was away between the end of the first semester and beginning of the second to travel to Paris for two weeks. In 2017, I had auditioned and was offered the opportunity to travel around the world and perform as a Piano Bar Entertainer with Carnival Cruise Lines. The company offered me a contract of two months that, similar to my previous adventure, fell right in between my semester breaks. So I finished my first semester early - which inadvertently meant 8 assignments at once, something I am grateful not to repeat again- and returning from the States late into my second and final semester. It took a lot of hard work (and long nights) of study and tapping away at my computer. But that was how I was able to do it all!
So after 5 years of tertiary education, I have come away with a little bit of knowledge. Admittedly, quite a lot of knowledge about music and the business of music…also, one semesters information about statistics.
But I have taken away more than just what is taught in a classroom and I wanted to share some of these thoughts with you.
1. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants. I am not perfect. I could not be where I am today without the people who supported me, who helped me to grow and learn from my many mistakes - my teachers, fellow classmates, family and friends. I may have physically stood alone on stage to accept the award from the Vice Chancellor of the University, but I am far from alone. My mother, father, brother, friends, family, even you stand there with me. The people that stood by my side along the way. Believed in me, listened to my music, heard a bit of my story - I am able to do what I love everyday because people believe in me. I chose to learn about music and the business of this industry so that I could grow and become better at what I love doing. You are part of what helps to make this dream a reality.
2. Learning is an active choice. You could sit in a classroom and pay attention all day, or you could cram the study notes in your head the night before the exam. You could sit at the table drinking tea talking to a stranger across the table and you don’t even have to attend a class. At all moments in life, we are making choices. As humans, we grow and adapt. Learning is about enhancing ourselves for tomorrow so that we are better prepared for our path in life. So we choose to grow and learn. University is a place where we have made an active choice to learn and grow - we don’t have to be there unlike our time in primary school where it is a requirement (in my country at least) to be educated. However, sometimes, I look around and see students that are attending because it is an expectation in their family. I saw people fail courses because they didn’t want to attend for some rationalisation or another. University was just another step they were expected to follow. For me, I made an active choice to be at university. I don’t need a degree to continue to do what I love - you don’t have to have that piece of paper to perform. I chose to attend university - I chose to pay people to teach me more music and the arts. I chose to spend years walking into the same building and discovering a new piece of history or a differing perspective so that I may be better equiped for my path. To be aware of this choice made it easier to spend the nights writing essays. And it is a life lesson that I have taken with me outside of the university grounds. We are all capable of making choices and choosing how we spend our days. We can choose to be angry, upset or frustrated, or we could choose to look on the positive side of life. We could choose to spend our days doing nothing, being unhappy that we didn’t take risks and follow our hearts or we could choose to chase dreams and create opportunities and find ways to help be a part of and improve the world. We make active choices everyday.
3. Learning doesn’t stop. Just because I have now gotten the piece of paper that implies I am educated to a certain standard, doesn’t mean my learning stops. I’m excited that this chapter of life has ended, but I am eager to keep growing and learning about music, the arts, this industry, myself and my place in this industry, everyday. Learning doesn’t just happen in a room with a teacher in front of it.
Among all of my newfound knowledge of Music and Arts, Management and Industries, that is what I take away with me from my time at Macquarie University.
So…how did I celebrate? The people I wanted to celebrate this milestone with is you. The friends who have supported me, helped me to grow and reach this milestone just by being here. I celebrated with sharing photos, chatting with the friends that couldn’t be present (I was only allowed three guests in the room!) and by writing this - sharing my knowledge.
For me, I didn’t need a big fancy party to celebrate. Just you and the people who have been there from the very beginning - my family. Eating pizza (which I haven’t had in THREE MONTHS) talking about my latest adventures over in the United States. Those stories I’ll share soon…so stay tuned….
Thank-you. Thank-you for coming along this journey with me. Sharing in all the highs and progressions of my life, celebrating in these amazing moments. Thank-you for supporting me every step of the way. You are incredible. You are worth more to me than you possibly know.
I hope you have a wonderful Easter with loved ones.
Love, ♡ xx