Missed Opportunities

"Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss." - F. Scott Fitzgerald Most of the time, I'm an advocate for taking chances, trying new things, and taking advantage of any good opportunity that comes my way.  I'm still early in my career and for the most part, any experience is good experience.

But sometimes, you have to say "no" to good great opportunities in favor of something else.

Last year, I had the chance to visit a private prep school in the area.  They have beautiful facilities and an excellent fine arts program.  Walking through the halls of their new music building, I overheard an open chamber music jury (playing Beethoven's Piano Trio, Op. 1, No. 3.  Hello.), a group lesson for string players, a theory class, and a few students rehearsing on their own in the practice rooms.  I would love the opportunity to teach here , I thought to myself.  I met one of the coordinators of the music program that day and she quickly put me in touch with the director.  He had my resume and I was hopeful that a part-time position would open up within a few months.

A year later, I received an email from the program director with these words: "We are anticipating some staffing needs for the next academic year and beyond..."  This was a GREAT opportunity - one I had been waiting for for a year now - but the timing was all wrong.  I had just committed to a PhD program at Eastman and was within two weeks of giving notice to my employers.  My heart sunk.  Why couldn't this have happened last year?  Of course, I am so, so excited about the work I will be doing at Eastman next year but I hated having to turn this down.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's said, "Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss."  Yes.  Reading these words made me rethink things.  Opportunities are turning points.  They define the path we take.  We say "yes" to some and "no" to others.  Instead of lamenting the "no's" we should feel like our "yes's" are clearer and more defined because of it.  Saying "no" to great opportunities gives us clarity for the things to which we've already said "yes."

What have you said "yes" to lately?