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As infants, we all start out incompetent, non-viable living beings. Why do we have to grow up so slowly? Even in college, almost all of our days are controlled by others, mostly adults, but sometimes even by our peers. Which groups hold us back and what can we do to grow up… ourselves?

Music is a relationship. Sometimes we’re faced with hard decisions regarding our relationships. These decisions are presented to us as if each side is the most important. After all, how do you choose between obligations and desires? Or obligations and other obligations? Who wins and how often? There’s no formula to solve this problem. You end up choosing one way and alienating or aggravating the other. What then follows is a series of days, weeks, months, or years where we aren’t the ones in control of our lives, but we instead bend over backward to try and appease all sides, ultimately failing to make anyone happy.  What’s all this got to do with your music?

It’s about how you balance school, family, friends, and organizations? There isn’t one answer to this question. But each person MUST explore the relationships between themselves and each of these facets to gain or regain control of one’s activities and aspirations. Once you can understand your relationship with each of these components, you can prioritize and strengthen the relationships so that when you need to make a difficult decision, there’s understanding on the other end.

Microphone IconAll this made for long days, but every component was satisfied because I learned how to budget time and make personal sacrifices, not relational sacrifices.

My sophomore year of college was arguably the busiest and most stressful time that I had at UT. I was taking an average of 17 hours of classes; I was spending every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evening at marching band rehearsals, then spending all day Saturday at the games; I was pledging a fraternity, meeting several nights a week to rehearse 4-part fraternity songs; I was waking up at 6am on Sunday morning to hitch a ride with a friend to rehearse with my church band for the 10am service; I was struggling with unsolvable family issues, and to top it off, I was in a relationship. Looking back, I’m amazed that I ever got sleep (though there were definitely nights that were more like naps). But the reason that I got through that year successfully was because I understood the relationships I had within each component. I knew how much time I needed to spend on homework, how to budget time around rehearsals, how to be prepared for fraternity meetings, how to coordinate with my church band, and how to keep my girlfriend happy. And none of these experiences had to be cheapened just because I was busy with other things. All this made for long days, but every component was satisfied because I learned how to budget time and make personal sacrifices, not relational sacrifices.

A typical Tuesday meant waking up at 8am, going to class until 4pm, doing homework until 6pm, rehearsing until 8pm, going to meetings until 11pm and constantly communicating with friends, family, and the girlfriend throughout the day to express that everything was important to me and no one was being forgotten.

So if there’s a conflict that comes up in your life, how do you decide which way to go? Do you show up unprepared for a rehearsal or meeting because you desperately needed that extra 30 minutes of sleep? Or do you skip the sleep and grab a coffee so that you can be ready to go when the meeting starts?

Sometimes the personal sacrifice you make is the greatest gift you can give a relationship. Just be sure to take care of yourself as well.  Your music will appreciate the effort.

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Nick Hager ()


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