Meet Monica Yunus. She is a multi-careerist based in the US. She’s a friend, and we’ve known each other for years. We even wrote wrote a book together Legion of Peace: 20 Paths to Super Happiness and produced an album of music for children with the same title. She is a talented artist and tireless arts advocate. Insights from her fascinating journey:
- Co-Founder of Sing for Hope
- Arts Advocate
On her motivations for having many careers
There is so much to do in life, why focus on just one thing if you don’t have to?
I have found an outlet for the many facets of life as an artist, and I take great joy in applying my creativity in a variety of ways.
Advice to aspiring multi-careerists
Just dive in.
There is never going to be a manual for how you balance all of it — much like parenting doesn’t come with a step by step guide.
You just have to rely on your instincts and your passion to guide you. A great mentor and a community of like minded people is also incredibly helpful!
On overcoming obstacles
The “not-knowingness” was at times crippling. When you create something from nothing, it’s always going to be a challenge until there is outside acknowledgement. The speed at which I fail quickly and move on has gotten faster. At this point, failure doesn’t bother me as much – it just shows me that I am trying something new and it doesn’t always work out.
On how multiple careers are beneficial
Sing for Hope’s mission is to create a better world through the arts. Performing on unconventional stages like in a hospital room, or a park or other public space has reignited my creative spark time and time again. Being a musician feeds all of the other career threads.
On personal time
Family is a priority so I plan holiday trips, special gatherings and just fit it in.
The further out I plan, the easier it is because it’s already in the calendar.
On what she wishes he had learned earlier
That there is no real answer for how to do it all at once.
I have made peace with the fact that some things will slip and that that’s ok.
On what to read
I actually read books that feed my creativity or particular subjects that I am interested in.
I am currently listening to Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search of Identity by Andrew Soloman.
On the stigma of having many careers
When we (Camille Zamora and I) co-founded Sing for Hope, there was definitely a lot of push back on why we were asking artists to be engaged in the community.
Now, after so many in the arts industry have suffered through the pandemic, I think more and more artists understand that pivoting or exploring other ways of using their artistry is vital not only to make a sustainable living but to keep the creative spark going.
On what to share with others
When I was first starting out in my career as an opera singer, I didn’t talk about Sing for Hope much for fear that I was seen as not taking my performing career ‘seriously’ enough. It’s not an issue now.
On sublimating ego
Because the pandemic took such a toll on artists and non profits, (97% of artists were unemployed or under employed according to Americans for the Arts and the industry has not yet bounced back) my energy was focused on ensuring the continued life of Sing for Hope and finding ways for artists to engage with community while being paid.
It’s only now that I am able to readjust and bring performance back into my own schedule which is exciting.
On what the future holds
What does the future hold for you?
I’m really looking forward to continuing to advocate for the multi-career portfolio for aspiring musicians.
We’re taught in music schools that if you don’t focus completely on your craft, then you won’t have a career. I do not believe that to be true.
Applying your skill set in a variety of ways is exciting and keeps your artistry sharp and evolving.
A Day in the Life
- 7 am – Wake up, get my son ready for school
- 8:15 – Drop off
- 8:30 – work out
- 9:30 – walk the dog
- 10 – check on morning emails, calls
- 1 pm grab lunch
- 3 pm – practice music
- 4 pm – more calls, meetings
- 5 pm – pick up my son from extended day
- 6 – dinner, family responsibilities
- 10 – bedtime
Where to find Monica