Finishing the Hat

I started this blog when I moved to New York City in 2014. I planned to share my journey with my friends and family back home. I’ve spent most of my life on the Big Island. Even after college, I spent years building quite a reputation and community there as a performer, music director, and musician. I had only written a handful of posts, and my posts changed after I got my first job. I was facing psychological stresses on a scale I wasn’t used to. Inadequacy, uncertainty, imperfection. I’ve since grown and developed quite a bit, as a performer as well as a person. Time away has given me perspective. I started meditating in early 2015, and started reading books that tackle hugely vital topics like self-awareness and detachment. Things that are essential as human beings, and even more so for performers.

Choosing to make a career out of performing is not easy. It was a far cry from having a reputation in a small community, where I could almost count on working with people who know me and my skills. At the least, people who had seen my work firsthand. But in the city, I was starting with no reputation in a highly competitive atmosphere. I was faced with comparison and judgment every day. I started to feel less special… less unique.

I had been keeping an audition log, taking notes in the hopes of growing as quickly as I could. I had started this career so much later than those around me. Even when I got work, I couldn’t help feeling as if I were behind. I was getting lost in the negative gap between where I thought I was and where I thought I should be. And in those moments the path ahead can seem so long, and your destination can seem so far away.

But I really do believe that even when we are in that place it still doesn’t take much to spin things into a positive perspective. We can adjust our mindset. Comparison fades away when we remember that we ARE unique. We can focus on the fact that comparing myself to someone else is like comparing apples to oranges. And we can look at the road we are on from the perspective of how far we have come… We can look at how much we have gained in our journey.

I will continue to write about my personal experiences, but I also want to write about all the facets of this career. Skillset as well as mental health. I will share books, tools, and techniques that have been useful to me not only in this career but as a human being. We all have the potential to become our best selves. We all have the potential to create. As Sondheim wrote, we can focus on “Finishing the Hat” until we can ultimately say, “Look, I made a hat where there never was a hat.”

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Pedro Kaʻawaloa
Pedro Kaʻawaloa

Pedro Kaʻawaloa has a BA in Music from Harvard University. He is a professional performer and music director, as well as a choir conductor, pianist, musician, teacher, and composer. Pedro is also a fitness and mindfulness enthusiast.

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