Small Victories

Sometimes we get impatient and we want everything right now. We want it all to go our way and for it to always be perfect. We want to be famous and wealthy and make our high school bullies jealous when we throw it in their faces that we’re successful artists and they’re still working at the local pizza place. But if you step out of your crazy, egotistical dream-world for a second (I'm a Leo, so I need a reality check often), you’re sometimes able to have a glimpse of the truth, which for most of us on our way up is that we’re making strides but that we don’t have it all (yet). And sometimes we’re even able to let this thing called patience wash over us as we’re able to pat ourselves on the back for those milestones we have hit and remember to just enjoy the moment.

There’s been a lot of talk around me lately about depression and how it affects our art. All sorts of kinds, how it’s affecting a lot of us trying to create, and how it’s distorting the way we see ourselves and our pursuit. I haven’t felt deeply sad in a long time, but I knew in the last few weeks what it meant to feel a bit lost and unsure about how each day was going to unfold and where my career was going to go (or not go). There’s something strange aligning in the universe because a lot of my close loved ones are dealing with a similar sentiment. I couldn’t talk about this blog post topic without touching on the emotional distress caused by the self-doubt that sometimes eats us alive. I think I found one way to tame the doubts and I wanted to share it with you.

I recently wrote a post called The Thing That Keeps You Going. The thing that keeps you going is the thing that makes you get up in the morning and work towards something bigger than yourself. This post takes that one step further - how do we believe in the cause and that we’re actually getting closer to our dream? Sometimes it’s really hard to see the progress. What I’ve experienced in the last few months since moving back to New York and pursuing my solo music is that you have to set up small goals so that the bigger goal seems attainable. Now I know I’m probably telling you something you’ve heard a million times but I can’t stress the importance of this enough. I wanted to outline in this post some small goals I recently pursued that have lead to small, but very significant victories, which in essence have kept me focused, away from the sad, and moving closer towards my big goals as an artist.

When I was off tour and back home in New York, I first decided that I would release content every week, usually on a Monday. I picked my blog and YouTube channel back up, and I drew up a plan in my iCal spanning several months to alternate between videos and blog posts. People now, remember to set up realistic goals. So often I’ve thought ‘I’m going to release a Youtube video every WEEK and it's gone be so AWESOME’ and I make it through about 2 weeks and then I can’t meet the goal and then I feel shitty about myself. If you set up reasonable goals that you’re able to achieve and stick with, then you feel good about it and proud that you met your quota.

Another thing I decided was that I would set up my own show in Brooklyn. I’ve never booked my own show. I’ve always been in bands that got asked to play or had booking agents or a manger who did it. Now I’m back here, with no manager and no booking agent, and I don’t even a band. But hey, fuck it, I have songs I’ve written and believe in and I can play guitar and I can sing and I can write some emails and hit up some other bands so why the hell not book my own show? I booked a show at Muchmore’s in Brooklyn and I opened the night with 4 songs. I got to share the stage with some of my best friends as well as my boyfriend and we brought in quite a few people and had a great night. Then we drank margaritas and ate Mexican food. Again, a great night. The next day I felt proud that I did it. It had been almost a year to the day since I played a solo show and I had now accomplished something very significant to my goals as a front person and solo artist. After I realized I could do this playing live thing, I started getting booked on some more shows and kept the ball rolling. People also reached out who had watched the live stream and it all made me feel accomplished and like an actual artist, as opposed to someone who just drank whiskey and sang songs alone in my room late at night.

This is what I’m trying to touch on; when I actively pursue my craft and I can see the results, whether those results are big or small, I start to feel more like an artist. All of our inspired ideas come from a very clear and pure feeling. When each of us committed to this crazy dream of making art for a living, we really believed that we could do it successfully. We’d day-dream about being on stage or being in a movie or writing music for a movie and we really could envision ourselves doing it. So take the steps towards that, every day, and feel yourself in your essence when you are on stage or recording a song. A great way to also feel that you are within your art is to share it with an audience because they react and you get this very unique connection with other people. If I had stuck to the initial idea that I shouldn’t play a show because I haven’t released music yet, then I still would have been sitting in my room feeling so teeny tiny for many months longer. I wouldn’t have taken that important step in playing live in front of my peers and developing my performance skills. I showed myself as much as I showed my audience what I am capable of right now.

The only way to avoid stagnation is to be pro-active about the things you want. And I’ve said this before, but when you do this, the world responds and helps you along and that’s when incredible things start to happen. If you’re an artist and you’re working on a dream, I advise you to set up weekly or monthly goals and to stick to them best you can. Whether you feel crappy or scared or stressed or overwhelmed - just do it. We’re all scared and stressed! Not that this is usually the case, but today I’m writing this post one hour before it comes out because my brain space has been so taken up by things outside of this blog and the world of music. But what matters is that I’m still writing it and I believe in the words I’m writing. Maybe there will be some typos or run-on sentences, but that’s okay! Who gives a shit!

The best phrase that comes to mind to end this post is “everything in motion”. Which is a Guided by Voices Song. Which is the band my boyfriend is obsessed with, so I give him full credit for this blog post ending. Keep everything in motion.

xoxo

Sulene