The Breaking Point
Most of you who read my blog are either friends of mine, or people who have become friends of mine through approaching me with messages about your experiences in relation to what I've written so far. A couple months ago I made some kind of subconscious commitment to approach my blog from a place of honesty and openness. Sometimes it's been really scary, or sometimes it's been very empowering when I feel like I can reach a couple of people with my stories and motivate them in some way. Sometimes I go on a first date with a guy and he tells me he has read my blog or watched my vlogs and that slightly saddens me because now he's read multiple chapters of me before we could mutually learn one another. But I guess that's what happens when you write your stories for all to see.
I can honestly say in the last three months, to date, I have learned more than I have learned in my whole life. I have not had big questions answered, but instead had big questions raised. There's no way to sum up all the life lessons and experiences in a single post, so I will treat this one as the prologue to the stories (that will either bore you or move you).
I'll start by saying that right now I'm sitting at my desk in Brooklyn. It's 5 pm, and I'm listening to a pop punk playlist from the 90s. My entire apartment is spotless. I can feel a fan blowing cool air on my shoulders and I have sunlight streaming into my room. I'm drinking a Bloody Mary and I'm not wearing a bra or shoes. I'm relaxed. This is the first time, ever, that I'm writing you a post from my desk, in the daylight, in all these conditions, and so wide awake.
For the last six months I have been working in the film industry. A lot of people know that my thing is that I'm a musician, but few understand more specifically what my current job is. I'm a composer, and my work ranges from original scores for films, commercials, and live dance, to me acting as an assistant composer to scores for feature films and many television series. I also sing and play various instruments on all these works, and do orchestral mock-ups. I generally work seven days a week on my craft, and a day off is usually spent sleeping all the sleep and eating all the food - recovery.
I blindly boarded a fast-moving train half a year ago, and I never got off... until yesterday. I had felt myself move further and further away from the world and off into some parallel universe where I stopped being able to relate to most people as I became immersed in my journey.
I became so fixated on making art, and the incredible opportunities that I felt lucky to have right in front of me, that I allowed everything else to fall at the wayside. The first was my sleep schedule, the next was my friendships, my family, then my boyfriend, and then my health. I know for a lot of artists we unfortunately don't see the blaring red flags until we're lying in a hospital bed or we're in rehab - I don't want to end up in either again.
Long, sappy story made short; I reached a breaking point. I've never had a breaking point in my career before. I woke up one morning, not too long ago, and I couldn't imagine getting out of bed and walking the two blocks to the subway. I'd been sleeping about 2 hours a night for two weeks, if at all, and I'd stopped eating full meals because my stomach was in pain from what I can only imagine was stress. My limbs felt like jelly, and the final straw was the pain I was experiencing in my wrists for about two weeks. That morning, all I could think about was sleeping and could hardly lift my arms to turn off my alarm. You know when you wake up in the morning for class and you think "man I would do anything to just keep sleeping"? Well, I thought that, and this time it was so real. I felt myself stop functioning. I contacted those who relied on me and told them what was happening to me in the clearest, most objective way possible. I told them I was breaking, that I was falling apart.
It feels like I've been gone on a trip for six months. Where did my friends go? Why does everyone have girlfriends? Who are these girls they're so in love with? Where are my roommates? I didn't even say goodbye when they left. Where is my best friend? She went back home to Cali and I missed her party. Where is my bassist? He moved out of New York. I didn't even say goodbye. Where in the world is my dad? He called me and told me he's on his yacht... but where is he traveling? I don't remember. It's all a blur. My lease is up this month... where am I going to live? I haven't thought about that. I don't have a clean shirt to wear. I haven't used my kitchen in over a month. My curtains are duct-taped to my windows. It looks like hell in here. I'm in a nightmare.
Today is the second day I'm now spending time with friends who I've known since I was 7-years old. True, life-long friends, and we are reminiscing about how many years it's been since we saw each other. Somehow, our friendships had survived, while some others, I'm sad to say, did not. And neither did my relationship, and it will probably never grow into a friendship either. I then realized that my exhaustion wasn't a result of the last six months, it was a result of the last six years. In the last six years I've gotten a degree, I've toured with three major bands all over the world, I've released multiple albums and written multiple scores... but... where did the rest of my life go? I'm not sure. That's what I'm here to find out. It's like coming up for air from some sort of coma. Neglect is the word that comes to mind, and I'm just trying to stop that from turning into regret.
What is balance and how can we achieve it?
What is happiness and what is success? Do they go hand in hand? I always thought they did, now I don't think they always do (and trying to explain that to someone who is watching you willingly suffer in the name of "the dream" is no easy task).
Do artists have to be martyrs for their work? No, I don't think so and I think this is an unfair stereotype that has been placed on a lot good, open, hard-working people. We all deserve love and connection. I don't want to buy into this "well, you chose a difficult path" crap any longer.
Everyone deserves a good quality of life. How can we work together towards this universal direction?
In order to achieve the above, many risks need to be taken. Many uncomfortable conversations need to be had. I for one need to grow-up, I need to be assertive, and I even need to unlearn some of my cultural tendencies - things like caving under the demands of those older than me or not speaking up about what I want.
Learn to protect yourself and believe in your contribution to the world. Go out there with a vengeance, and take a stand for what you believe is right.
"Stop this train I want to get off and go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can't
But honestly won't someone stop this train"
I've been singing these lyrics by John Mayer for years and never did they mean as much to me as they do today. So that's it, I'm stopping the train, if only for a brief moment to recenter and not hurt myself any longer. I hope when I get back on that I won't travel too far away until I come back to visit, before leaving again, back and forth. That is the cycle. I hope more people will join me on the train and watch the scenery with me, and laugh with me at the madness of it all. That's why I'm here, writing to you.
Many life lessons to follow soon.
From the self-help punk,