It’s Not Linear
One day when I was chatting (more like complaining) to a mentor of mine, he told me that I couldn’t expect my career and life to be linear. In 2014 I’d had my first success in terms of what I wanted to do with music, and I guess I’d had this naive idea in my head that once I’d accomplished something cool that it would be smooth sailing from there. What followed was more of a crooked, ever-winding crackhead drawing of a line that went on and off the page. At the top was my life making sense and me buying rounds of drinks for my friends and going swimming in lakes in upstate New York, at the bottom was me crippled by anxiety of the unknown, crying over Cheetos and vodka while I watched all of King of the Hill for the 4th time. I wish I was joking.
What I want to show in this post is that almost nothing in life is constant, and that that’s okay. I mean let’s face it, I went into music as my career so to a certain extent I had accepted things to be crazy. But even when things have gone so amazingly well, I still find myself at my lowest lows thinking “why did I do this? Am I a disappointment to my family? Is what I’m doing worth a shit? Am I selfish?” I guess I want to say that all these thoughts are real and always creep in, no matter how much I accomplish or don’t accomplish. That seems to be human nature, and I know a lot of us young adults deal with these mental obstacles frequently.
I seem to once again be in a position of “gambling”. I have no consistent job; I’m a free-lance composer and performer, and I’m investing all I have into a new business venture. When I look at the trajectory of the last three years and working for other people, I can see that I always quit when I was on top. This may sound totally crazy, but it has always been this very real feeling of “I’ve learned what I needed to learn and it’s gonna hurt so bad to let go, but it’s time for me to go”. And every time I’ve done this, I’ve done so with no other job lined up. I’m like really smart. But, what always follows is the most chaotic, beautiful “what is this life all about” break-down where at the end of the chaos I am somehow rebirthed into a more fully-formed human as I realized what I truly want. But only after a lot of Cheetos and vodka and complaining to my friends.
For the record, I am that weird person googling “how to quit my job” or “how to tell my boss I quit”, and every time I would read an advice column, it would advise me to line up another job before doing this. The fact is, as a self-employed musician, there aren’t many articles or advice columns dedicated to what to do in our situation. I want to work for myself; I want to be my own boss and lead a team, I want to make my own hours and take vacations one day. I will pay taxes out the butt and private health insurance premiums to by eye-balls, but what I’m not willing to do is work for someone else for the rest of my life. So where do I fit in in the scheme of jumping from job to job? I’m not sure, but this post serves as speculation. Do you play it safe? Do you trust your gut and take a risk? If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried to map out the next three years of your life and how you will methodically achieve your dreams. You have little checkboxes every year and by 28 you’re married and by 30 you have a kid and by 36 a house in The Hamptons. I’m 26, very much unmarried, and can barely pay my rent. So far, I have strayed from the course, but I ended up somewhere else quite wonderful. I wouldn’t trade it for my hypothetically planned-out life any day.
I’ve written a lot of songs in the past year about not having a safety net. They’re mostly about the anxiety of taking a dive and not knowing where I’ll end up, so it’s very clear that I am fearful. I hate admitting this to anyone, but I am a fucking human and I am fearful. The question is whether or not the fear will prevent me from going for what I want, and so far, it hasn’t. It tries to get at me late at night when I lie down in bed alone in the dark. It tells me that I’m stupid and when last did I read a book and what makes me think I’m so special that I shouldn’t lead a more normal life. It tells me that my life will always be this way and that I’ll never have nice things. The next morning I tell this fearful bitchass voice in my head to shut the fuck up because I do have nice things. I have great friends and a supportive family. I have a lot to be thankful for, and you know what, there are bigger things in life than constantly wondering if you’re going to be the song that comes on in CVS while you’re shopping for tampons or if your piece of music will be in the next bullshit-whatever Hollywood movie or if you’ll play on The Today Show this year.
There literally are bigger things, like love and people. So without getting too hippy-dippy here, I just wanna roll with this train of thought and say that today I realized I need to chill out. I choose to relax and trust fall into what I want to do. Treat your peers with love and respect, be there for people and they will be there for you, and have a little rainy day fund for just in case you need it when it’s a really fucking rainy shithole of a day. You know what else I realized? Just laugh at the situation. Laugh at yourself. It’s not all so serious. Our world revolves around us so it may seem very serious, but it’s not really that serious. Go make art, work your hardest you’ve ever worked at anything, and enjoy the successes as well as the surprises. And I’ll try to not watch King of the Hill for the 5th time.
Wishing you all the best,