When we dedicate ourselves and our careers to our passions, sometimes they become less of a joy and more of a burden; especially in the creative fields.
There have been nights where my body has tensed up and my hands have cramped and shook from the anxieties and pressures I have self-inflicted derived from the expectations I set for myself; the expectations of what I feel I should produce. When something as organic as songwriting becomes your intentional career path, it becomes a responsibility rather than a hobby. Of course, I would have never of ventured down this path in the first place if I thought my love for the craft was going to quiver and diminish with hardship, but I didn't realize when you place something at the center of your universe, it can really change your perception of it.
"I'm not good enough."
"This song isn't commercial"
"This song isn't good, at all."
"This doesn't reflect me."
"I can't write prolifically, what's wrong with me?"
"I'll never make it as a writer if I can't produce."
Once, a creative outlet for my expression had become a chore; something I felt obligated to do rather than called to.
This summer I chose to stay in Nashville in order to hone in on my craft as a musician, music business "young professional," and grab a taste of freedom off-campus and alone. I didn't approach the summer with the intention to find myself, but I feel sometimes you need to let yourself find you. I was lonely, depressed, anxious, and homesick; most of my friends left for the summer and the few who stayed either wallowed in my self-pity as well or had lived there their entire lives and of course had other obligations besides entertaining their friend. The only thing which was constantly around me was work. I set goals for myself to write all summer, and the reality is I wrote one song ALL SUMMER. This is when I realized songwriting isn't only a passion, but it's become work, and therefore, I need to find another hobby to counteract the negatives from this shift. Change is hard, and I'm not saying songwriting is a negative thing for me by any means, but now I just need to approach it differently. I needed another creative outlet where it was simply for expression; something without expectation, so I could return to songwriting with a clear head. So, I began to paint.
The shift from verbal expression to image-based reflection was interesting, and I didn't even realize I was healing at first. I began to paint prolifically, every time I picked up a pallet it was a catharsis and I couldn't figure out why; until one day it clicked. I felt like this with music before I decided to dedicate my adult life to music; it was easy. I wasn't painting in hopes of sales, or to be noticed and discovered, heck it not even to please others. It was only for me, and I played mindless music while I wrote. As soon as I got in the rhythm of letting myself be a mindless creative again, my creativity with my writing flowed once again. It is so important to have an outlet without expectations. The weekend after I crafted four paintings, I felt like myself again. I was okay with this shift from hobby to lifestyle with my writing and realized it was simply a matter of keeping a balance. And ultimately it gave me some insight to the rest of my day-to-day and how everything needs a balance, and it's ok if things aren't what you expect them to be. Learning change is inevitable, but understanding it's okay is key. And with my music, it may be more than a hobby now, but at least I know how to handle it. Learn to channel ALL of your creative energy.