I’m on the plane from Philadelphia to Rochester. It’s a tiny plane. I’m listening to the acoustic version of Aurora’s Cure For Me on repeat. I’m turning over everything in my mind, over and over, jaw clenched, vigilant. Should I not have posted stuff that meant so much to me, in such a raw form? Do I really want to make my thoughts public in this way if I can’t deal with push-back? Then, mixed up in all these questions is the eternal one: what do I live for?
Before the plane took off, I tried listening to an interview with Brittany Howard. But I started grinding my teeth with such intensity that I had to stop 20 minutes in. My heart was racing, and I felt my chest tightening, pushing me forward into an unknown space. I felt so much pressure to be AS GOOD AS HER. I don’t wake up every morning living for music. How can I be as pure of an artist as Brittany Howard? How can I be as sure as she is? Is there something wrong with me? There must be something wrong with me. I’ll never make it. I shouldn’t even be doing music.
The astounding thing is that I reached this conclusion so quickly. I went from being inspired by a fellow artist to imposing judgements on myself as a musician in just a few minutes. This type of self-doubt happens every week or so. It never stays for long, but it often stops by to visit.
The hard facts are that Brittany Howard is a seasoned musician in her 40s, and I’m an up-and-coming artist in my 20s. I’m on my own path. If tonight I couldn’t handle listening to a musician talk about her process without seizing up, that’s okay. It’s just how it is tonight. I’m okay with turning off the interview for now. But comparing myself so intensely to other people is not something I want to continue in the long run. I want to celebrate each artist’s journey, and celebrate mine. Separately. I want to be inspired and influenced by other artists. I want to honor them. Without simultaneous judgement on myself. Without making it about me.
Back to the questions I’ve been contemplating: I do often feel as if I’ve revealed too much in this blog. Like I’ve removed my turtle shell, and now I’m walking around without it. In my quest to be honest, I may have compromised my own feelings of safety and security. It’s a tough line to find. But I’m glad I’ve challenged myself to find it. In the process, I’ve learned so much. It has given me a chance to fumble around in the dark for myself and find my core, even when that core was being compromised.
You can see that in these last few days of daily writing, I’m thinking more big picture. Here are a few truths:
-I want to tell people less. I want to reveal myself only as I’m ready to, to people that I trust to hold my truth. I want to be a graceful woman.
-I’m ready to get back into songwriting again as a serious pursuit of self-expression.
-For awhile, I was afraid of writing a new song because I was afraid it might be bad. What a classic way to stop yourself before you even start. Being afraid to fail.
-I just want people to hear me and understand me. Enough of this bullshit of wanting “connection through music” or whatever the hell I keep saying in all my shiny marketing tactics. I just want to be understood. As Odetta sings “I gotta be me, baby, hit or miss.”
I haven’t managed, in this month of writing, to answer the question of what I live for. I’ll be answering it for my whole life. I hope that’s okay. I can’t wait to get back to my partner, my house, my routines, my live shows, and my sweet sweet sweet cats.