There are going to be some struggles. Even the best lives have some bumps and mistakes and doubts.
There are going to be some people, some you know and some you don’t who will take you out at the knees with their intentional and unintentional comments. They might or might not know what your triggers are, and they may think that their comments are for your own good.
That is possibly correct, there could be points where you are completely not making the right decisions for the situations you find your self in.
I’m not talking about those situations.
I’m talking about the way we get talked to and the way we talk to other people.
The way we feel judged and judge in return.
Some of it has to do with what success looks like, or maybe what we think success looks like. Really, it’s more like measuring our success through someone else’s eyes.
As a musician who still works a more than full time gig, I’ve been listening and hearing how people address me and other artists.
Here are a few I’ve heard lately:
It’s so great you’re still trying to do music at your age… (ummm. So, what I am doing is music and what has age got to do with it. It’s possible that sounded like a complement in your head, it didn’t when you said it out loud.)
It’s good that you are still (what’s with the $##&ing still) going for your dream. (it’s not a dream, I write and record music, I rehearse, and I perform, that’s my reality. It might not look like much from where you are standing and that is ok. I am doing, not dreaming)
Art has no intrinsic value. You would do it even if you didn’t make money, so therefore, it’s worthless. (you’re right, I’m speechless.)
And then there is the unsolicited advice. This is a tough one, I’ve given unsolicited advice, I’ve tried to problem solve the hell out of other people’s lives. In fact, I would say that I’m probably better at problem solving other people’s lives than my own. I try to do it a bit differently now, I ask how I can support people with their decisions. It’s a work in progress. I try to ask for permission before I give my input.
So that’s where I’ll start, when you are giving unsolicited advice, recognize that it might be unwanted, and you might not know what you are speaking to.
Under the guise of advice
Why don’t you go back to singing in clubs or bars? (this refers to the fact that I mostly do theatre shows, which are expensive and can be financially risky. Listen, if I want to sing my heart out where nobody is listening, I’ll sing in the bathroom, the acoustics are better)
You should write songs that are more jazz, pop, folk, more of anything than what you currently write. (Maybe, I have even tried to write something some other way. I write what I write, and I sing what I sing, and I am looking for improvement, and maybe, some people will come along for the ride, and some won’t.)
Under the guise of conversation
Are you a full-time singer/songwriter? No, I have a day gig. Oh, so it’s a hobby. It’s not a hobby, not for me. You know you have felt undermined or had your efforts go unrecognized, please don’t do it to other people.
I address these comments now, and I could be more thoughtful or measured in my responses. I am also more mindful of my preconceived ideas about others and their life’s work.
If you are a creative, keep forgiveness in your heart when people speak to you about your art in what feels like disparaging ways. Keep working, keep creating, and keep improving. Try to find the words to explain what and why you do what you do.
Find the people who get you. Make sure you support and champion the artists around you. Be gracious.
I’m taking my own advice here.