Snap Back to Reality
*Starting a new format where throughout the month I write little notes about what I'm going through and my thoughts with dates. It is now a bit more like a Diary in nature. I am hoping to regularly post during the first week of each month. Sometimes I forget to write the dates in.
I was so excited to get my second covid vaccine dose. I felt like I’d been waiting for this moment for an entire year; like the sun was finally coming out from behind the storm clouds; like it was still raining but the rainbow was there to give you a glimmer of hope and strength to make it through. I’ve made it through the worst of it.
After getting the shot I treated myself to Starbucks to celebrate. I got a large blended strawberry lemonade. I usually always order a small but this was a special occasion.
The day after my second covid vaccine was rough. It was like having a really bad hangover, along with chills and body aches all over. I slept during the moments I found between Tylenol’s when I could get somewhat comfortable. If this was just the vaccine, I can’t imagine how regular covid must have felt. My heart goes out to anyone who has had it. It’s weird to think that I really haven’t experienced being sick all year until this (although I have had a hangover or two.) I’m thankful the worst of it only lasted a day.
Whenever I’ve been sick and had to stay home from school when I was younger, I’d always experience a weird kind of sadness, like a more melancholy version of FOMO. The first day I was feeling so bad I didn’t notice, but the second day the emotions set in. I hate not being physically capable of working on things. I even had a job interview lined up that I had to postpone, which might be a missed opportunity, but I’ve learned over the years that if I truly want to be successful I need to put my mental and physical health first. That’s what I’ve sacrificed this entire year. I’ve got days to go as far as waiting until my vaccine is fully effective and it feels like an eternity. I want to get back to real life so bad, but even then I know I still need to be cautious. It goes completely against my natural instincts. If this whole experience has taught me anything, it’s patience. That and the importance of only putting time and effort into things that truly matter.
I made myself practice guitar today. I have been in Nashville for two years and if I’d just made myself practice when I first got here, I’d know what I’m doing by now, but I don’t. and it’s my own fault. This frustrates me, so I’m trying to make up for it this year.
The truth is, it’s hard because I’m not really passionate about playing guitar. What I want is to be able to play my own songs and some covers without having to depend on anyone. If I could afford to have a player with me at all times that’s what I would likely do instead, but I know it’s still good to be able to play on your own. It gives you legitimacy as an artist and allows you to command a space on your own, which is something I want to be able to do.
It’s just frustrating. I hate being a beginner. I want to have it down already. It sucks. It feels awkward, it hurts my back and chest, some of these chords IDK how I’m humanely supposed to be able to do that with my fingers.
My practice today wasn’t great, and it didn’t last that long. But hopefully, it still counts for something. I’m going to try and make myself do at least an hour a day. That and voice too. I haven't sung a lot over this pandemic and it shows.
I don’t know what was going on with me today, but I could not seem to get out of bed. Even when I was awake I was tired. I spent most of the day sleeping and laying down. My big accomplishment for the day? Going to Krispy Creme for a free donut.
Unproductive days make me feel depressed. Maybe I’m just feeling anxious about the world opening back up and having to return to the speed I once lived my life. Maybe my body is resisting that. I’m sad because the Nebraska spring game is tomorrow but I didn’t want to chance it with my two-week mark from the vaccine being the 7th.
It’s still a scary place to be even when vaccinated because there aren’t many restrictions here in Nashville. I feel pressure to be out and about and suffer from severe FOMO but at the same time want to do things according to CDC guidelines. It’s a big source of anxiety.
I got some guitar lessons set up so it’s not like I’m not making any progress. I really need to get my YouTube and podcast going. I feel like once I can get into a rhythm with all of this stuff things will accelerate really fast for me, it’s just going to take getting over that initial hump first.
Songwriting still isn’t coming very easy to me. This morning I had a really good idea and sat on my balcony to try and turn it into something, all I got in was a bit of freewriting.
I feel like this pandemic has changed me in a lot of ways, good and bad. I’m really clear about where my priorities lie. I don’t have the energy for things that don’t immediately serve my happiness. At the same time, I feel like I’ve become a lot more anxious and more easily overwhelmed.
I was able to do a few tasks in the early hours around 2 am when my mind is most active. I wish I could get my body to operate on a normal schedule. I feel like my life would be so much easier if that were the case.
Good things are happening all around me. My song Heat of the Moment just got on Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist without me even doing anything to promote it. I feel like I’m at a point where maybe things are going to go really uphill for my career and maybe I’m scared because I don’t feel ready. Maybe it feels safer knowing I’ve got a lot up ahead, but this is the year I think I'm really going to accelerate upward. Something in me can sense it.
I'm going to try to get up before noon tomorrow.
Something I’ve learned is that it’s actually more productive for me not to try and fight my own “lazy.” Having tried to push through today, I would have just felt overwhelmed and stressed out. Instead, I’ve got some fire in me to make tomorrow more productive, and I’m eager to wake up and do just that. I think it’s important to listen to your body and act accordingly. Maybe I just needed to recharge.
Today was THE WORST.
For some back story, I have been having some issues with my left ear. It randomly started feeling clogged. I went to a clinic and was told. it was allergies, so I got a steroid shot and nose spray that didn't help. Then I was sent to see an ENT, whose office was in the Vanderbilt Hospital. Keep in mind I've kept mostly to my own household for over. a year now. Now I'm walking into a full-blown hospital with people everywhere. I'm also running on less than three hours of sleep because the appointment was early. I've never felt so overwhelmed before. I was lost wandering around the building and couldn't keep the tears from coming out, which only freaked me out more because it was making my mask wet. After finally getting to my appointment the doctor said says my ears were completely fine. With no direction on what to do next or what is wrong with me, I came home and slept all day.
I then did what you should never do when it comes to medical things, I googled my symptoms, and surprise surprise the internet told me I had cancer. Great. I spent the next two days anxious and sad. How awful would that be just as I was about to get my life back?
After playing through numerous made-up scenarios in my head and sending myself into an anxiety frenzy, I came to a realization. This kind of thing is all the more reason to live for today. As invincible as I want to feel as a young person, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. It feels like death has been lurking around every corner this year. Beyond covid I recently had an uncle die in a car accident, and it’s made me seriously afraid every time I get into my vehicle. It’s so hard when there’s so much you want to do in life but no matter how safe and careful you are, it’s just the kind of thing that you can’t control. As we speak there is literally a Chinese rocket hurdling through space that could crash on one of our heads this weekend. We’re very fragile beings.
This week I’m going to have to get a CT scan and a scope up my nose, something I’m terrified of. I already know I’m going to cry and cause a scene. I hope the doctors are nice.
So remember the big picture. Live every day like it could be your last. Go after that big dream. Tell that person you love them. Life is such a beautiful gift and we need to stop wasting it working jobs we hate or letting fear keep up from pursuing what lights us up inside.
Everything will likely turn out fine for me as it usually does when I take to Google for medical advice, but if it somehow didn’t, if anything it would just give me more determination and freedom to keep pursuing my hopes and dreams and putting what I really value and enjoy about life first. As Tim McGraw so eloquently put:
"Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying"
I’m feeling extremely anxious about social interactions. I was invited to a bonfire where I wouldn’t know most of the people there. Prepandemic me would jump at the chance to make new friends and even do some networking, but post-pandemic me feels overwhelmed just thinking about it.
It was a similar feeling to trying to navigate through all the people at the doctor's office.
Last night I tried to certify for unemployment, only to find that I wouldn’t get anything this week because I made an excessive amount of money. That amount you ask? $360. Had I done no work at all, I would have gotten $517. It is insane that the state of Tennessee thinks people can survivor on $275 a week and pay their bills, and it’s extremely frustrating to be actually seeking out work, only to feel like I’m being punished for doing so. I felt so discouraged that I slept through most of my day today. Then I got up to do more work I’d be getting paid -$200 for.
The pandemic has really put a lot into perspective for me. It’s really hard to stay motivated at a job when you place no actual value in it anymore. For so long I just went with the idea because it was what was always expected of people when they grow up. You get a job. I don’t know if I have it in me anymore to enthusiastically give my finite time to someone else’s dream. At the same time, I need to at this point in order to fund my own dreams, so it puts me at a crossroads, and it's depressing.
The thing is, I’m not lazy. I’m an extremely hard worker. I was always a great student. The problem is adult work is not about learning or growing anymore. It’s about giving my labor so someone can squeeze as much profit out of me as possible, leaving me drained when I finally get my own time. It's a scam.
I’m exploring different options. I’m trying to do mission-driven work to actually feel like what I’m doing matters. I'm also trying to do more freelancing and looking into getting multiple part-time jobs so it’s more variety and fewer expectations. The truth is I need to find a job where I can just perform a task (well) and just not care that much, cause that’s where I’m at at this point.
I know unemployment won’t last forever. I know I’ll need to find something. It’s just what do I find that fuels my own work instead of stresses me out and leaving me feeling empty. I’m still trying to figure that out. I’m trying to be positive, but sometimes you need to take a day to mope around in order to have the energy to come up with an actual plan. What can I say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Maybe part of it is feeling like I’ve wasted the time I did have off. I could have used those hours learning guitar, doing vocal exercises, getting in shape, or writing my next hit song. Throughout the past year, I hardly did any of those things. What I need to remind myself is that what I did do is survive a pandemic, and the physical and mental toll that came with it, not to mention an extremely stressful and pivotal election season. This wasn’t vacation time. Hardly, it was the opposite, and given the circumstances, I need to remember that I actually have accomplished a lot. I raised over $2000 to fund my EP. I grew a following of 17.8k on TikTok. I’m in the process of bringing that EP to life. I’m starting my YouTube series. I’m finally actually planning to take guitar lessons consistently. On paper that looks like a lot, and yet to me it still feels like barely enough. Such is the life of an independent artist.
The pace of my life is picking back up. Things are going into motion after being stagnant for a year, I’m going to be busy again. physics says an object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force, and maybe that’s what’s happening here. I’ve been at rest for a while. I’ve gotten used to it. I feel comfortable in it. I feel incredibly anxious about being in motion again, but maybe these outside forces pushing me back into orbit is the universe telling me that the time is right, and this will be the year a lot of my hard work starts to pay off.
Today was a much better day. Although I still struggled to get up around 2 pm I made it to my guitar lesson. It was nice to see Matt again since I haven't seen any friends in a while. He’s been extremely helpful as far as playing with me at gigs, and he’s also helping me make charts for my songs. Today we worked on learning “Leave that Man” and a little bit of "Rome." He also taught me about the Nashville number chart. Although I’m still on the struggle bus, there was a little bit of magic in there when I did get things right and I know it will feel incredible to be able to play my own songs on my own one day.
The Nashville Number System is really interesting. It is something good to learn before coming to town. I am still trying to fully understand it myself, it doesn't make a ton of sense to me right now but I'm slowly grasping bits and pieces.
Not playing guitar is a big insecurity for me. It makes me feel like I’m being taken less seriously as an artist. I know that’s not true because I hear entire symphonies in my head while I’m writing and then some, but I can’t help but be insecure about the optics. Some writer's rounds won’t even let you play if you have an accompanist. I’m also frustrated with myself because had I actually committed to practicing when I first moved here nearly two years ago, I’d likely have it down by now. Instead, I’m still a beginner.
I’m making sure this is the year I actually learn. Luke Combs didn’t pick one up until he was 21 so I know it’s doable.
I attended Song Salon (virtually) for the first time in a while. I didn’t have a song of my own to bring but it was nice to reconnect with my writer friends. A lot of times on my way home from SS in person, I’d get new ideas. I’ve been struggling with songwriting lately so I know going salon even virtually will help me with inspiration. My friends even gave me feedback on some of the demos I recorded as part of my EP planning.
I wrote a complete song today. It’s not a masterpiece by any means, but solo songs have been few and far between lately so it is something to celebrate. I think I’m getting my mojo back.
Today’s doctor's appointment was better than the last one. I didn’t get so hopelessly lost in the building this time and I wore my kn95 mask so I was a lot less anxious. I did have to wait a while in the waiting room because apparently one of their machines broke. I did get anxious when I got the CT scan though. I think the fact that it was such a serious medicinal device freaked me out. Laying down there I felt really exposed. I also had concerned about the radiation, even though the Mayo Clinic says it’s pretty low risk.
I just want everything to be alright. I have a feeling that it is, but the fear lingers in the back of my head. I’ve just come so far, I have so much left to do, I don’t want anything holding me back anymore especially after a year like this. I haven’t told anyone really what’s going on so I am feeling really alone. At the same time, I don’t want to burden others with worries and have it turn out to be nothing. I see the doctor again tomorrow so we’ll see. It’s an 8 am appointment so I’m most likely going to pull an all-nighter.
All of this has kept me from working on my YouTube series, and now I’m two days behind. It’s 2 am and I haven’t started editing it yet. I’m going to watch the news and then attempt to do so. These videos are a lot more of an undertaking than I originally considered, I may have to change it to biweekly instead of every week, especially when I start working again.
I’ve learned to embrace having no idea what’s going on half the time. I think when you learn how to surrender to that feeling and run with it instead of trying to fight it, that’s what allows miracles to happen. A lot of the time blind faith in yourself is all you have, and the better you can get at that the more doors begin to open, and all of a sudden things start happening for you you never thought possible.
I am still awake from last night. My doctor's appointment was at 8 am
I told myself this time was going to be less stressful. I tried to stay positive but the moment I pulled into the parking lot and couldn’t find a space I was already overwhelmed. Then I made a wrong turn and was going the wrong way and was yelled at by a rude staffer. Adult hospitals are truly the worst. It’s like they go out of their way to make it the worst experience possible. When I get rich and famous, I want to start a brand of adult hospitals that are designed like children’s hospitals with Disney world type customer service. You are probably at your most stressed when you’re going to a hospital, everything around you like the people and the atmosphere shouldn’t be making it worse but that has always been my experience.
I finally found a parking spot. I of course got turned around exiting the parking lot and couldn’t find the building I was supposed to be in. Then, I see a giant smoke ploom. I ask an officer what’s going on and there is a LITERAL FIRE happening in the parking lot across the way. It ended up burning multiple cars.
Because of that, I had to take the stairs to the 7th floor because the elevators were stopped. Then, I couldn’t get in the door to the office, it was locked. Luckily someone with a pass was entering at the same time as me.
I looked out the window at the commotion below, a little skeptical of whether it was really safe in the building. I could still see smoke rising from the parking garage, but the front desk lady said we were safe.
Finally, the doctor came in. He went over my CT scan. Everything was normal, to my relief.
I am hesitant to bring this up because I don’t want to discourage anyone, but I did start having this issue after I got my vaccine. Covid itself has been reported to cause hearing loss and ringing in some people, and my doctor said it’s a possibility for the immune response from the vaccine to have a side effect like that as well. He said to just give it time and it would resolve. I believe that it will. It also could have been related to having my wisdom teeth taken out, I had a cyst growing on that side of my face that they had to remove. I also get tonsil stones on that side (Google them they’re gross and annoying) so that could also be a factor. They don’t know. It’s a minor inconvenience and my actual hearing test came back normal in that ear anyway. It’s not holding me back from life. I’m just happy to know it isn't anything serious. I’d still recommend that everyone gets vaccinated. Long-term covid complications have been much worse, and as far as my music, I need my lungs to be in top shape, and thanks to being vaccinated I feel a lot safer in that regard.
On the way home, some songs came on my Spotify shuffle that gave me hope. "Lights Come On" by Jason Aldean is a song I always imagine playing right before I perform a big stadium show. "Hold On" YOLA made me feel like I could let go of the stress and look forward to good things to come. When I got home, I found out that Garth Brooks is playing at memorial stadium in Nebraska. I decided I’m going. Life is all about making things happen.