The Cost of a Dream
*I think I'd written the following entries around February, considering I mention Valentine's Day. I really need to do a better job of dating these and promise I will going forward!
Its been a hell of a past couple of weeks. A lot has happened and I haven’t been able to keep up with my writing. I wish I had because I’d have several different posts with several different tones and outlooks on life. But I’ll try to breeze through it and give you the big picture.
As 2019 wrapped up I made a bunch of goals for 2020. Some of the big ones were to assemble and start playing with a full band, record and release an ep and learn guitar. I wanted to make these goals a blog post of their own actually but it never got there. I’ve still got them chillin' in a word document. I guess I was afraid to post them and potentially fail, even though my intent in posting them was to have you guys hold me accountable.
2019 ended on a high note. I played in some more prominent venues around town and was making plans to record new music. I rang in 2020 properly (thanks Meg) and I felt like my year of survival was over, and that this was the year to start making big strides.
I hired a financial advisor because I have had the same credit card balances for a year without making any progress on the debt. I have a ten thousand dollar personal loan and another four thousand dollar personal loan that I took out for my 2019 singles and music videos, along with student debt and a car payment. I was hoping she’d be able to help me with refinancing options, or creative ways to combine my loans and get a lower interest rate, helping me free up some cash to put toward creative projects.
What I got instead was basically an obituary for all my new music plans for at least the next sixth months. The fact was, I was already spreading myself very thin. I was not going out, not spending a lot on groceries and essentials, and didn’t have much to pull back from. So basically the plan became I would need to get a second job and do a debt snowball.
Well, the only other second job I could get right away, that would also allow for a flexible schedule, was Postmates driving. Postmates was what I did when I first moved to Nashville in order to get by until I found my current day job. It was something I never thought I’d need to revisit out of necessity.
So here I am again, a whole year later, a lot more successful, and still feeling like I’m stuck in the same place. There is absolutely nothing more frustrating than knowing what you are capable of and having a plan to get there, only to be held back due to a lack of resources. I am very well aware that this is part of life, but damn is it frustrating.
By the end of that week, I was just feeling completely discouraged. I had a very negative outlook on everything I encountered. I had been driving after work for a week straight and spent my entire weekend driving as well.
Thankfully, despite my grim outlook on my situation, the Universe was able to nudge me in the right direction. I had been playing phone tag with a girl named Dani Felt, whom I was acquainted with and was trying to connect with to talk about possible collaborations. She was a well-connected person that offered marketing and coaching services. She knew my producer, and we’d talked back and forth about potential sync opportunities (getting my music into movies and T.V) She had texted me and I had failed to respond. As the night ended and my orders slowed down I texted her back (it had been days.) She invited me to come over that night, and I agreed.
I am the type that likes to play tough and act like I never get down. I was doing pretty well at first, as we were talking about some general things. But as she asked more pointed questions, it got tougher and tougher to hold it all in and I ended up finally breaking and crying (which I hate doing in front of people, let alone people I barely know.) But Dani didn’t miss a beat. We dove right into what was bothering me (and it turns out there was a lot pent up.) She taught me a technique to release some of those feelings, and we talked through everything. The cool thing about Dani is that she has this ability to give great advice without coming across preachy and judgmental, and I felt weirdly comfortable oversharing when I typically like to bury everything down.
She helped me totally transform the way I was seeing so many things. Without realizing it I had built up a lot of limiting beliefs. I felt like if I didn’t keep releasing a bunch of new music and spend a ton of money on videos and promotions, people would forget about me. I felt like I only had till I was 30 to make it in the music industry. I felt like getting another job would allow no time in my schedule for music and that I wouldn’t be able to continue. I thought I had to work nonstop and sacrifice my social life. She not only gave me business tips about releasing content that wouldn’t cost me thousands of dollars, but she helped me change my perspective on all of these issues.
Since I talked to her, things turned around for a week. I felt like I was back on track. I started looking into new jobs as opportunities to make money and make new connections. When I was delivering food (until I found something else that works for me) I was utilizing that time to listen to music industry podcasts and learn some new things. I was letting myself be happy in the current moment and instead of stressing that I am running out of time, and instead just knowing that things will work out for me at the perfect time. I even had a fun night with friends, where I pushed myself to get up and sing at an open mic event even when I didn’t feel prepared. I felt proud of myself. I felt like I was through the rough patch. I then found out that I’d be getting a huge tax return. Everything was looking up.
Then came Valentine’s Day. I’m not dating anyone, (and that truly doesn’t bother me) so I was looking forward to capitalizing with Postmates on the holiday. Things looked promising until my second order of the night. It was at a Thai Restaurant that said the wait for the food would be twenty minutes. It ended up being two hours. For those who don’t know, you get “peak driving” times in Postmates, for the lunch or dinner rush, where if you get a certain number of deliveries you’d get a bonus (an extra 40 or 50 or even 100 dollars depending on the night.) Well, clearly that wasn’t going to happen. I’ve been in the service industry, so I try my best to be patient and understanding of those working. As other take-out customers got agitated, I sat there for an hour and played it cool. I was learning to let go of things I couldn’t control, remember? But then the time went on, and it became clear that they were just ignoring us. People legitimately walked in the restaurant, sat down, ordered, ate their meals, and left before they got to us. And the crazy part was, more people kept coming in and she kept saying “it will be twenty minutes” ridiculous. They then fulfilled some take-out orders, for people who were in line and ordered after me. I finally just ended up canceling the order on my own end and leaving. It was the start of a deflate I would feel for the rest of that week.
I stayed out driving until 3 am that night to make up for the lost time. The next day probably because of the stress, I ended up sleeping until 4 PM. I missed a cowrite I had scheduled with an artist I was really excited about collaborating with. I tried to keep it positive and do some more driving, only to realize that my Postmates prepaid card was gone. I tore my room, wallet, and car apart looking for it to no avail. For those who don’t know, with Postmates some orders you just pick up and others you use a prepaid card they mail you to pay. Without that card, I pretty much had to accept orders manually and decline ones that I guessed would use the card. I didn’t end up making much money.
I then found out that a potential single opportunity (on a song I'd co-written) would not be, because I was deemed not a good enough artist to sing it. I wrote a lot more on this subject, but for the sake of keeping bridges intact, I'm not going to elaborate further about it on it here, at least, not right now. Long story short, business is business, but that doesn't mean it can't still hurt your feelings.
At the end of the day, it’s not my job to make other people believe in me. If you are an artist, you need to remember this, because it is going to happen probably a lot. You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. You are enough the way you are, and instead of wasting time trying to convince someone who doesn’t believe that, you should be seeking out people who do. I'm not saying you shouldn't take constructive criticism, because you definitely should, that helps you grow. I'm simply saying respect yourself and don't base your worth entirely on the opinions of others because, at the end of the day, opinions are subjective. There is a distinct difference between those who won't give you a chance and those who will be excited by your potential and build you up, even if you’re still a work in progress. I’m lucky to already have a lot of people like that in my life, and those are the ones I will give my time and energy to.
Things got a little better when I went to a viewing party for my friend’s debut on American Idol. At the very least I got some human interaction.
The following day was a Monday Song Salon, which I hadn’t made it to in a while. It was a decent-sized group, and it definitely helped lift my spirits. I can get so easily caught up in all the big plans, but Song Salon has always grounded me in what is really important. Sharing songs and stories with genuine people.
I’m hoping I will have a better week this week. I’m doing my best to have a positive outlook because I know it’s unproductive otherwise. I’m just too damn emotional, but hey, what can I say, it makes for great art. I’ve got to take it one step at a time, realize these situations are here to help me learn and grow and have faith that everything will work out for me when it’s supposed to. I may get down, I may feel like trash, I may cry and complain, I may get my hopes up only to watch them fall because some things are out of my control, but I will never give up. And I think that will be the difference.