The Importance of Rest
In case you didn’t know, sharks are my favorite animals.
I feel like I can relate to sharks in a lot of ways. I love to eat, I’m more active at night, and I feel like I’m constantly in motion. Sharks as you may know need to keep swimming in order to live.
However, I alas am not actually a shark (but if I was I think I’d be a mako) I am a human being. And humans, unlike sharks, need more rest, but being a young person in such a fast-paced world makes this harder than you might imagine.
I was on my high school’s Orchesis dance team, and I was fortunate enough to be in a piece to the song Vienna by Billy Joel (you know, from 13 going on 30.)
“Too bad but it’s the life you lead you’re so ahead of yourself that you forgot what you need and you can see when you’re wrong but no you can’t always see when you’re right”
I’ve never understood the meaning of this song more than I do it this exact moment. As an aspiring artist, I constantly feel like I have to be doing so many things at once. I have to work so I can afford to live and pay off my student loans. I have to be writing daily, and practicing fiddle, guitar, keyboard and attend voice lessons. I have to create and post quality content for my social media pages (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube) and do my best to hunt down Spotify curators and convince them to put my music on a playlist. I have to find time to go to the gym. I’m also being social and working on growing my professional network, making those important connections. In my world, rest often takes a back seat.
I was sick for an entire month before I moved out of my apartment in Nebraska. Being the go-getter that I am, it was my worst nightmare. I’d get a fever, start to feel better, jump back into all of my activities right away and go downhill again. I got prescription medicine twice for what started as a common cold.
As awful as this was, it taught me a very important lesson. It is not only okay but necessary to rest. If I’m not giving myself a break now and then, mentally and physically, I’m not going to be healthy, and if I’m not healthy, I won’t be able to achieve my lofty goals as fast as I’d like to.
So I took a month at home with my family before moving and I treated it like a vacation. I focused on finishing up my newest single but gave myself a break from everything else. I wasn’t working out heavily, just walking my dog every day. I dabbled with the guitar here and there to help my little brother before his lesson. I wrote some poems when they’d pop into my head, but I wasn’t putting pressure on myself at all. I wasn’t approaching these things like I was running out of time to achieve them. I slept in. I watched T.V. I went to lunch with my mom and grandma. I hung out with friends, and chilled at the pool, I took some time to budget my money. I relaxed and recharged. And I finally didn’t get sick again.
Once I move to Nashville, I’ll be back with an even more strenuous routine, but I will strive to approach it with less anxiety, and I will do my best to allow rest. It’s hard when we’re taught that time is money, and taking time to rest somehow makes us lazy, or somehow shows the world that we don’t want our dreams badly enough. I encourage artist out there, or even young professionals, in general, to rest for the SAKE of your dreams and your success. In the end, staying healthy will get you there faster.
“Slow down you crazy child, and take your phone off the hook and disappear at for a while, it’s alright you can afford to lose a day or two”
Realize that Vienna waits for you. So does Nashville, L.A, or anywhere else.
Side note: I realize that I write this post from a position of privilege and not everyone has the means to rest to the extent that did in my example. This is an unfortunate reality in our current world, and we collectively need to do better and make a comfortable life more attainable for everyone. I could write a whole separate post about that, and I just might. However, this is more about the internal pressures people can put on themselves, and ignoring that voice in your head that tells you resting makes you weak or lazy.
(a message from real-time me)
I’ve moved to Nashville since originally writing this post, and let me tell you how TRUE and IMPORTANT this resting concept is in maintaining my energy. I literally do not get a break most days. I go to my day job, stop home for a quick dinner, and am off to something else, whether it is studio time, writing critiques, voice lessons, cowrites, dance classes, performances and anything else, I am constantly in motion. Having kept my previous thoughts on rest in mind, I’ve really done my best to pay attention to my body and take a night off when I’m starting to feel too much stress, fatigue or illness coming on. It’s done wonders for keeping me healthy, and more importantly, when I do this, I am actually out of the game for way less time than I would have been if I powered through and ended up sick. PLEASE take breaks for your physical AND mental health if you can.
Another thing I realized, with the schedule that I have, is that rest isn’t always laying around watching T.V or sleeping. Sometimes it can be taking a weekend to do something social, purely for fun and nothing else. I don’t get out much anymore, and that is because I am constantly working on my music, and am investing a lot of money into my music. My work is fun don’t get me wrong, but every now and then I need to give myself some social time. Going out to lunch or out at night with my friends and not worrying about the music, if only for a couple nights, keeps my spirits up and gives me the energy to go hard on the music once Monday hits. It’s keeping me from burning out, or succumbing to the stress and pressure I take on while pushing myself to become a better artist. Life is all about balance. Work hard, play hard, rest hard, repeat. Don’t ever let anyone try and make you feel bad for having a balanced life.
“It don’t mean I won’t go far or I can’t win, even the fastest cars need pit stops now and then.”