I have a hard work ethic that goes something like this: The harder you work, the better the result. This is not always true, and I still have to learn to put aside things that are wasting my time (often favors for friends) and focus on getting the job done, rather than just doing it because I believe I’m living out my chosen lifestyle. What are you actually trying to make?
I want to be exceptional because my family always paid more attention (love) to me when I was being funny and performing. I often feel I have to earn people’s affection. As a result, I expect other people to earn mine. I have turned emotion into a currency in which I trade.
I find mediocrity unacceptable and I feel cut out for something greater. This ambition can both inspire and enslave me because I don’t know what else I would be doing if I wasn’t working on being a musician / performer.
I don’t consider myself exceptional deep inside, but I feel the need to play this part in order to keep up with the expectations I’ve placed on myself. I am constantly worried that I am not good enough, and I am very sensitive to the reactions I get from other people. I am under their control when I gauge the quality of my work / performance alongside the reaction (or lack thereof) of the small public circle I can call my friends and fans.
I am preoccupied with growing the number of people who pay attention to my work. This habit often takes over the work itself. I am envious of people who have achieved greater numbers of fans than I have, even if their work is less inspiring, artistic or meaningful. I particularly look down on the overabundance of DJs who release mixes of music which they didn’t write, and of producers who use samples of popular music alongside their own meagre efforts in order to make their releases glow. I often enviously regard both of these practices as a failure to live up to the title of art.
I am, of course, both of these people, too. But I can’t admit that to myself very easily.
When I witness these thoughts within myself, I am overcome with bitterness and I hate the fact that other people’s work is even something I am forced to compare myself to in order to get noticed, and thereby achieve my sense of satisfaction. I would like to be free of these feelings of jealousy and realize what I need to so that I can love my own work more than I hate others’. I act like a purist, an elitist, exclusive. As if my work is better because it took longer to make, or because I play the violin and you only copy other people’s music. Or because I practice guitar every day and you just throw together a DJ mix once a month and many more people notice and love you more for doing something easier.
I want to realize that many of these same people have the power to disarm my negativity, simply because they do respect me as an artist. They haven’t said it because they haven’t met me yet, but as I continue to perform and spread my story, the same people I share the circle with will step back and admit to themselves that they can’t do what I do, and that I am truly inspiring. Many of them already have said similar things, in their own words, and it always leaves me feeling humbled. My ego, my demand for recognition sometimes consumes the actual work itself, and I want to be free of it.
I am ready to release the negative feelings I have for the individuals who I falsely perceive as threatening my artistic security. I want to find my tribe, and hear them daily. I have chosen a path with no guarantees. I am fully aware that the odds are against me, that the world has no obligation to reward me for everything I’ve done. I accept that I may be teaching and hit 45 some day and say, well, I’ve been giving it my best shot and I am still not able to make a living as a musician. That’s a possibility. The other possibility is that it does happen, and perhaps then I will see the value of these days, having a secure job instead of the unreliable musician’s life. There are ways that my thinking will change.
In summary, I have to change the source of my satisfaction. It still comes from the outside. I want my reward to be inward, something that can not be given or taken away. I want to be free of the desire for affection and attention. I want to leave behind a record of songs and artwork which doesn’t have to exist once I no longer do.