I feel like I go through periods where I’m really in a rut emotionally, mentally and financially. We all do. I go through times where I feel very inadequate and totally down-trodden for various reasons. As musicians, it’s difficult to make that transition from ‘upcoming’ to ‘well-known’ and in these trying years, we need constant boosters to keep our hope alive, keep us patient, keep us focused and motivated.
We are usually told to keep away from the rut but never really know what to do while we are bang smack in the middle of it. How can they? Especially if they aren’t musicians…right? My advice below is for when you are already in it but trying so hard to get out of it – and it’s not the usual ‘stop making comparisons’ or ‘find a mentor’. (These are always very valid pieces of advice but I’ve put together a list of immediate actionable and not very usual methods that I hope will help. Certainly, a lot of these points should be done whether or not you are in a rut).
1). Compare, Compare, Compare!
There is a healthy side to comparing yourself to other people that nobody really talks about. Sometimes, looking at what other people are doing can create a negative feeling but for me, these days, it boosts my energy to strive to be better. I think I’ve created a foundational element of confidence that equips me to look at amazing things people are doing and it forces me to get up and work harder to reach my own unique and innovative goals.
2). Do Something That Makes You Feel Noticed
Yes! Absolutely. People usually tell you to be selfless and give not take but sometimes, there is room for wanting to be seen and heard and acknowledged. Without doing this in a negative or arrogant way, doing something that will make you feel important, noticed, worthy of praise can really help to boost your confidence and make you step out of that mental zone that cripples most upcoming musicians.
3). Call Another Struggling Musician
Sharing stories and advice can really help to put things in perspective. Whenever I have conversations with my other musician friends, I realize that a lot of us are in the same boat and we are all struggling in something no matter what level we are on or the various kinds of acclamation we are getting. As B.I.G said, ‘Mo Money, Mo Problems!’. Life isn’t peachy for the non-struggling ones either. The people who win are the ones who are willing to react differently to the rut they find themselves in and keep pushing forward.
4). Don’t Take Everything Online As Gospel
This goes without saying but sometimes we need a reminder. If you can think of the times that you have uploaded a picture of you cheesing while you actually are lying in bed crying, then you will realize that a lot of what goes online is quite the same too. Without dwelling on pretense and lies, facing reality and knowing that not everybody’s life is as glossy and perfect as they say/show it is can really help to make you feel less of a waste.
5). Compliment A Friend Who Is More Successful Than You
This helps. Try it. And don’t be insincere about it of course. If you catch yourself being slightly jealous or envious, that’s the best time to pay compliments because it becomes mutually beneficial – to you and to the receiver. These things always come back around in a positive way and you will feel better for genuinely feeling like you are boosting somebody else’s confidence. It will eventually boost your own.
Hope this helps.
None of these points should be misconstrued as ulterior motive moves – to only make yourself feel better. Everything should come from a healthy place to help you out of your rut.
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