The challenges of failure receive more publicity than those that accompany success. I’ve seen many spirited artists melt under the spotlights of stardom. They are drained by super itineraries and short sighted creative directions given by the cold hands of a business team that is driven by one thing…money. Until now, situations like these consolidated a belief in me that us artists have to be mentally and emotionally self-sufficient and independent. That a relationship between artist and team shouldn’t venture beyond music and business. After burning out, this is what I’ve been gearing up for. Every day, I achieve feats that feed my confidence, but still, my dreams scare the shit out of me. When they surface, self-doubt sends them back into the darkness of my subconscious, only for them to return…over and over again. I keep at it but no accomplishment leaves me feeling ready to see through my aspirations alone.
Whether it’s a hand to get back up on stage, or a muse that unlocks new creative ideas. A conversation that fuels belly fires, or reassurance from a voice of experience. My support network has played a crucial role in keeping me aligned with my deeper desires, particularly over these last few years. But it was an unexpected visit from old friend Col Hatchman, who I devoted 10 musical years to, that brought a truth to the surface. I don’t want to do this by myself. I can, but I don’t want to. His wild eyed, energetic, lust for life presence triggered flashbacks of our band partnership. Together, we could do anything. Only when our life paths pulled us away from each other, did I suffer alone on the road.
I reflect on my experience in music as a kid. When it was busier and crazier than ever. Having my parents and manager by my side, looking after my wellbeing. This in turn allowed me to focus on what I do best. Was this part of the reason that I could always find ground in whatever crazy situations I found myself in? As a 34 year old, I felt wrong for wanting that type of support. As if it’s a sign of weakness. Isn’t emotional dependency suppose to sit in the revision mirror with Never Never Land?
My psychologist shakes his head. My mother says, “Who do you think you are, Jesus?” I’m taught that strength is in having a healthy dependency on others, being mindful enough along the way to know when to draw on them for support. We’re comfortable in receiving logistical support in all manners – bookings, transportation, roadies, accounts, wardrobe, makeup etc…what’s wrong with having someone available for emotional support? I’m educated on what I didn’t see as a child in music. The struggles of my artist friends are overcome with the hands of their team. A team who understands that music business is an emotionally influenced economy. Managers must ensure artist wellbeing is not a burden, but simply good business! This was a major ‘aha!’ moment for me. All this time, I based my notion of artist/team dynamics on relationships that were dysfunctional. The future looks different.
The day that I have it all figured out with full faith in myself was never going to come. But to think that I could set up a working relationship with a team that can support me emotionally means that I don’t have to have it all worked out myself. With shared faith, my desires now feel realistic. The load of my passions feels lighter, maybe because I was never meant to do it alone. Is that another thing that burning out showed me?
First step, eliminating the “I don’t want to be a downer” voice that softens my calls for help. I’ll pay a roadie and then feel bad that he’s carrying my gear and do it for him! I can spend the first half of a psychologist appointment watering down my problems because I don’t want to bring him down when hearing my problems is his job!! Maybe next time your manager or friend asks, “How are you feeling?” answer truthfully – and it’ll be up to them as to whether they want to play that role. Full respect given.
“With a Little Help From My Friends”. Truth.
Question: In any profession, why do we think that we shouldn’t need mental and emotional support along the way?