What I Feel Offstage
I am a social nightmare right now. Largely incapable of doing the things I “should” do to push my art – going to see my friends and peers do their thing, sharing music, and networking. I feel so blocked. I wish it were as easy as I think it is to just do these things.
I’m planning a BIG move. I’m working on a new learning skill to try and finance my life and hopefully get back into making music for fun/enjoyment instead of being a hired gun or “professional artist.”
I care SO much about the music that I make. Probably too much, and I’ve tied too much of my personal/professional identity to it. I feel completely at peace on stage, doing MY thing, and I never want to let that go. Anywhere else – I feel like I have to lie to everyone and pretend like I want to be there.
It’s the other 1001 pieces of being an artist that drains me. I’m afraid and have terrible anxiety about the social needs of being a professional in this industry. I am absolutely GARBAGE at small talk, and only really engage well in a social environment where I can speak to the things I know. Or otherwise, I fall silent or deflect socially to letting the other person talk at me.
Every time I try some new “hey, listen!” tactic it falls flat. In-person or online – I have a horrible time sharing my story. If prompted with the right questions, you might get to finagle a couple of good chunks of my life. Otherwise, good luck trying to get to know me or learn about anything I’m doing! I don’t text anyone anything, without a prompt or a years-long feeling of dread that I’ll lose the relationship if I don’t say SOMETHING. If you get a Happy Birthday from me, it’s my way of reaching out and saying “I don’t feel obligated to you, but I would like to continue having you in my life.”
I KNOW I’m doing it wrong. It’s not about knowing, it’s about the confidence to try again and again until it works. I’m great at this when it’s directly about improving skills, but terrible at it when it comes to being the mouthpiece for my art. Or maintaining human relationships with people I care about.
I push people away. I lash out at some arbitrary Pittsburgh overlord that keeps putting me down. I lash out at the people who may be trying to help but I feel misaligned with them. I’ve been made increasingly aware of my “otherness” when I look at the people who have the means to support me. This awareness is paralyzing and leads me to villainize people without understanding their true intentions.
But ultimately it’s me. I’m the problem. It’s always been me. And my music, the ART, suffers for it.
I haven’t been getting hit up for gigs as often as I used to, which is in line with what I was hoping for this year (more freedom to play original music solo or with my band). Some part of me, though, wonders if I did something wrong – I was expecting to have to turn down more work but ultimately found that I don’t have as much incoming work to turn down as I care to admit.
I don’t know what my relationship is with this professional world of music and art. I’d like to continue to be a part of it, but I can’t do it the same way I used to.
I am grateful (and beyond) for the opportunities that my solo project (f3ralcat) and my band (Feralcat and the Wild) have been receiving. We’re on the map and it’s exhilarating! It’s affirming and I want to continue with the mindset that I’m doing what’s right for me. It’s also a bit terrifying because I don’t want Pittsburgh to be the ceiling for what my band is capable of.
All-in-all, I think I’m beyond help in this industry. I’m frozen, blocked, paralyzed, and currently incapable of making the right decisions for my career. Whatever you do – don’t be like me.