Music used to be my refuge.
I went through a particularly rough period when I was 19. An important friendship had just ended, I was at a new school that was big and anonymous and my band of four years had disintegrated– My band, which was profoundly intertwined with my identity.
I survived this time by secluding myself in my basement and writing and recording my songs. The day my dad bought me an MBox 1 was one of the best days of my life. I taught myself how the microphones worked and I learned through trial-and-error that you can get a bigger sound by duplicating a track, panning one left and one right and moving them slightly out of sync. I taught myself audio production through experimentation.
For holidays, I would ask for new gear: a purple flanger peddle please, to go with my orange distortion. The detailed nature of mixing was both infuriating and deeply rewarding. Hours would melt away while I was in my little den, and I would emerge with a final product that I was so proud of.
But then one day, something happened. I stopped being able to write music.
That may sound dramatic, but all of my new songs began to feel stale and derivative. Lyrics were uninspired and the whole process, which used to bring me such joy, felt forced.
I decided to take a break from writing and focus instead on performing and learning jazz guitar. Eventually things got better for me in my personal life, and I emerged from my solitude, even made a few friends. I spent a summer in Boston studying music. I got to the finals in a songwriting competition (for songs I had already written) and was even awarded partial scholarship if I wanted to move there for school. It was a good summer.
But while I was enjoying playing in my ensembles and exploring where I could take my songs, I was still blocked when it came to creating anything new.
I kept trying to write, but nothing sounded good. Moreover, it wasn’t even fun anymore. I tried and tried. For another few years, I tried.
Finally, I had to admit something to myself. I had to admit that I had become bored.
But how could this be? Music was my life, my identity, my future. I had spent (my parent’s) money on so much gear. I had acquired a beautiful limited edition Taylor guitar. And worst of all, I was good at this. My songs were GOOD!
How could I have become bored at this thing I was so “gifted” at?
When you are a multipotentialite, people often tell you that you need to stick with something, that if you are giving it up, it’s because you’re afraid. I’ve found the opposite to be true. Usually I stick with something longer than I should out of fear.
It wasn’t fear or resistance or self-sabotage that was holding me back. In fact, the only fear that was present was the fear that was pushing me to keep trying, to stick with it. It was fear that was preventing me from letting go of this medium that I was comfortable in, and moving on to something new that I might not be so good at.
Meanwhile, I had decided not to study music in college, but to major in Communications/Film Production. I began writing scripts for my classes that were inspired by all of the teen dramas I that I loved growing up. I learned how to light a room, how to direct, I learned about the fourth wall and the rule of thirds. It was refreshing to work in a new medium. It was like exploring a new land, or using an entirely new sense.
As I became more involved in filmmaking, my shame around losing interest in music began to be eclipsed by my enthusiasm for film. The energy that I used to pour into my songs, I now poured into my short films.
That is, until… You guessed it, three years later, my interest in film began to wane.
It was around the same time when I happened to take one isolated law class. If film was a new world, then law was like an entirely different solar system. It was so different from anything I had ever explored. Torts? What the fuck is a tort? I was hooked… For two years.
And then I discovered entrepreneurship.
I wish I could have appreciated my shifts in identity/medium more. I wish I could have moved through them with grace and confidence instead of shame and anxiety. Had I known that they were completely in line with who I am (a multipotentialite), I would have been less afraid.
Looking back, all I want to do is give thanks. Thank you universe, for making me lose interest in music to make room for film. Thank you for making me lose interest in film to make room for law. Thanks for making me lose interest in law to make room for entrepreneurship. I acquired knowledge and tools through each journey. The experiences all add up and make my work in any medium — as well as my life — much more interesting.
And now, nearly ten years later, writing and recording music is not boring to me. It’s new and exciting again.
How has waning interest been a blessing in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts.