Dear Artists and Dreamers,
When you feel you've hit a wall, it's hard to recognize your true value. I mean, you know you've got talent but you question whether it can really stand out. But those closest to you can clearly see what you have and you're left standing there (hypothetically), as if the butt of an inside joke. "I can't believe they don't know how special they are!" All the while, you're walking around, pummeled by the constant pressure you face in a world full of comparisons. You have a gift but you've placed it on the shelf because you're discouraged or feel stuck. You're in an ARTISTIC FUNK. The crux of the problem? You don't believe that what you have is "special enough" to push through the feelings of inadequacy and frustration.
Does this sound anything like you? If the answer is "YES" I have great news! Are you ready for it?
Every person who has ever dared to chase a dream, has found themselves in this unfortunate state. Yes its true! I'm singing "You are not alone" in my Michael Jackson voice (just kidding, but seriously.) Even the "seemingly most confident" people alive, have had these moments of doubt and discouragement. No one is exempt from feeling threatened or inadequate and almost everyone has been tempted to quit at some point. But, it's what you do in these moments of discouragement that help shape you for greatness.
I personally run into moments like these all the time but most frequently while I'm writing songs for placements. There are days I say to myself " Who convinced me that I was good at this?" because believe me when I say, there are some songs that will NEVER see the light of day, simply because THEY'RE LESS THAN DESIRABLE in my book! They're are times when I feel mentally blocked and so discouraged that I fall into a funk. This funk tempts me to go into a downward spiral of unproductive thoughts like "If only I'd started doing this earlier, I'd be so much further along. I'd be better" or "Why did I waste so much time in my life?" You get the picture!
Thinking this way does more damage than you may realize. When did we decide that stomping ourselves even further down, could somehow lead us out of a low place? IT'S NOT POSSIBLE. I'm working on this myself and I've found a few amazing things that get me out of that funk. Here's what I've learned! When feeling mentally and artistically overwhelmed:
1. STEP AWAY AND BREATHE
Go for a walk or run. Step outside (Even if its cold, grab a coat) and breathe in some fresh air. It can really clear your head. Even if you're not a runner, stand out on the front porch. If you don't have a porch, stand on your balcony or deck. If you can't step outside, no worries, there are tons of breathing exercises you can do directly from your couch or work desk. Breathing deeply has been scientifically proven to help relieve stress on the body and in the mind. It also helps with body aches and anxiety. You can't be fruitful in a frustrated or anxious state.
2. RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO BEAT YOURSELF UP
Be kind to yourself. I remember a friend saying "Danni, sometimes I'm so mean to me. I feel so bad for me and how I treat myself when I feel like a failure." I could relate. The conversations you have with yourself are vital. There are going to be plenty of people who will be against you, don't join the club. Learn to love on yourself. Self love and respect is the beginning of true discipline. In these moments, discipline yourself to change your inner dialogue.
3. TALK TO SOMEONE YOU LOVE (Lift your spirits)
It's great to call your mom, your boo or best friend when you need a little pick me up, but there's no way that they can be there for you at every moment, or every second of the day despite their best intentions. As a believer, I find the most faithful of friends to be Jesus Christ. He's accessible at all times through prayer. Prayer is just talking to God. It helps me to focus in on Him and takes the focus off of my inadequacies. He is so much bigger than I am and reminds me that no matter how hard I try to control things, I could never face the trials of life without my Savior. I'm reminded every day, through His word that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that He has amazing plans and thoughts toward me that are too many to count. Becoming a believer and giving my life to Christ has been the best decision I've made in life and when I'm discouraged, its the only true thing that gets me through. (If you want to know more about this, please sign up and we can talk about it more!)
4. LISTEN TO MUSIC THAT SOOTHES
I LOVE music! It's why I chose to pursue it full time. Music is a tool that can be used to uplift. It can soothe, it can incite, it can encourage, it can bring you back to a specific moment of your past or make you swoon over your significant other. It really is remarkable the power music has. As a songwriter, when I reach a mental block I don't typically to go to listen to another song before I execute Steps 1 and 2. After these two, I turn on music that is either atmospheric (waterfalls, waves, night sounds etc..) or worship songs. Hillsong, Elevation Worship and Bethel are my favorites in worship.
Take a moment and write down your feelings as you're feeling them. This helps me acknowledge what the root of my frustrations really are. Transparently speaking, my issue is usually pride. I get anxious because I hate to feel inadequate or less than, even if theres no one around. I've even avoided situations and opportunities for growth based on my fear of "Looking a certain way." I had to ask God to reveal to me what the root of my issue was. 9 times out of 10, we're dealing with a specific insecurity that we've either tried to ignore or, we've grown to accept the insecurity as a part of us that we have no chance in conquering. Writing your feelings down can clarify this for you.
After some fresh air, encouragement, introspection and soothing sounds, I'm usually ready to get back on the horse. Even if it means taking a few days away from your art to clear your mind, that works too. But promise me that you won't let discouragement convince to give up. All of these steps have been extremely helpful for me as an artist and as a human being. My prayer for you is that you truly see how special you and your gifts are. That you'd understand your unique purpose.
Keep pushing forward in your gifts and be consistent. For everyone reading this, I hope this article can be a planted seed that will flourish in your hearts, so much so, that you would begin to see yourself as your Creator does and find His love in even the most hopeless of times.