I've been drawn to being an artist and creator for as long as I can remember. Somehow I've managed to make it to 2021 without discovering Bo Burnham, but I feel blessed that I finally did. Call it coincidence or divine timing, but I recently watched his new special "Inside" and haven't felt so inspired and driven to create in my entire life.
When I was a teenager I picked away at my acoustic and fantasized about being confident enough in myself someday to manage to do it full time. I used to stand in the exact same spot as the video above and act out how I would perform on stage while singing along to my favorite songs. I had no fear of playing coffee shop gigs in high school but knew that lack of fear only meant I should be setting my sights higher. Although I learned some valuable lessons studying and practicing music when I went to college, it did not provide the stimulation that my neurons needed to create sustainable pathways leading me into a fulfilling career.
It didn't help that I dropped out I guess, but it also didn't help that I went into studying music knowing full well that I didn't want a career that was dependent on me doing the same shit over and over anyway. The passion I've always had for creating comes from spontaneity, which is something you experience less and less as you try to mature into the portrait of an adult that has been set before you.
I spent the years after leaving college trying to prove myself to be a hard worker as opposed to someone who quits when things aren't going to plan. Somehow that still led me to quit every job except for my last one at a small Italian restaurant, where I was ready to sell my soul because I guess I was tired of feeling like a failure. I would have traded all the spontaneous inspiration in the world for less than a 6 figure salary and no benefits.
In 2019 I finally did something I always wanted to do and hired a personal trainer, because if I was going to be working a miserable dead-end job, I at least wanted to feel attractive in some way. The hidden benefit was that having someone checking in with me every week forced me to address the fact that my life was devoid of passion. I knew I had to start planning my escape from wage slavery and the service industry, but the initial problem was that I had no idea how to follow through with a plan that wasn't as cut and dry as "get a job to pay your bills" and I was afraid to feel like a failure yet again. Once we started to figure out what my plan would be, another problem arose: a fucking pandemic.
Talk about spontaneity though, right? Before I go any further, I don't want to come across as one of the white-washed spiritual gurus who dismiss the suffering of many in order to peddle some bullshit narrative about silver linings. It just so happens that I was on the brink of a nervous breakdown right before I stopped working at my restaurant job in 2020; I suddenly lost my dog to cancer and had my debt double within the span of a few months, and I was starting to convince myself that if things kept getting worse I could just end it all.
I didn't want pity then and still don't. All I've ever wanted was to be able to focus my time and energy on exploring my imagination and bringing my visions to life. That dream becomes impossible when all your time and energy is being prioritized for capitalism.
So while I'm piggybacking off the fact that a global pandemic caused a spontaneous shift in many of our lifestyles, I'm not happy about it. In fact, it's incredibly tragic that it took the risk of transmitting or succumbing to a deadly virus for myself and many others to awaken to the trauma we're enduring through capitalism.
I was pretty vigilant about calling it out during the summer of 2020 when I first had the time and space to actually process my emotions surrounding it. Posting rants and infographics on IG doesn't actually change anything though, so I came to the point of creating Peace of Mind Plug as my coaching platform, and the concept for Peace of Mind Makers came soon after.
Now that I've been working for almost a year on building these platforms, I've been able to inspire others to set intentional boundaries for their time and energy and reclaim their peace of mind. The fact that I'm doing this while still battling with negative self-talk like "nobody cares what I'm doing if it isn't profitable" is enough of a reason for me to believe that creating this vision is necessary.
It's funny to me that another spontaneous event - the emerging of Bo Burnham's new special - has opened a new door of my perception. Based on the triggering effect it had on so many other people who had apparently been numbing themselves instead of dealing with their anxiety and depression, I was initially trying to avoid it thinking it would bring up my unhealed wounds, which didn't seem appealing to an already uninspired artist going on almost a decade of burnout.
What I didn't realize was that I was numbing the pain I caused myself when I turned in my musician's library card for an apron and stopped actively caring about bringing my creative visions to life. Throughout watching "Inside" I felt the oscillating nature of seriousness and playfulness in the lyrics along with the performance aspect of having only a single room to let it play out pinpoint my feelings of inadequacy as an artist. It led me and at times forced me to realize that I've been trying too hard to be anything that everyone wants me to be all of the time. In doing so I was losing touch with who I really want myself to be.
As silly as it sounds, feeling like I could never create something that would satisfy everyone was a real and paralyzing fear that kept me from wanting to pour myself into creating music or pursuing any passion project. If I tried to take it too seriously, I would panic at the thought of not being seen. If I tried to treat it like it wasn't serious, I would panic at the thought of wasting my time.
Over the past few years as I've taken a break from wanting to create and have been building confidence in my abilities and value as a HUMAN and not just a "worker," I've been lucky enough to learn how to express myself through dance - another spontaneous intersection of circumstances that has been life-changing.
The time I spend dancing is so sacred because it still connects me to music which has always been the most powerful source for my passion, yet since it's so new to me I'm able to be fully immersed in the practice for its own sake, not for the sake of producing something. Whenever you see me share a video of myself dancing, it's a glimpse of me being at peace with who I am and my place in the universe.
I know that I can't be interested in everything all of the time long no matter how long I stare at the other people on this screen. Mindless scrolling with an excuse of feeling uninspired is the opposite of finding inner peace. Not every experience is meant for me and I'm not meant to experience everything. It's time for me to focus on what inspires me at the core of who I am and free myself from the bondage of needing views and engagement to feel worthy.
Although moments of feeling euphoric or at peace may be fleeting - like the seemingly spontaneous events that act as catalysts for change within our personal lives and our cultures - that doesn't mean we can't capture their essence and channel it to bring us back to our intentions.
Special thanks to Bo Burnham for reminding me to look for myself - I had been slipping away so quietly it was hardly noticeable.