I always wanted to be a singer/songwriter growing up. I listened to Taylor Swift’s first album on repeat in my room and admired her for playing guitar and writing her own songs. I naively imagined that when I was sixteen I would be just like her.
I got my first guitar when I was eleven and started taking guitar lessons; however, I never really got the hang of it after years of playing on and off. It’s been well over a year since I’ve picked a guitar up to play, but sometimes I still think I should give it another try.
It’s not like I gave it up because I was bad. I think the real reason I stopped playing is that I thought I would have a feeling of intense bliss, almost like an out-of-body experience, that I imagine real musicians have when they play. But I never did. And that’s ok.
Today, after having my first mental breakdown of the semester, I came to the realization that you don’t have to be an artist to appreciate art. You don’t have to make music to be healed by it.
After feeling so stressed that I wanted to scream, cry, and throw up at the same time, I decided to put on some music to make myself feel better. I immediately felt calmer and just lay on the floor for a few minutes, listening to Ryan Adams.
While some people find making music therapeutic, I find listening to it just as therapeutic and have a deep gratitude for artists willing to share their music with the world, especially when it’s so deeply personal. I realized that I have already had that feeling of bliss that I was trying so hard to chase. I have felt it while being moved by some of my favorite songs.
I’m not saying that you should give up on being an artist because it gets hard or because it doesn’t make you feel as good as you thought it would. I’m saying that you should realize when you’re forcing something that isn’t working and try to make your peace with it.
If you have to look for your passion, then it’s not really your passion. Your passion is something you already have to do every day to survive it. And it’s ok if that’s playing video games or reading poetry. It doesn’t have to be something that directly gives back to others. Your passion can be enjoying the product of another person’s passion. After all, musicians may find making music cathartic for themselves, but they chose to share it with you. To heal you.