photo by Erin Donnelly-Vollbehr
This month marks a year that we have been signed to our label, Blue Elan Records. In this year, I feel like I have ‘leveled up’ as an artist. The biggest change has come from feeling seen. Feeling validated. Feeling like I am legitimate because there are other people outside of my immediate circle who believe in me. That feeling is priceless.
If there’s something that I’ve learned, it’s that confidence is half the battle. Actually, it’s probably more than half. At any rate, it’s important. When you believe that you can do something, when you feel like there is a tide of support around you, when you feel like other people want you, it increases your confidence. You are able to do so much more.
When you feel wanted, when you feel loved, rejection doesn’t sting as much. When you feel wanted, when you feel loved, rejection doesn’t make you want to quit. When you feel loved, when you feel wanted, the rampant rejection that comes with trying doesn’t feel like a blow you can’t recover from. It doesn’t feel like an authoritative judgment. When you feel wanted, when you feel loved, rejection, indifference, and doubt are just kickballs to be dodged. They are not cannonballs made of lead. They don’t hurt so much. They’re just part of the game. They can be batted away. They add color to the landscape.
Before I was signed, I felt mired in doubt. I still have those days. And, the more I connect with other artists, the more I realize that everyone has those days. It’s part of the journey. But those feelings are not my baseline anymore. When I was mired in doubt, it was never about whether or not I thought I was good enough. I knew that I was. And I think that the fact I was able to get signed to a record label in LA from my house in upstate NY is a testament to that confidence. I knew that I could do it. I was absolutely confident in that. What I wasn’t confident about was whether anyone else believed it.
That’s the tricky part about being an artist. You do art for yourself. Because you have to. Because it helps you process the world. Because it’s a compulsion. Because it’s necessary. But you also crave validation from the outside world. You crave a sense of being seen. You crave acceptance. You crave community. You crave the feeling of being wanted.
When Kirk Pasich of Blue Elan Records responded to my cold pitch and said that, yes, he wanted me, it was the beginning of a new era for me. I had never before felt that level of external artistic validation. It made me feel like I was finally sailing with the wind at my back. I was no longer fighting against the current. Like I was wanted. In terms of my development as an artist and as a human being, that validation has been invaluable.
It is important to feel wanted. I might argue that, for the fragile temperment of an artist, it’s even more important. But not everyone will want you. The scores of email rejections I get every week are a reminder of that, not to mention the even larger proportion of emails that never get a response. The challenges to the psyche of this kind of artistic entrepreneurial work are real. You do it because you believe. Because you have to. The rewards keep you coming back – an opportunity, a connection, a ‘yes.’ These are arrows in the dark that reach you and remind you that you do exist. That you are being heard. That you can connect to someone else. That you are wanted. Not everyone will want you. But someone will. Perhaps many someones. And they will make all the difference.
Because music is so important to me, I made this special Thorn & Yellow playlist for you to listen to while you read this blog (or anytime). Enjoy <3 (and follow!)