Lately, I’ve been having an identity crisis. I think I’m starting to come out of it. It’s been a little bit rough but I can feel myself re-emerging. And I can feel myself emerging more sure of who I am than I have been in a very, very long time.
I don’t talk a lot about my family but having a close blood relative who’s a success in the music industry has really inhibited me throughout my life and made me feel unsure about who I am. I deliberately stayed away from music for a long time after high school and, when I finally returned to it after college, it was with a passion that was so strong it frightened me at times. It was less an urge to create and more a compulsion – a vicious need. What I’ve realized is that this intense need was connected, once again, to the question of my own identity. I was trying to create a new identity. I was trying to build one from the ground up. I gave this identity a new name (‘Roan Yellowthorn,’) I lost myself in visions of color and light, I was in psychic pain constantly for about 5 years, to be honest. It was a painful and powerful process of literally birthing myself.
I’ve been in this place, building ‘Roan Yellowthorn’ for quite a while now. And that’s where my most recent identity crisis started. Some things have shifted in my life, personally, and it’s allowed me to really explore my own identity, the one underneath, in a more free and full way. It’s been a time of tremendous growth. And, as I’ve felt myself expanding, I’ve been feeling that the expansion is pushing up against something. A limit. There was something in the way. This happened in tandem with a disturbing new feeling – that some of my fire for music had left me. These two elements in tandem were causing me to really question everything I knew about myself. Why was I feeling so burnt out? Why was my vitality feeling drained from my body? Why did I feel so bitter? Why did the future of my music career seem suddenly hopeless? There are ups and downs in this line of living for sure and I’m no stranger to those. But this felt different. It felt like a seismic shift. It rattled me.
I realized that this new identity crisis really started when I’d let go of something I’d been hanging onto for a long time. When I’d let go of the hope that someone in my life would be what I needed, when I released someone whose approval I once wanted very badly and thought I couldn’t live without. Without this to fuel me, I was suddenly left feeling very much adrift. I needed to find motivation to create, to make music, to dream and to move from… me.
And that led me to another question – who is me?
I realized is that I’ve been spending so much time creating ‘Roan Yellowthorn’ that I didn’t know who I, the one doing the creating, was anymore. It was a really scary feeling. That ‘I’ underneath wanted to come out. But how?
For a few days, I wanted to stop using the name ‘Roan Yellowthorn’ altogether and perform under my ‘real’ name. But what even is that? Is it the name I was born with? My married name? My first and middle name?
Although the idea of performing under my real name (whatever that is) seemed like a possible way out of my crisis as it would meld my two identities into one, it didn’t feel comfortable to me. I still felt that I needed a persona, a creation untethered from reality, in order to really feel free to freely create and dream. So where did that leave me? The issue was that the ‘me’ underneath, ‘Jackie,’ was feeling like she needed to break out of the chrysalis. And, at the same time, I wanted to keep that chrysalis intact for the time being for the sake of ‘Roan Yellowthorn.’ A safe, protected space. Maybe someday I won’t feel this way. Maybe I’ll perform under my real name someday. But, for now, I don’t want to perform as myself. I want to live as myself. I want there to be a separation between the performer and the person. And I want the person underneath to be strong.
I decided that I had to strengthen the ‘me’ underneath the persona. I needed to strengthen Jackie. I needed to let her blossom and emerge from the shadows. What does that mean? That means I need to write. That means I need to rest. That means I need to take breaks from the internet. That means I need to read good books. That means I need to eat real food. That means I have to drink water. That means I have to live a little more and manifest a little less. That means I have to speak about my experiences as myself. Process them as myself. Interact with the world. Own my truth and my life.
I’ve been working on doing this for a few days now and it feels right. As soon as I realized what I needed to do, I felt a peace start to re-emerge. I’ve been writing every day. I’ve been reading a good book. Since then, a lot of the pressure I’d been putting on myself has lifted. I feel that I can create for the love of the process a little bit more than before. I feel that I am enjoying life a little bit more.
This is not over. I think that figuring out my identity and strengthening it will be a journey that lasts for my whole life. But I’m feeling good right now. More vital. I’m giving some attention to the ‘me’ underneath the persona. I’m listening to who she is, what she needs, and what she has to say. What I have to say, whatever my name is.
And, hey, it’s right in time because we have a whole lot of new music coming out this year including a new studio album and a beautiful album full of rediscovered favorites. In fact, the first single from the Rediscovered album is out now! Have you heard it yet? Listen here!