This one's for the rejects 💔

Summer is racing at us and some of you have asked if I’ll be playing particular festivals this year. Or told me “you should play that festival! You’d be a great fit”. And I agree. And I want so badly to tell you yes.

Summer is racing at us and some of you have asked if I’ll be playing particular festivals this year. Or told me “you should play that festival! You’d be a great fit”. And I agree. And I want so badly to tell you yes.

But the fact is it looks like I won’t be playing a single one. I’ve applied for more this year than ever before. I’ve even paid someone to apply on my behalf when I couldn’t make the time. I applied for ones I thought were shoe-ins, where I knew I’d make little to no money, in hopes of getting my name out there and climbing the ladder. I’ve received a couple of rejections but mostly dead silence that is maybe worse?

I have an album coming out in a month and I’ve never been more proud of something I’ve made. I have a band who I love playing with and I think the feeling is mutual. We sound great. We are starting to channel something. I feel ready in ways I never have before. But it’s not up to me.

I would love to play festivals in the summer months. I love the community that happens. The discoveries. The collaboration. The euphoria that can creep in through exhaustion over a weekend pouring everything into what you feel you’ve been created to do alongside others who get it. It’s magic. Or I imagine it would be.

I’m writing this because it’s mental health month and I want to open up a bit about my own struggles. I’m doing well overall, but these rejections are rough. I get a little depressed. I feel hopeless. I question the amount of effort and money I’ve poured into this career. I question the money I spent applying for each of these. I question a lot of things.

I ask myself why others and not me. Which is a terrible idea. I wonder if I’m too old. Or not cool enough. Or don’t know the right people. Or if the right people don’t like me. Or if the whole bow tie thing is dumb and getting in my way. I wonder I’m too earnest and naive and dopey. Or if my awkward dance with Christianity is a put-off for people in the arts. Or if my awkward dance with the arts is a put-off for people in Christianity. Though that doesn’t matter as much to me these days. I wonder if I’ll always be trying to impress a group of people who don’t seem to want me as I am.

I wonder if it’s selfish to want the things I want when I have a great life and a family who love me. I wonder if I’ll ever be satisfied in this career. I wonder if I should try more drugs or grow a beard or wear a cool hat or become a Really Good Guitar Player.  I don’t think I’m capable of any of those last four anyways to be honest.

I’m just me

At its best, my faith told me that I was enough. That I’m made by a creator who loves me and I’m no accident. Knowing that saved me in dark times past when my self hatred and anxiety and depression were at their heights. It’s a hard feeling to summon at will - a hard thing to believe in my bones. But I was surrounded then by community who told me and showed me it was true. I think I still think it’s true. 

I know I’m loved. I know.

A life in the arts can be absolutely brutal on your mental health. There’s a long line of casualties to prove it. It seems like it might be getting harder to make a living but I imagine it was always a struggle because art making breaks you in ways money can’t fix. Please don’t let us fester. Ask us how we are. Make us leave the house. Make us laugh. We need to be around people to get out of our own heads. We need the cold water and the warm embrace of your real company.

Maybe something will still come up this summer festival-wise. Maybe I get a magic email tomorrow. Maybe something different will have been made possible by all the rejections. Maybe it’s just the game we play and I’ll try again next year and then … oh then! 

More likely, I need to learn to be content today (or else when?) To allow myself to be loved and love those around me because that’s IT. 

Hang in there friends. Apparently even Taylor Swift gets sad and lonesome.

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