Sometimes Pessimism is All You Will Feel

Credit: Rachel Brown Photography

By Stella Joseph-Jarecki (Enquiries: stellamusicwriter.wordpress.com)

Being completely honest, I haven’t felt up to writing motivational or optimistic opinion pieces recently lately. While I want Fever Pitch Magazine to be a place where tired and disillusioned creatives can come to feel a sense of solidarity in struggle, sometimes pessimism is the only emotion I feel.

And it seems hypocritical of me to preach transparency and a warts-and-all approach to this strange industry, without admitting to my own frequent periods of non-existent motivation. I’ve been mulling over this lately, looking for a catchy phrase to turn tiredness and disappointment into a motivational quote. But the truth is, a pithy quote doesn’t always exist. Sometimes pessimism is all you’ll feel. The music industry is a hard place to thrive for so many reasons: unstable budgets, frequent cuts, the challenge of believing in yourself as an artist, the limited number of jobs… Admitting that is not weakness. It is realism.

The concept of the versatile portfolio musician is a well-known one, and one born from necessity. Most people simply aren’t able to make music performance their full-time career path. We must accept that frequent compromises are needed to survive, unless we have the luxury of a trust fund. But we can take a leaf out of Bear Grylls’ book: adapt, improvise, overcome.

And there are many positives which can come from abandoning the rose-coloured glasses: in looking for work outside of your original blueprint, you might discover a new passion. Many people stumble into the world of arts administration, having had no pre-conceived ideas of entering the field. It is a fascinating world in of itself, and certainly not some sort of consolation prize for failed performers. But sometimes fantastic opportunities will look nothing like you imagined.

So how can you conquer these period of feeling flat, restless, unmotivated, angry? If you have to wait for it to pass, that’s what you do. You take things day by day. Speaking from my own experience, it is so easy to get bogged down in that state, and to feel too tired to try new things. My advice is to find an activity that gets you out of the house, something that forces you to concentrate relatively intensely, but something that most importantly you find enjoyable. It’s a great thing to get your brain firing in an area that is unrelated to your career or main creative pursuits. I’m going to try some adult ballet classes, and rejoice in having absolutely no ambitions in ballet except improving my posture and strength. Other ideas could be taking up hiking, martial arts, painting, sculpture…

During frustrating times it has helped me to remember that ‘the only way out is through’. No matter how much it may feel like it, you have to remember that you are not stuck. You are in motion. It may not be pretty, but you can use your uncomfortable, disconcerting, murky periods of self-doubt to figure out why you feel that way.

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