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Lean In

I am always searching for the right words—and sometimes, the search leaves me at a standstill. I would rather wait patiently for the floodgates to open, than to force out the little drop of inspiration that I saved in an old mason jar in the back of my pantry. Usually it’s not a long pause—when I was younger, words used to float by me and strike like lightening. Maybe it was because there was less to worry over, or maybe it was because I was too distracted to think of anything else. Whatever the case, I wait.

This wait was a drought. In the past couple of years, I became so frustrated that I dreaded showing up to an early morning write, a co-write, and even a page—because I felt like an imposter with no more ideas to give. When your entire life is built around ideas, it slowly starts to pull you apart when the inspiration fades. And honestly, I could feel it. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression my entire life, but I’ve always believed that inspiration was an outlet and not a filter to sift through those struggles. Worst of all, my panic was already at an all-time high as I was hustling at my job, irresponsibly over-committing to every gig and work hour, and trying to understand what it meant to see friends, family, and fellow musicians crumble in a pandemic.

It was devastating. And consequently, it took all that I had to slow down and admit it to myself.

“It is in the knowledge of the genuine condition of our lives that we must draw our strength to live and our reasons for living.” – Simone De Beauvoir

I remember walking into the studio for the first time in four years this summer and being genuinely terrified. My husband can attest to this, but the day before was a mish mash of panic, anxious cleaning, and neurotic task mastering. All attempts to distract myself from how I really felt: trapped by insecurity and feeling the burden of mediocre ideas.

And despite what I felt, the day was exhilarating. I came back home that night feeling refreshed, and still overwhelmed by the weight of anxiety sanctioned off for the “next time”.

Isn’t strange how when we self-sabotage, we go for the exact things that we love the most?

Pursuing things we love. Going out with friends we love. Taking time to spend a moment cultivating some self-care. Cooking. Walking. Reading.

All the above felt like chores to me, and there are days when they still do.

I want to pause to take a moment to address anxiety. If you are in this space, you are not alone. I recognize that my journey may not be even a brief reflection of your own journey with a mental exhaustion—whether anxiety, depression, or both. If you haven’t sought out help, I hope you will. Everyone needs a little (or a lot) of therapy. You deserve to find space to cope, grow, and live through it. And I can reassure you from the depths of my soul, you are not alone.

If it’s not obvious enough, healing has been a long process. The wake-up call for me was watching my ideas sizzle, in the most opportune time of my career. Thank God that however many times I resorted to self-sabotage, nothing has been sabotaged at all—in fact, I’ve had the most beautiful live show experiences, studio afternoons, and post/pre-production sessions. In a season of complete emotional breaking and weakness, I’ve watched a miracle unfold.

And I feel responsible, more than that—inspired to lean in. Finally.

For the first time in more time than I’d like to admit, I was interrupted yesterday by a song in the middle of a practice session. I immediately dropped everything and scrambled for my phone to find the voice memo app, and let it pour out. And after a silent breath of awe, I cried.

Don’t worry, it was the happy kind.

I can’t even say it’s been a season of no ideas; it’s been a couple of years with no inspiration. But even in the drought, as you’re watching the world around you shift, turn, and collapse—the story is slowly, beautifully, being collected. The well is filling to the brim, as the experiences gather in a myriad of recollection.

We all have so much more to give.


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