Success is a moving target.
(Please also take everything I say as my own experience. It is for sure not a universal law. I am growing and learning and also 28 years old, be gracious with me.)
Here we go.... 3 years ago
The first time I walked into Barista Parlor (Nashvilles uber trendy coffee shop, super good), I pretty much felt like I needed to go buy a leather jacket, grow a beard, get sleeve tattoos, as well as a motorcycle, buy raw denim and then start a nonprofit as well as start a folk Americana band, that would then partner with the non profit I just started. JK JK JK. (I have a leather jacket now and also love Americana).
Literally it was like walking into the most chill vibez party and feeling like I didn't belong.
Everyone stares at you. (could be because the lighting is terrible unless the garage door is open but then its like staring into the sun). I really do like Barista.. for real. Go there.
I felt like everyone was trying to figure out who I was, if I was famous, if I was cool enough to sit with them...
As I would drink my coffee..
I would see Instagram and social media and see the highlight reels of everyones life.
Then I would go back to my apartment, bedroom studio set up, and feel so defeated.
I originally thought going out every other night and networking was the key to success. If I could meet enough cool people then surely I would find success. If I bought the right clothes, looked the part, talked a big game, I would find success.
I mean if your going out every night of the week ordering $15.00 cocktails then surely you have the money to spend and the luxury of sleeping it off the next day...........
I painfully learned this was wrong.
Physical appearances are deceiving.
These people were not successful. Maybe some of them... but most were just fronting success. Most were mislead. I don't blame them. I was there. It feels like your really accomplishing things when you have a group of people around you all doing the same stuff. All talking about what your going to do... who you met one time backstage, the hit song you wrote that morning. (please hear me, plenty of these types of conversations happen and they are great, theres always exceptions, and also we should celebrate things.)
I had to take a long look into the mirror and figure out what success was going to be for me. I had to look at the hard facts, the budget, the reality of being self employed. I had to start to put in the work, like REAL WORK. I had to figure out how to add value to people.
A number of my favorite people/clients in town who are successful in music and life are rarely found out at the bars or networking events. They have found their success in themselves, in their craft, in their family, for some in their God. They have found it by working 40+ hours a week and really investing into people and adding value where they can. They have found it by sacrificing more then you would ever know.... like seriously, so much sacrifice.
Success is different for everyone. I found it when I started to...
Stay in my lane. Do what I am best at.
I didn't find it at the bottom of a cocktail or the end of a studio session.
I found it within myself, within my craft, my wife, and my God.
For me, I stopped going out as much. I stopped going on social media for a period of time. I started to cheer on peoples victories. I started to find projects that I knew I was a good fit. I started to ask for help. I started to judge my success based on my own goals and what I felt like I am called to do in this universe.
Success is about becoming whole. Its about accepting who you are and then doubling down on that. Its fighting the envy and jealous, its going to bed at night knowing you spent every minute improving those around you and yourself.
Success looks like a lot of tears, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of hours in counseling, losing weight, fighting your demons, putting down the bottle, sharing your story, accepting where you are, spending hours on that last delay throw on a vocal, its the extra 10% no one wants to do, but its so so so necessary.
So I urge you to figure out what success means for you. Where are you and where do you want to go? The cool thing is, you can make the change.
I hope this helps.
This is my view of success at 28 years into my life... it will probably continue to change because even for ourselves, success is truly a moving target.