If so, it's an expensive ass hobby
The ugly truth behind "don't quit your day job,"
An astrologer told me in 2012,
“You will effect change in a lot of people.”
“With music?” I asked.
“No. Music will likely be frustrating for you.” He paused, “Are you a writer?”
“Maybe you will write songs for other people.”
Really? Was he backpedaling? Do I even believe in astrology? Because the truth is music had taken its toll on me, 33 years in the making. On my bank account, my mental health, my physical health and more. The lengths I have gone to play music.
I don’t care if you wanna call it a hobby. That never really bothered me. Well, until I played in a band with someone who abhorred hobby-ists, “weekend warriors” she used to call them. I was fine with it, until then.
Then I grew a complex. I developed this belief that in order for it to be real, I had to be “successful” at it- whatever that even means. I cannot even tell you how long it has taken me to undo this toxic way of thinking. I am still undoing it to this day.
Not to mention, how artists are treated. I mean, its great if you create, for fun. But, “don’t quit your day job,” right?
The message is convuluted at best. On the one hand, don’t do it unless you’re going to “do it till the death,” as she used to say, or “don’t quit your day job” what everyone else tells us. I swallowed both these messages whole. And basically did both. Kept my day job (well my business- I work for myself as a therapist) and did it till the death.
There’s a space between hobby and being a professional and that’s the space I have come to find. My coach calls this being a reneissance person. I didn’t know what Renessaince persons even were 2 decades ago when I started playing in bands.
My old band mate said, “I’m a writer first, not a musician.” She no longer plays music. That makes sense for her. However, I internalized that message, that calling oneself a musician was somehow pretentious. Even though, I’m a musician first. I started reading music at age 7. Call it what you will. I am a musician first.
The bandmate who fed me all these negative half-truths would eventually quit the band and leave music all together* But, I persisted. For better or for worse. And, I guess, I do it for the love of it. It’s a labour of love. I would love to be successful at it, whatever that means. And, well, according to the astrologer, I won’t be. If success means something only few attain then we live in a culture of failure and I’m no longer falling for it.
My follow up book to Cheers to Queers is going to be about embracing this idea, the renaissance person in you. in me. in all of us. (I need a good title for this book- I’m open to suggestions!) and the redefining of success as we are in the world now. Succeeding at things people never thought possible. Capitalism’s definition of success is narrow. And Capitalism is sooo last season.
My friend and colleague another therapist/musician Pam Shaffer interviewed me for her podcast Why Not Both - a podcast where she interviews artists with more than one passion. She believes we are all multi-passionists. Listen to the episode here.
Bottom line: Don’t believe the hype and bullshit about being hobbyists, or quitting your day job. All of these messages are meant to hold you back, hold you down. Like I believe it did to my bandmates*
And, of course, when choosing which message to listen to always consider the source.
*Note: I have had many many similar messages from many people in the music industry. This is just one example from one person but she was not the only person by far. I believe this messaging is rampant. Not one person is to blame. Our greater systems at play, such as the patriarchy, capitalism and toxic masculinity are ultimately to blame. Do it to the death, or don’t, but let that be your choice. Not theirs.