When a person decides to “become a musician,” I wonder if they’re really ready for what that means. With all of the YouTube stars and American Idols running around these days, I find myself in a weird place. Mainly, from the outside looking in. I see the monumental success that some of those people have had and while impressive, I worry about how sheltered these people have become and what kind of fall they will endure should they ever have to (heaven forbid).
When I decided to be a musician, I don’t think I was fully prepared for the kind of rejection I would face on a daily basis. And before we go any further, let’s be clear that just because someone is occasionally passed over, that does not degrade there skill, talent or worth. That’s a common misconception and a dangerous one for anyone who is pursuing an art.
Truth be told, I thought becoming a musician was going to be “easy”. How naive. I thought, at worst, I’d cut my teeth for a few years but still be able to support myself full-time and be comfortable. Needless to say, that was my biggest mistake. Three years later and I catch myself thinking that I haven’t progressed at all and that I’m still fighting for the same shows, desiring for acceptance from the same people and still working to prove myself to an audience that really couldn’t care that I’ve sacrificed a huge portion of my life to music.
Obviously, that’s a bit extreme- but the sentiment is there. In fact earlier this week, I was sent an email essentially saying that the annual gig I’ve played for the past two years and I have always felt a vest interested in has decided to pass on me as a performer. While frustrating, I understand that nothing is a guaranteed. And instead of getting angry, I’ve decided to work harder.
But I wonder what it’s like for people who rise to meteoric heights in industries based on mass acceptance without encountering a good deal of resistance. Reject develops character and resolve. It reinforces the will power that a person already has to stand up every night and be judged by people who know nothing about you. Ironically, Bitter and jealous musicians say things like, “They don’t deserve fame because they didn’t have to go through the club scene to get to where they are.” While I don’t subscribe to that thought, there is definitely a ring of truth in that statement, at least in terms of working through the struggle of being a musician.
I don’t want to discount the struggles people have whether they are better off than I am or not. But personally, I’m glad to face rejection and sometimes, I welcome it as a galvanizing tool in life. It’s not only natural, but it is essential for developing into a well-rounded person. Anyone who doesn’t face rejection on a regular basis needs to put themselves into situations where they will. Besides, it makes the successes all the more sweet.