Breaking Down to Break Through

I had a conversation with a friend the other night.

I had been feeling a little lost and questioning everything I was doing.

“What am I doing this all for?”

“Why am I putting so much energy into this?”

“What’s the point?”

In the past month since returning to LA from my month in the Bay (to recharge, realign, and get real with myself and my desires), I’ve been happy, inspired and motivated to get moving.

I felt loved. I felt supported. I felt encouraged and clear in my desires. I was growing. I felt challenged. I was becoming a better lover and communicator and beginning to set my life into motion to bring more income into my life, understanding how to not let money, limitations and fear hold you back — and also focus on what I love (the music, the brand, taking care of myself and focusing on my craft).

After a slight conversation on letting go and getting real with myself (I found I can tend to plunge into helping others before helping myself), things got real for me.

Just last week, I hit a wall and I broke down.

And it was very unexpected — I had been living my life happily and full of gratitude. I was working on my craft, creating more content, growing as a musician and surrounding myself with positive people and relationships to help my poor, lonely anxious heart. I was genuinely happy.

But perhaps that breakdown was just what I needed to realize something was still missing.

“In LA, it becomes so easy to make everything about money, especially in the music industry. It starts to become more ‘What are you doing’ instead of ‘How are you doing?'”

Becoming financially self-sufficient and secure has always been one of my biggest worries (especially as a young twenty-something girl living on her own). As a natural freebird, freedom lover and dream chaser, money issues have not always been my forte. I struggle with settling for a stable job, committing my time and energy into a set schedule and routine for someone else. I can also easily put all my eggs into one basket and give my all to a company or job that I neglect to focus on myself and my other goals — and because of that, I’ve been careful of where I exert my time, energy and passion.

I know how unhappy, stressed and anxious I can become when I am doing things that don’t necessarily add or fuel to my main goals — monetary or craft.

With that breakdown came a spiral of questioning my efforts to build my brand, my art, my craft, content and collaborations with other artists. I had been speaking with friends about building up sponsorships, collaborations and working with new content. But at the end of the day, my savings were depleting and I had nothing to add to it — and perhaps my energies toward building myself felt deficient if I wasn’t providing for myself in the long run (my hopes to build a steady income to support myself, my future family, and give back to my friends and loved ones).

That was when I was realizing what was the point of this all. Why am I allowing myself to struggle so much when I want to just be my best self — provide my gifts, talent, art, work and love unto the world and those around me?

After a three-hour long phone call with an old friend, an acquaintance of mine in Los Angeles who had been inviting me to his Tuesday Night Project open mic series for months had reached out to me again to attend that night.

I looked up the event. I saw it was a women’s empowerment night — and more surprisingly, I also saw Dia Frampton was on the bill (for those of you who have known me for a long time, you’d know how dear to my heart Meg & Dia is to me), as well as other pinay women doing good for the community (Astralogik duo, who I had been introduced to by Ruby Ibarra, as well as poet Faith Santilla).

Fast forward to earlier this week and that conversation with my friend.

I had been spiraling in confusion with my desires and focus, ready to plunge into something new. My friend and I had found ourselves at a cool little barcade in Echo Park (which I hadn’t been to since my overwhelming 25th birth-weekend earlier this year). As I sipped on that nice coconut milk porter and some vegan cauliflower bites and tasty wings, I poured out to him my confusion —

— and little did I know I would break down again, remembering and realizing why it is I do what I do all along.

“Seeing Dia was just really comforting for me, and it’s crazy that the universe kind of threw me just what I needed at that time,” I explained. “Her and her sister are kind of the reason I do all that I do.”

I started choking up.

“She even broke down herself, saying that her and her sister had spent 10+ years on the road playing music, and she doesn’t know if she’d even be a musician if it wasn’t for her sister. And they [Meg & Dia] were kind of the two older sisters I never had myself.”

I explained to him how Dia started talking about being in the music industry and how it’s so easy to make everything about money and how to make income from doing music.

“It becomes more ‘What do you do?’ instead of ‘How are you doing?'” I explained to him.

As a music manager himself, we had just discussed the culture of Los Angeles versus our homes in the Bay Area, and how it’s harder to come across genuine people here.

“They were the reason I picked up the guitar at 12-years-old,” I said. “At the time, I didn’t know that seeing two girls who looked like me playing and making music on MySpace and playing Vans Warped Tour would have such an impact on me — and make me believe that I could do it, too.”

Being able to share intimate moments with the band for over a decade, growing up with them, befriending their manager who would invite me over to his house and be able to speak with and see them regularly, was a big moment for me growing up.

I had spent a majority of these past weeks ruminating on the idea, slowly getting more creative, playing and writing with people. The fear would kick in from time to time (of course), and I realized that doing press, writing for other artists, shooting shows and photographing others was my “easy” route. It was something I felt safe and comfortable doing. It was familiar. It was comfortable. And I enjoyed it.

But there’s this “artist” in me, and I can’t shake or suffocate the feeling.

“Would you call yourself more an artist or entrepreneur?” an artist asked a music manager I had recently been working with said.

“I would say she’s more an artist,” he said with no hesitation.

After all my struggles of figuring out how to make “money moves” to forward and progress my work, art and self, I had to accept the fact that I sucked at it. My brain just does not think that way and I do not know how (learn how to leverage others where you lack, as a life coach recently told me as well). I am incredibly emotional — but that could also be my strength.

“Everything you do, you do with passion. And people recognize and feel that. It doesn’t even matter what the hell you do, people feel it and love it,” a dear friend back home recently told me. “Use that to your advantage.”

There’s a reason these breakdowns and realizations are happening. There’s a reason I’d call out to others for help, accept their help, put myself in new situations and realize things may not be for me — learning more about the music industry, the complexities of management, the budgets and costs, setting up lists, email chains and distribution, playlists, etc.

“I’d figure this would fit you,” my friend said to me that night at the barcade. “You seem like such a friendly and outgoing, personable and social person.”

“I’m very much introverted,” I laughed to him. “I suffocate without my alone time and time to recharge, as much as I enjoy connecting with others.”

But that’s just what I like to do — connect with others. And perhaps I need to do it in the way I know best.


18 responses to “Breaking Down to Break Through

  1. I am rooting for you. It’s really relatable with what my friend and I are going through. I think the 20s are such a confusing time and a lot of us are lost. But you’ll be fine and it’s great you’re following your passion in music.

  2. Very powerful blog post. Know that I’m forever in your corner. I’m here to help and support you anyway I can. I believe u. Truly. And I will get back to you about sponsorship stuff just busy with stuff atm. Promise tho. Sending love. Infinitely.

  3. Hi Rachel! Keep working at it and things will piece together in time. I’m local to LA too and have a lot knowledge in sponsorships and marketing in the entertainment industry if you ever want to grab a coffee and chat let me know!

  4. “I know how unhappy, stressed and anxious I can become when I am doing things that don’t necessarily add or fuel to my main goals — monetary or craft.” This really resonated with me. As someone who is also trying to make a living from writing, I know all too well the overwhelming feelings of anxiety and sadness (and at times depression) when I am having to do a job that really doesn’t fulfil me or push me in the direction of where I want to be. I end up feeling stagnant and a failure, which logically is ridiculous. How can I be a failure for having a job that allows me to live!? Thank you for writing the above. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one.

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