This is a long one but if you're someone like me it might help to know that you're not alone.
Lately, I've been thinking about a few random tweets that I saw. One of them talked about the shelf life of online media and how because of how the internet works the general perception is that most things only have a day and once that day is over, that's it. I didn't really notice it myself but even I got myself in that line of thinking.
The internet is such a powerful tool that allows a nobody like me to share my work yet at the same time it's so oversaturated with everything that it's hard to get eyes on it. I feel like this was part of the reason why I was so hesitant to even share my work. I used to think that my work isn't good enough to be seen but that's clearly a lie I tell myself because I can't admit to wanting people to see my work.
Deep down I do want to have a presence online. I've been avoiding anything social online for the longest time because I didn't see any point in it. I played a lot of multiplayer games but never bothered to really make any connections. I don't want to do this for any fame or any possible monetary incentive by having someone pay me to do work. I want to show the world that I'm actually decent at something in my life even if it bears no fruit.
The second tweet was about trying to out-do yourself in every project you work on. It's not necessarily a bad thing to want to improve in your craft. I think that any self respecting human being should know that but like the previous tweet it can also lead to a very deadly trap. The point of the tweet was to not compare your previous works with your current ones since that's it's own can of worms but the tweet did bring up some other thoughts in the back of my mind.
When I entered college I knew literally nothing about music other than how to find the notes on the staff. I could barely play the piano, I couldn't sing and when compared to everyone else in my class I felt worthless. So from the very start of college all the way to the end I really pushed and pushed myself to learn (even though the quality of my education was garbage). I would spend days just studying, writing and practicing that I eventually was able to be part of the lucky few who still stayed in the music course. Unfortunately by doing this lost something very important. I've forgotten why I entered music in the first place.
Every day I worked trying to push what I could do and in the end I've stabbed myself in the back. After graduation I've completely lost the drive to continue what I love. I made a bunch of bad decisions like not taking certain offers and even taking offers that I wasn't in the right mindset for. Now here a year or so into quarantine and it's really killing me.
I was talking to my friends recently about my thesis and how I really struggled to create that thing. That thesis was the culmination of everything I've learned up to that point. I spent several weeks nonstop working on it while also juggling other required subjects. I had days where I didn't eat because I was working on it OR I didn't eat because I had to save money to pay for printing and paying my artist friends who helped out in that department. By this time in my college life I was already burned out and whatever was left of that spent candle was thrown into the incinerator. While I wouldn't say the effort put in was worth it, it did come out how I wanted it to be so that's one way of looking at it.
I think the final nail in the coffin was a situation involving my at the time, best friend. Truthfully I don't even know why I'm writing this here since I don't even want to bring this up with my other friends about this. I feel it's important to mention because I feel that this is a very real thing that has its own repercussions that lead to the current mental state that I'm in right now.
I had an argument with this person. This was right in the middle of my thesis so there were a lot of things on my mind already. I went to his apartment to just hang out but he made a very insensitive joke at my expense and I didn't take it very well. I normally put up with his bullshit no matter how bad it got but for some reason this one just got me. I soon left the apartment and he did his usual tantrum sending text after text of dumb bullshit at me. While I won't go into the nature of what these texts were, the last one was probably the most extreme one he's sent so far. At that point the bridge was finally burned.
The next few days I tried to keep things together but when he tried to message me back I just couldn't forgive him this time. We've had a long history of him being a complete piece of shit and I would just put up with it. At the time I didn't really understand that being friends with this person was a bad thing so I just rolled with it. I didn't have any super close friends so this was about as close I as got. He messaged me out of the blue one day and I forgot what he said exactly but all I can remember was me giving up and refusing to remain friends. I soon lost contact and that was the end of that.
So now not only did I have the rest of my thesis to finish but now I had to deal with that whole situation causing distress in the deepest depths of my skull.
Thus came the day where I had to present my thesis to an audience. The requirements for the thesis was just 3 songs and during the performance I had to show a music video for the first one and play the other 2 live. While I wouldn't call it an embarrassment, I didn't perform those 2 piano pieces very well. I choked and botched my intro and I forgot certain parts of it. (truthfully as I write this I'm smiling because it's just funny at this point.) I finished my set and went backstage and out of the theatre to be greeted by my other friends. I fell down to the floor laughing but deep down I was sad and angry because it didn't go as planned, nothing ever did.
For someone who tried their goddamn hardest to improve and improve and improve only to fall flat on their face at the very end really sucks. From that point on music just felt empty and lifeless. I would try to compose something, I'd goof around in FL Studio trying to study a certain technique but it wasn't the same as before.
After my thesis I had one more semester and it involved on the job training but I was so drained that I failed a semester for the first time and and to go do it again. I'm not very close with my family but I knew they were disappointed. On the re-try of that last semester my professor sent me work and I did it to the best of my ability but I couldn't even submit it to him because I was afraid of what I had made. I used to submit my works with pride this time I just couldn't. I limped my way to the finish line with nothing but sadness and regret.
I told myself that after college I would take a 6 month break then continue trying to build a career in music. Those 6 months extended way past its deadline and I turned down opportunities for work outside of music because I just couldn't do it. The corona virus situation hit and all of a sudden I had a real excuse to keep my distance but it's still an excuse.
After a year of staying indoors I had a lot of time to think about everything leading up to this point. There have been so many ups and downs that are just too much to go in detail. I've slowly been getting back into the swing of things and I've been slowly recovering from about 4 or 5 years of the troubles.
I've had the time to replay a lot of old games that I enjoy (partly because I can't afford new ones) and even listen to some old and new music that deeply inspire me. A friend introduced me to the Ace Attorney Franchise and it's quickly become one of my all time favorites. I never knew how much I would enjoy being a fictional defense attorney.
If you've been reading this and have been thinking I've been a sad sack of shit from start to end then I would like to happily say that that was never the case. Yes I did feel everything up there and it impacted my life but I'm not the kind of person to keep a frown for very long. I've been told recently that I'm a very optimistic person even if it might have been a joke and I somehow found pride in that statement. I feel like the worst of it has passed and it only gets better from here.
I'm not the best person in the world. I'm most certainly not the best musician either but I feel like it's important to look back on my failings and reflect heavily so I can do better next time. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's been through something similar. Some people might have it better or worse and if I can do my part to help others avoid it completely then it helps me feel just a little bit better going though this whole shitshow. Give yourself time and know your limits. It might seem like a good idea short term to really go as hard as possible but that just means you burn out faster and harder. It's clichéd but when people say that life isn't a race it's fucking real man. You really need to go at your own pace to not die. Try your best but take it slow trust me, this whole thing is not worth it.
This little Newgrounds post gets a lot out of my chest because I've wanted to write something like this for the longest time and I just spontaneously decided to do it now. Unlike twitter or even soundcloud I can just write a bunch of bullshit and throw it into the abyss. Once I fully recover I can start throwing new music into the abyss. As long as it's out there I'm gooooood.