Lately (or perhaps always) I’ve been experiencing a lot of confusion about what I’ve been doing. A lot of that stems from me trying to fit in the idea of what I do “into the rest of the world" and have it be this “defined and accepted” thing. But what has been adding to this notion of “struggle” lately are my old influences.
When we’re younger, we have our collection of influences that drive us to be the people we want to be. Whether or not it’s celebrities, bands, the people in our social communities; we draw influence by those around us. Those impressions these people leave on us when we’re younger move us to form paths and destinations in our lives.
Lately, I’ve been quite heartbroken about the recent events of two of my idols. Going way back to when I was 15 I was a huge fan of heavy metal. More specifically there was a band called Machine Head that released this album called “The Blackening”. At its release it was the “biggest thing” since sliced bread. One of those albums that people in the scene were head over heels for and just thought were incredible.
As an angsty teen into “independent” things, I was really inspired by the success this band had. They had this “we won’t compromise what we do for anyone, and we’re going to be ourselves, and no one can stop us”. I was very inspired by this mentality and mindset. The fact you could have true independence in your individuality and be able to work in a creative medium of art full time was incredible to me.
From this mentality, it then shaped me to make sure that I would pick a career destination within creativity with it being “on my own terms”. This immature mindset of “I won’t be controlled, and I will have the freedom to be myself”.
When I was studying design, I came across Seanwes. At the time he was a trendy lettering artist that promoted all of these lettering education courses and seemed like a brilliant businessman. Seanwes had this podcast that had really changed my life. Seanwes was saying things that “broke away from the norm”. He was encouraging designers to start businesses of their own and encouraging independent careers. As I was someone who was inspired by "taking control of their own destiny", I really gravitated towards what he was saying. It was refreshing, new and eye-opening.
Within this podcast, he would offer a lot of business advice as to how to go about building an independent career in a specific and particular way.
Over the last month, two bits of heartbreaking news had been revealed. The first being that my childhood heroes Machine Head have announced that they would be breaking up. And Seanwes had admitted to going through a deep and dark depression over the last two years.
For me, this news was heartbreaking for two reasons. In the context of my childhood heroes Machine Head, these reasons I admired this “independent” mentality now seemed “unsustainable”. Their reasons for breaking up was due to “personal differences”.
Lately, in the heavy music scene, a lot of bands I looked up to when I was a kid are frequently breaking up. All though it might be my presumption, I feel the most significant reasons these bands are breaking up is due to the sustainability. Nowadays in the current musical climate where there’s less money to be made, and the overwash of hip-hop monetising the whole musical industry-a lot fewer people are interested in “heavier music”. Meaning there's a lot less of a potential market meaning there's a lot less demand.
This thing that formed my identity as a younger kid and just gave me so much hope; now appears as if to be this frail and dwindling prospect. A prospect that might not even last and has no promise of a lasting future.
As for Seanwes; the last two years had been really tough on me as well. I felt I was drifting away from my friends and was ultimately feeling so unhappy and dissatisfied within myself throughout everyday life. Seanwes was very encouraging of working “as hard as possible” 24/7 and to keep “pushing, pushing, pushing”. Such things like “if you’re not getting the results you want then triple your output”. This fed into this mindset in my head that “I’m never good enough and I need to work 24/7 because I’m not ever going to be good enough”. Such unhealthy mentalities like “the road ahead is a mountain of work, and I can relentlessly keep chasing, but I’ll never reach the destination”.
When he announced that he was facing a dark depression and went into detail as to “why he was depressed” gave me so much clarity as to why I had been so miserable for the last couple of years. I don’t want to sound disrespectful as he is still someone I incredibly admire, and the guy is under enough pressure as is by revealing his vulnerability. But I felt this notion of “being let down by my heroes”. This sense of being lead up the wrong path. This sense of being walked down a path of “false promise”. This sense of being lied to and being inspired by something that wasn’t ‘real’. My career pursuit for me was in hopes of fulfilment and happiness. With the principles my idols were “spilling out”, and the fact he wasn’t in a positive place himself both within his business and mental health was horribly disappointing. Only because I felt like I was under the weight of depression myself and I felt like my habits were pummelling me deeper into neglecting my mental health.
If I’m sincere, I feel this notion of “no longer believing the religions I previously had faith in”. I think from what’s been revealed, and the hardships my idols have faced has honestly made me question the life I’ve been ‘going into’. I've been heavily questioning the life I've been building for myself.
It makes me see the fault in my idols and the things I want to avoid in my own life. I still have all the admiration and respect for my heroes, but I really don’t want to walk down the same path and make the same mistakes they have. I very much want to learn from them.
I feel this is why it’s incredibly important when taking advice in being cautious and thoughtful as to what works best for you, instead of going all in on new things you’ve just heard. I feel this is why it’s vital to have an extensive amount of influences. That way you’re perspective isn’t narrowed down to one key set of influences, you can have a broader perspective thanks to multiple mindsets.