The first bit of this personal essay will likely come across super emo, so I apologize ahead of time.
Everyone keeps telling me that I'm going to be just fine. My peers have given me every sort of moral support. Small, sweet compliments like "remember me when you're famous" texts pop up now and again. I don't think the phrase, "you've got this" has ever been as present in my life as much it has been these past few weeks. I've even been called "employable" by many, which is probably the greatest compliment there is for a recent college grad. Isn't that all we want to hear when we receive our diplomas? That we're the type of person who will be able to find a job and make money once we leave school?
So far there is no job, no money, and worst of all, I want to be an artist. I apologize to every teacher and professor I have ever had.
I should clarify, as I am no painter. I have been songwriting and performing for several years now, and am in the early phases of putting together my first legitimate EP. I believe in these songs, even if they are too amorphous to reciprocate the feeling. On top of that, I've recently found myself interested in pursuing roles as a voice actor or narrator. I suppose any medium that allows me to use my loud mouth interests me. Now I have to figure out how to actually make a living doing this nonsense.
Two weeks ago I gave a d'var Torah, or a speech based off of that week's Torah portion, at Hillel's Shabbat services. Coincidentally, the portion included the story of Jacob's ladder, wherein Jacob dreams he is witness to angels ascending and descending an endless ladder to the heavens. As he watches, G-D himself tells Jacob that he will beget a nation and that they will be a chosen people. In other words, Jacob wakes up in the middle of the desert believing he is to become the father of a lineage as numerous as the stars in the sky; aka, the biblical equivalent to this Jacob attempting an arts career in 2016 from scratch.
Obviously the most of my pressure isn't coming from any intense attachment to the biblical character who shares my name. Most of it comes from an internal drive to spend my time doing what I love, and an unhealthy need for independence. Tomorrow morning I will wake up in my childhood bed, in my parent's house without a gig in sight and I will sigh. I will make sure the house is empty, or at least that everyone is awake, and begin screaming at myself in the mirror. Then I will begin the process of tidying up my cluttered mess of a room to start turning it into a tiny recording studio for my work. Then I will scream into another mirror. If Monsters, Inc. were a real thing, they would have interns following me around for the next few weeks.
The topic of many of my conversations over the last month or so has been that of disappointment. I don't like to complain about my personal grievances much, but when true disappointment hits after you barely miss out on a job you've been applying for since your freshman year, or one of your best friends writes some pretty anti-semitic stuff online, or you realize you're more qualified to run a small youth group than a television segment... yeah, it can be tough not to complain just a little bit.
There have been two personal benefits grown from all of this disappointment though. Why would I be writing about it if there weren't? This isn't tumblr, guys.
1. A moral lesson about letting people comfort you.
2. An earnest sense of urgency to create.
What the hell is "a moral lesson about letting people comfort you"? Think of it like accepting a compliment, except instead of a compliment, it's big hug or an "it's gonna be okay" or any genuine, legitimate support from your friends and family. I am bad at accepting both compliments and comfort from those around me.
By no means do I believe taking every "it's gonna be okay" to heart is a good thing, by the way. When things are clearly not okay, you should never convince yourself they are. You should always strive to get out of the bad and into the "okay" with as much of your willpower as you can. No one wants to be content with misery. That said, I feel as if I have taken each hug with a grain of salt; like each embrace was the world attempting to smother me rather than show me affection. If I have straight-up disregarded a compliment or any kind of support from you in the past, I now understand the harm of my actions and I apologize for them.
I am unbelievably lucky to have had the support system I did in college. Even when I was falling on my face in an attempt to "build my brand" or just get a simple internship, I had seasoned professors and kind co-workers looking me in the eye and telling me I was going to be all right. At the time, it was easy to get frustrated when somebody would offer up that support, as their words weren't matching up with what was actually happening. In retrospect, those moments were for stitching up any fresh wounds the job hunt had left me with and I'm eternally grateful for them. There's a good chance I would have emotionally bled out without those moments.
The urgency to create is a little more direct and easy to explain. I graduated with a degree in journalism and little-to-no interest in pursuing a career as a reporter. Now the only thing in the way of spending all my time writing, recording and honing my craft is myself. I have a roof over my head and I'm less than an hour outside of the greatest city in the world. I have musical friends and coffee shops to practice in. To take this opportunity for granted would be taking a gun to my own foot.
The urgency simply comes from that need for independence mentioned earlier. The last thing I want to be is some deadbeat 25-year old in his parent's basement promising that the next record is going to be the one while part-timing at the CVS. I want to get working immediately. If that means living off ramen in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn or L.A., so be it. I just refuse to do nothing.
With a degree in my pocket and a clearer mental image than ever of what it is I want to do, I slide back into my childhood bedroom and attempt to make something old, brand new.