Eyes Forward

“Fix your eyes forward on what you can do, not back on what you cannot change.”
Tom Clancy

One thing I am so grateful for is to be part of a fantastic composer community. When I launched into composing as a full-time career in Seattle, one of the first things I did was join the Seattle Composers Alliance. There I met many great composers who became dear friends. Their generous sharing of knowledge and their friendship played a great part in helping me become the composer I am today.

When I moved to LA I joined the Society of Composers and Lyricists, became an active part of the Academy of Scoring Arts, an administrator at SCOREcast and attended the LA Scoring Salon as often as possible. I also met composers through my PRO ASCAP. It is such a blessing to have these talented peers and mentors in my life. However……

(Get ready for the big “but” people, because here it is!)

Comparison.

The timeless art of lining up your actions and achievements against that of your peers and inevitably falling short. It is such a killer! You are doing your thing, working away, and then you see that tweet or that facebook update of a peer. They are excited to share with you the movie they just landed, their game that is now on Steam, the award they just received, or the red carpet they just sashayed down.

Suddenly what you are doing seems pointless. “Why isn’t that me? I should be doing something like that!” you say to yourself. An hour or three later you realize you have just spent a big chunk of time worrying about your direction and consequently you have not only wasted time, but you now feel depressed and are so paralyzed with fear and regret that you don’t want to work anymore. All hope of productivity has left the premises and you are now feeling useless.

You know what I am talking about, right? Tell me you’ve been here…

Comparison has always been a killer, but in the event of social media I think it is even more challenging to avoid. I spend more time than I should on Facebook and Twitter and in that time I cannot avoid seeing all the accomplishments of my fellow creatives. I try my best to be happy for them. They are, after all, awesome at what they do and absolutely deserve success when it finally finds them. So: what to do?

Click Like. Favorite that tweet and move on. Keep your eyes forward, my friends. Remember that your story is unique. The way you find success will likely be very different to the path of your friends. The question you should be asking is not “why aren’t I doing that?” It should be: “What is my plan?” “What are my goals?” “Am I on track to achieve the taks I have outlined for myself?”

A healthy question to ask in response to seeing the success of your friends is “If I want to get to that point, am I taking the appropriate steps?” Spend time reevaluating your path. Maybe walk through your progress with a mentor and receive and utlize their feedback. But then move on.

Eyes forward, my friends. Keep walking your path. Acknowledge the fear rising from your belly. Breath out the anxiety, breath in some fresh air, and get to work.

Catherine Grealish is a composer for film, games and anything else she can get her hands on. She is currently scoring the feature-length doc The Art of Walking Barefoot, the horror short Red Red and the video games Ancient Aliens by ZeroPoint Studios and The Hole Story by Learn District. Find out more about Catherine here.

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4 thoughts on “Eyes Forward

  1. oh yes been there. Too many times.

    finally decuded that i needed to give and not measure or I’d curl up and stop. Own plans are good. Buddy system up when one can – even better. Pick a buddy that will stretch you.

    And if al lelse fails remeber a prophet is never understood in their own country – witness kate bush. takes a special kind of stubborness and vision mixed tp push forward and do innovative work as well.

    “slow and steady, wins the race”.

    hope you’re keeping well. I’m in a hellish job and my personal push is to reduce the hours cos otherwise I am literally going to keel over. focusing on that is a challenge but needed. The job would become less hellish if i achieve teh goal, so that is waht ai am aiming for.

    Good to hear from you, facing forward.

    xx, Mariellen

    ate: Sun, 14 Sep 2014 20:28:47 +0000 To: mariellen_romer@hotmail.com

  2. Hi Catherine,

    I’m experiencing a version of this myself at the moment. I’ve been at the cinema where I work full time for almost 3 years (in 2 days it will be exactly 3 years!) which is longer than I originally planned to stay. However, I’m not in a place in my life where I’m ready to leave. I still have so much to learn about music composition before I’m ready to take that leap of faith and pursue becoming a film composer. But lately I’ve been finding it hard to stay motivated because 90% of my work colleagues are now leaving the cinema for bigger and better things, inline with the career they want. I’ve found myself thinking the exact thoughts you mentioned, so it’s been really helpful to know that I’m not alone. Instead of wallowing in self pity, I should be happy for my colleagues/friends and continue working hard on my music studies. That way, in a years time, hopefully it’ll be my turn to bid farewell and move onto better things.

    Aaron

    • Aaron, thank you so much for this honest response. I think your words will help many people. Hang in there. It is so important to make the move when you are ready and not before. I think your decision to stay the course is so important and will be crucial to your success. LOoking forward to hearing more about your journey as you progress! Cheers, Catherine

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