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