For the longest time, I believed I wanted success because I loved music so much that I couldn’t imagine spending time any other way. At the ripe young age of fourteen to twenty-five, success meant millions of followers, selling out stadiums, and an adoring fanbase hanging on my every word and movement. Accepting anything else was settling for less or not dreaming “big enough”. I was the person who thought, “Oh. You’re happy where you are with your eleven-person audience? You’re not dreaming big enough, darling. You’re not willing to work hard enough.” I pride myself on being a nice person so seeing that in words…I can already feel my scrambled eggs chugging back up my throat. What a shitsicle, am I right?! Oh yes, I do mean me. I am the shitsicle. And this shitsicle was chasing fame and fortune, not success and happiness.

Rewind back to TIFF ’16. I had gotten tickets to a concert documentary of the man who started it all for me; my idol, my role model, the artist who kickstarted my soul into realizing music was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I wanted to meet this man, see him perform live for the first time, and tell him how he changed my life. When you have an epiphany about your passion, everyone remembers that one person or event that was the catalyst to everything. He was mine but you know that saying, ‘Never meet your heroes?’ 

I watched him sing with a smile on my face, I waited in line for two hours to meet him, and I got to shake his hand. The moment was here but the only word that came out of my gob was, “Congratulations.” I left with an autograph on a postcard and a picture with ten other fans alongside him, both of which I haven't seen since. Seeing how people ogled his family and how they treated him the way you would take a picture with an animal at the zoo, I felt empty. As quickly as this man showed me how badly I wanted all of this, it disappeared just so, leaving behind what I really wanted with my life sans the distraction of fame. I wanted a creative life and career. I didn’t want people to be fanatic over me, I wanted them to be fanatic over my work. So, that very night, I went home and took down every photo or video that had my ugly mug front and center (of course that mug is larger than life in my post photo but I got sunglasses, that only makes me half a hypocrite). What I didn’t know at the time was that this was the start of a healthy and much needed change in my life.

Don’t get me wrong, dreaming big is still part of my daily life but the overwhelming expectation of these far-in-the-future stretch goals had me frozen like a deer in headlights (random PSA: hitting a deer is terrifying and dangerous so please be careful when driving between dusk and dawn in a deer-populated area). What I thought was laziness was my anxiety reacting to the unmanageable expectations I’d put on myself. What I thought was a lack of motivation was my heart telling me that I was caught up in the destination rather than enjoying what I loved. What I thought wasn’t ready was my perfectionism not letting me see that I needed to make mistakes to get to the person that I knew I could become.

In this year long journey that I’ve given myself the time and permission to live, I’ve realized that I loved the rush I felt when I read articles about success and how I could achieve it. I loved scrolling through my social media feeds and seeing beautiful pictures of work other people were doing because it gave me unproductive hope that I would be creating work like that too. I loved being able to tell myself that the pictures I saw of people online was not what real life looked like but secretly holding it against them for having a perfect life anyway. I was caught up in this romanticized version of life, this fantasy of what I wanted my life to be rather than finding the magic in my daily struggle. At the end of the day, struggle isn’t sexy. The triumph and success is. It’s so easy to get swept away in imaginary triumph while I avoid trying to attain my own but you know what? Real life versus a romanticized life can be just as beautiful. They don’t have to compete.

So, in hopes of keeping my sanity, the Anonymous Hustle series is my attempt at shining a light on my journey rather than my destination. Whether I achieve my dreams or not, I wish I could tell you that I did and that it’s everything I thought it would be so, y'know, you have something to look forward to but I think that’s the beautiful quirk of it all. I have an opportunity to romanticize the struggle while I’m still anonymous in the eyes of the public. To be perfectly honest, I’m still not sure what all this entails so you’ll be growing alongside with me and maybe, some of that growth will rub off on your life through pure internet osmosis. Then, then, THEN, our beautiful, fulfilled lives will be forever entwined in this enigma that is li – I have to stop before I lose you forever. Crap. Stay with me, friend! What I meant to end with was, let’s celebrate growth with our daily successes instead of holding out for this lit-ass, red-carpeted, caviar-drowning celebration to acknowledge a penultimate achievement where we’re not even sure what it really looks like or if it’ll make us happy (unless you already know in which case, do yo thang, honey). Why wait to be happy when you could be happy now?

Until next time, stay bold and beautifully weird.

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