You know, sometimes I walk dogs. Sometimes I drive Lyft. And sometimes I make up incredible excuses as to why I do these side jobs. One day it's because it leads me to deeper times with God, walking in the warm silence of the day; and other days it's because, as an artist, I need material to help me craft better songs. I can never be honest with myself or others and just say, "Yeah, I have a side hustle because my art isn't pulling in the cash today." Why? There are plenty of people that do these things for a full time job, and I swear, they are some of the real heroes of today. (Next time you climb into an Uber or Lyft, really take a moment to ask the driver what they do aside from this, you may be surprised at the answer you get.)
So, again, why can't I just own up and be honest about what is happening in my career? Maybe it's because of the facade of the Hollywood mantra, "Fake it till you make it." No, that's not it, especially because I wear my heart so far down on my sleeve you'd think it were in my hand to pass out on Halloween like candy. Really, it's because my pride swells deep up into my throat and spouts out anything else that may make people view me as a successful artist. And really, by most people's point of view I am a successful artist. I've had the blessing of working on a Grammy nominated album, traveled just about every continent (Australia, I'm coming for you), had a few top 40 placements on different charts around the world, and have collected the most incredibly inspiring group of friends I could have ever thought to be around, yet, I walk dogs and drive for Lyft, and that's ok.
Success isn't defined by how many awards I've earned, or how many endorsements I've picked up, or how many Instagram followers I've collected. Success is defined by what is in my heart every day, and in how I choose to carry myself regardless of what life is throwing at me. It is how I'm able to celebrate others that may have gotten the break I may never get, and how no matter what I do, I carry the same enthusiasm that I do in my artistic endeavors into whatever other work is in my hands. Heck, even Winston Churchill defined it as, "...going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."
So, why all of this? Well, I just want to encourage those who have worked endlessly for something that still hasn't fully taken off like you thought it would have. Maybe you just keep getting those buyouts instead of residual pay, maybe your work is published but right now you can only put it out there for free, maybe you're working multiple jobs because your art just won't quit, and neither should you. If you have a dream, a vision, a set destiny, then don't shelve it if you need to do something else for a while. Nurture it, take care of it, grow it, work that job but then come back to that passion daily. Don't let life and pride convolute and drown out your personal victories daily.
Speaking of drowning out, I will address one thing that has been tying me to the floor just about every single day. Age. There is a good chance that this could just be in my head alone, but I'd bet you that that's not the case. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with working in Entertainment, but I'm sure after our twenties are done plenty of people are stuck wondering if they took the wrong turn walking out of the house of adolescence. This is where I'd love to tell you historical accounts of people who are older "kill it" and succeed, but I don't think that's necessary. I think what is most important to addressing something like this is to help you understand that we are not alone, and it's ok to feel that way. You're not the only 20/30/40 something that felt like you wandered too far into something that may not actually be right for you, and you're not the only one that needs to be reminded that that thing you've been working on for years is still worth it. As generation to generation passes, we can see multiple accounts of people fearing "those that are younger", because they represent ultimately "those who will replace us", but that isn't the case. You were born at the right time, in the right place, to do exactly what you were placed on this earth to do. No one younger, and no one older can take that away from you. There is something poetically important to why you are here, why each of us are here, and it's unique for all of us and specifically our life journeys.
Now that that is addressed, back to dog walking and ride sharing.
I have part time gigs. Many other people have part time gigs. Those that are "extremely successful" (by regular standards) of course have stories that can be a similar conclusion met by multitudes of people who all have the potential, but just because you haven't gotten there yet doesn't mean you need to give up. Everyone's story is unique, and that includes yours. We are all humans who don't really have the deepest understanding of how to human correctly. Many of us still feel like juveniles wearing adult bodies, and it's ok to feel like you haven't figured it all out yet. But regardless of what job you have and however many unfortunate circumstances have landed in your lap, regardless of age and "not having arrived yet", regardless of that life that got side tracked because you had to put your family first, keep pressing on. Remember that success isn't defined by your follower number or bank account, but rather by who you proudly know that you are and that you are willing to say yes to your passions while taking care of responsibilities.
You are the artist and success you've always wanted to be.