This last week has been really difficult and also strangely beautiful. As Mark Kozelek says, “This is a complicated planet we’re on”.

My uncle took me surfing yesterday in Malibu. It was my first time surfing and I thoroughly enjoyed being out on the water. It was exhilarating but also peaceful and centering. Afterwards, we went to breakfast and talked about life and family. My time with him left me feeling hopeful and excited about the future. I feel very fortunate for my family and I’m trying to make a more conscious effort with those I love.

I’ve been mulling over what to do with my life and music next year and here’s one option I’m considering:

There’s an opportunity for me to share a recording studio space with some folks in Oakland. I’m not quite sure if I would be approved, but I know it’s at least a possibility. This would allow me to hone in on audio engineering/production and it would also give me access to everything I need in order to produce my own music at my own pace. I was thinking that if I spent one or two days a week at the studio working on music and production, then I could work four nights at some fancy restaurant and also go back to school part-time. The bay area is expensive, and the studio rent would definitely add to the expense, but this is still something I’m seriously considering.

I’m preparing for the release of my new single and feeling slightly trapped. It’s been a while since I’ve had to pitch my music to blogs and playlists and develop a release strategy. I woke up this morning to an email from a blog declining to feature my song and I’m embarrassed to admit that I totally spiraled into the person I’ve been working so hard to grow out of this last year. I started comparing myself to other artists that this blog features. I felt insecure and full of anger and humiliation. OVER A FUCKING EMAIL. Let me explain.

After a long hiatus, I’ve become more active again with music. I returned to social media, I’ve been playing the occasional gig, and now I’m starting to release more music. And I thought I was ready. I took so much time and I tried to separate my identity and my self-worth from my music. But I don’t think I’m ever going to be ready. It seems that one can’t outgrow emotions, they can only learn how to deal with them. So the email this morning showed me that the work is far from over! The capability to handle rejection is a must when it comes to music. And I need to always come back to this: I love songwriting and I love creating. That’s the bottom line. If I’m doing it for anyone else, I will get swallowed up.

There’s a lot of gray area between “successful” musician and just pursuing music for a hobby. Every path is completely different. I’m trying to find my balance, my path. And I suspect my journey will be long and slow and interesting and full of surprises! The trick is to set healthy habits and short term goals, while maintaining a flexible mindset with no expectations.

Ashton York