How can I say that I know the true answer to this question? I can only say what I know from experience, and what has helped me along the way so far. The very definition of who you are, what you are... it changes day to day, every hour, every second. All of those changes make it so hard to figure out life itself. After all, the concepts and ideas we attach to and use to represent ourselves - even those keep evolving and renewing themselves.
I want to start with an example of my own. I used to define myself so very closely with music. From the latter half of high school through college, I almost lived and breathed it. I was recording songs and practicing whenever I could, thinking of melodies and pieces of lyrics as I walked from place to place, dreaming of where all this would get me.
I kept thinking of where music would be taking me, and why I needed it. Only after I arrived in Tokyo and experienced what it would really mean for me to enter the music industry, along with many other factors - it changed everything. Little by little, my interests expanded and my concentration in music thinned out a bit. I no longer felt such a strong push in that direction. Or, maybe it is a sad part of growing up.
The other day, I received a comment over a Facebook that said, I know you're quite into your blog these days, but we would really like to see more new videos/music from you. And reading that comment gave me a sudden pang of guilt. Even when I don't have the chance to be very responsive sometimes, I do read and keep up with all comments. I know that especially for music, those who start to let their updates lag, who let large gaps of time fall between new material, tend to lose the interest and support of listeners/viewers. Knowing that, I sometimes asked myself why - why am I not recording and posting videos as much anymore? I didn't want to look any specific reason in the eye. It was too complicated, too much trouble. But as I thought about it recently, I realized the answer was simpler than people might think.
I thought of how much I used to love listening to J-pop back in the days, and all those old artists who had gone on or were still on hiatus. Why had it been necessary for them to go on breaks, especially those at the height of their careers?
There must be so many reasons. But for my point of view, I simply think that to "do music" as an artist, to really go for it, takes everything. I found that I had to be ready to sacrifice a great deal - my creative freedom, my ability to upload freely, some of my principles.. basically, some core portions of who I was. At a great fork in the road, I went with my gut, my vague but resounding intuition that told me to take this way instead of that. And now, the choice has become a part of who I am.
Don't get me wrong - I don't mean to say that I've given up on music forever. I still love music dearly and am endlessly grateful for all it has given me, more than I can even begin to explain. I know that it was necessary at that time in my life, to bring me to where I am and who I am now. I just accept that I don't think I will be living on music and making my income from it. After all, we gotta eat and pay the rent (and in my case, keep up that full-time working visa). With that realization, I gained a great deal of freedom - to let myself go in the silence, which was once swarming with voices that always told me to go go go, find a record company that will support you, get signed, become an artist. Freedom to breathe, explore, and swim out into an even wider ocean of possibilities. It's scary letting go of a lifeline you thought would tow you to the promised land. But it's scarier to let that line tow you away blindly to a land that wasn't at all what you truly wanted from the beginning.
So to answer lightly to that comment back on Facebook - thank you so much. I am really very pleased and honored that my music still stands out to you. But I'm being sporadic with updates on the music front, and dabbling in photography and blogging and other pursuits, simply because I have been cut free.
And I am not depressed about it. I am not looking back or regretting.
I am, simply -
Even as the seasons pass so quickly that they take my breath away - spring, summer, fall, winter, repeat - I call on everything I used to be and appreciate it, from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you, music, for being such a fervent and passionate part of my life. Thank you for being here still, ready to leap out of my soul and paint emotions in the form of songs again, without notice.
Thank you, reading and writing, for having been there since elementary school, for having kept me company through the dark and light, for giving life to so much thought and meaning.
Thank you, photography, for recapturing my heart and showing me that there is still so much to be done, to be captured and expressed.
Everything, everything is a part of me.
So even you, dear reader, even if you might not be doing what you used to, what you thought you would, or what you should be doing - it doesn't mean all is lost. Being yourself is all about exploring, improving, and moving on to the next step. Not regretting the past or being afraid of the future. What's the use, when there's already so much to do right now?
Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and let that breath out.
Then look up at the sky.
You are who you know you are inside.
You'll come across opposition, those who don't believe in you, and those who might try to beat you down. They might say you're too much of a dreamer, that what you want isn't even possible or worth it. That you should stick with something solid, something that makes sense.
But if you let them kill the hopefully whispering voice inside of you, that's when it's all over. That's when you lose who you really are, and become just what others paint you as.
No expectations from the others matter as much as your very own.
You see, this is your life to live. And this is your time to explore, to go after exactly what interests and inspires you at the moment. Of course, live responsibly and pursue those inspirations in a way that's sustainable for yourself (that's why I'm currently balancing a full time job with this blog, photography, and other pursuits, as I have since I came to Japan - this explains partly why my updates and responsiveness level can be rather sporadic, although I wish it weren't so). It doesn't matter what the pace, but what's important is that you don't give up. Keep doing, keep growing and learning. Allow yourself to explore and expand, rather than staying static and stuck upon what you used to know as yourself.
I know, it's never easy. But that's what life is all about - an onward forging road of finding yourself. I definitely don't have all the answers, but I am okay with that. Things do get better, as long as you keep trying. Please keep believing in yourself, no matter what anyone else says.
Thank you for reading this, and I hope it will be of some help for those who are lost,
or who have ever been lost.
P.S. Hoodies are really comfy and warm in December.
Outfit: Hat and Pants - Zara, Hoodie - Abercrombie & Fitch
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