The Pressure Of A Second Album

by | May 16, 2022 | Personal Writing


Despite my declaration that “this writing for fun thing is just an experiment guys. Don’t judge me, k?

Here I sit. Knowing that because I have already written one post, there is suddenly a measuring stick that exists.

“Will this post be as good as the last? Will I receive as many comments? Will people still be sending me messages telling me how much they loved it?”

And I wonder if this is why so many second films and second albums are just a bit, well… sh*t?

Because the creators are suddenly not able to produce FREELY.

They have set a precedent. A standard.

They have created an expectation in the minds of their audience that they now have to either meet or exceed, otherwise be left with a disgruntled audience posting sh*t about them on Facebook.

And with this pressure to perform, my fragile Ego inevitably wants a slice of the action too… moments like this are what she lives for, right?

It’s only downhill from here Becky. People nowadays have no patience you see. You produce one dodgy piece of work and dasssss it! There are a million other creators out there who are better than you. Just quit now, k? Do not subject yourself to the humiliation of being mediocre in a world where you can be excellent, if you just try hard enough.”

For me, this whole conundrum is living proof of the necessity of what Tara Mohr talks about in ‘Playing Big(great book – highly recommend).

She discusses the importance of unhooking from both Criticism and Praise.

And I’m almost certainly going to merge this idea with others that I’ve heard too here… but the long and short of how I have come to understand this concept is this:

If your work and ultimately, your very existence, is only worthy when other people say it is, then you’re handing the keys to your happiness over to the ever-changing, unknowable and fickle whims of other people.

And it will never end well.

Especially if you have an identity as the ‘over-achiever’.

And I defffinnnitely have aspects of this that live within me.

I’m your classic Good Girl.

Straight A student, (except for that one B at GCSE level, which my step-dad will never let me forget…) I’ve never done drugs, and always got great feedback in both my academic and professional career.

And historically TERRIBLE at dealing with failure.

Flashback to when I was learning to play the guitar.

I’m sitting my Grade 4 Classical Guitar Exam… and I’m choking.

My mind is fuzzy and I’ve gone into full-on panic mode and I can’t remember a single thing about how to play the instrument that’s clutched between my sweaty palms.

Initially, I had just wanted to learn to play the guitar because it seemed fun.

But to learn the guitar, I got lessons. And with lessons, came exams.

And with exams came the opportunity to be marked as either a success or a failure.

And as I’m sitting inside the Room of Judgement, my worst nightmare is coming true.

I’m failing and I know it.

The examiner is trying to take it easy on me.

For the theory section, he’s giving me the simplest questions that even someone who hadn’t spent weeks studying and practising for this very moment could logically work out if they applied a bit of brainpower.

But at that moment, the only thing that I know is that I’m failing.

And as someone who has never really failed at anything before, I have no idea what this means for me.

Will I get in trouble? Does this mean my parents have wasted their money on me? Does this mean that every moment I spent plucking away at these plastic strings in my bedroom without an audience was meaningless? Does this mean people will see me different and treat me different because I’m not the girl they thought I was?

I fail the exam. I silently cry in the back of the car, the entire way home.

And a week later, I quit playing Classical Guitar.

There is a tonne of lessons I can extract from that story, but what I want to leave you with is my current definition of success and failure, formed over many more years of incidents like this.

And for me it’s not about results, it’s about intent.

It’s the difference between choosing to live a life that is ‘expressive‘ versus one that is ‘performative‘.

It’s whether you place more importance on how something feels for you, versus how it might look to other people.

Only one of these, I believe, leads to true happiness.

And only one of these, allows you to release a second album that doesn’t suck.

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