When Old Identities No Longer Serve You

When Old Identities No Longer Serve You

**Disclaimer: I write some of my blog posts over the course of weeks. Others are the culmination of a few hours in a coffeeshop. This post is the latter. It began as a private journal entry before I realized that I would love to share it with others - creatives, in particular - to hear your feedback, your stories, and your perspective. Throughout the course of my life, my various identities have been both havens of safety and cages of discontent. This particular post depicts my “identity” as a musician and how it has morphed over time. Please feel free to share your own stories of the challenges and rewards of ever-shifting identities in the comments. Thanks for reading!**

I’ve been writing my own music since I was 5. I performed original compositions throughout high school and college. When I turned 21, I went to every open mic within a 20-mile radius and played ticketed shows. When I turned 22, I started organizing events, workshops, and showcases for musicians in Boston. And then, without warning, I lost interest in playing and performing entirely.

At first I blamed writer’s block. Then I blamed my busy schedule. But neither reason explained my utter disinterest in the art form that had once captivated my heart. Bewildered, I began turning down performance opportunities. Every time somebody asked me when my next show was, I felt myself blush and said, “I’m not sure - I’m taking a hiatus right now.” Inevitably, the listener would express disappointment, then good-naturedly encourage me to book something soon and keep playing. Their intentions were loving, but after experiencing hundreds of these exchanges, I felt nothing but pressure.

What was wrong with me? After all, being a musician was my identity: an identity I’d made public with hundreds of performances and Facebook statuses and a website.

But now, the identity that had made me feel seen, heard, and given me a sense of belonging felt like a favorite shirt that I’d outgrown. It felt like a cage.

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