Success is Overrated

For the past several months (years maybe?), I’ve been reading a lot (and attempting to implement) about how to better promote myself and market myself and network and all the weird Silcon-Valley-etc-online-entrepreneur mumbo-jumbo that goes along with that. Some of the folks that do it seem to get along fine with it but I’ve decided that I’m just… done with it. I’m not interested anymore in trying to convince others that what I’m doing is worthwhile.

I would much rather just write music and share it with my small group of friends and family, some of whom care and some of whom don’t. If opportunities come my way, of course I’ll take them, with all the gratitude and enthusiasm they deserve. But I’ve been struggling with the idea of self-promotion ever since I started really trying at it (and before that really). I haven’t even been trying that long, but I’m looking down the long road it’s taking me on, and the road doesn’t look all that enjoyable to me.

I don’t dislike people; on the contrary, I sincerely cherish the company of my friends. I don’t dislike meeting new people; meeting Matthew and Gordon from the Beards, Cats, and Indie Game Audio podcast was a really exciting moment for me, they seem like genuinely kind people, and I look forward to the next time I get to talk with them.

I do, however, have some pretty nasty social anxiety that can make getting out and going to events difficult, especially when I don’t really know anyone there. Even when I do know people it can be extremely overwhelming. I have a hard time remembering names. I don’t know what to say or what to ask. My mind goes blank. Sometimes I don’t even get that far and I get overwhelmed before I even have a chance to leave my house.

Whenever I’ve researched how to deal with this, the advice given is generally “Get over it.” Which is not particularly helpful. I’m all about self-improvement, but I’m pretty happy with the way I am when it comes to this, and I’m happy with where I am in my life. I don’t really want to “get over it.”

I’m a fan of comfort. I don’t go to parties often. I seldom go out to shows. While all my friends move to Seattle, I look forward to the day I can settle down and buy a house in Bellingham, what next adventurous day job will come my way. To many, I suspect that “adventurous day job” is simply not in their vocabulary; a day job would mean being held down, the death of adventure, a lifeless world of adulthood. But I cherish the idea of going to work and making the most of it and coming home and watching a movie with my wife, or reading our respective books together in bed, and, when I get the time, playing with friends, putting out some music, and seeing who connects with it.

This doesn’t mean I’m abandoning my dreams: I will continue to write music and put it out into the world in various forms, and I’ll continue to look out for opportunities to write music for other projects (games, films, other musicians). I’ll probably (maybe) (kind of) be trying my hand at other forms of art as I gain the confidence to do so, and I do hope that it connects on some level with those that interact with it. But I’m not going to play the self-promotion game anymore. Maybe someday I’ll have the resources to hire someone else to do it for me, but I realized recently that it’s not something that I enjoy, and the kind of “success” it brings is not something I’m particularly interested in.

In my mind, I liken it to a more desperate form of dating: going out and actively trying to find someone to marry. That’s what I’ve been doing. Some people enjoy playing the dating game. I’d much rather just do what I do, be myself, sometimes meet friends, but also be comfortable, happy, and guilt-free staying home with myself. If I happen to meet “Success” somewhere down the line, then so be it. But I’ll be happy and at peace, too, if I don’t.

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