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Thing I've learned #1

Posted on by Elissa Mielke

As promised, here's the first instalment of what I learned in London.

1. Stop measuring everything! There is no way to measure how far up the mountain you have climbed. Be in the journey instead.

There is only progress, only growing. There is no forward or back- there is only climbing.

Photo: Thomas VanderZaag

You are definitely Beyonce.

You are definitely Beyonce.

It’s a beautiful day and you are climbing your mountain.
You are tired. You want a snack.
Suddenly all the doors open for you, and it seems every dream is coming true. Someone important has noticed your potential! A great label is investing in your development! Wow. This must be the mountaintop! You made it! 
You are Beyonce! You are definitely Beyonce.
Wait. Just kidding. (happy april fool’s day, etc).
This specific door is full of tricks; it's conditional on writing lyrics that give you the bad kind of goosebumps, agreeing to the next 4 years when you think you want something else, or dancing naked while riding a galloping horse (which sounds awesome so never mind). This opportunity isn't what you hoped. So you decide to get out. You step way from the door, (while the people inside tell you you’re crazy for walking away). The door slams. There you are, back on the mountain. Alone like an idiot.
At this point it is easy to look up at your mountain and say “Shit! Wrong choice! I have gone nowhere! I have failed! I am alone on a mountain of closed doors! I will hide in bed and watch [name of TV show has been excluded to save your respect for me].”

Warning: do not stay in bed all week. Sure, go lie in bed. But stay for just a day. Because if you pay attention after the wrong door closes, you will realize you aren’t on the same mountain at all. Every time a false start happens, your mountain is different, because you are different. You also know what you don’t want, and that’s progress.

As it turns out, you can be halfway up the mountain in some ways and simultaneously lost in a cave at the same time (i.e., great numbers at your shows, but you’re unable to finish a song you are working on).

So in summary, lesson to myself is this: focus on making something you are proud of, that brings you meaning, and stop looking at the mountain and figuring out how long you have to go. For me this means writing a lot in my little closet and not showing anyone what I made until it’s actually good. For someone else it could mean playing live even if you don’t feel ready. It’s so personal.

If you really love the mountain you’ve chosen to climb (your great love) you will never reach the top. You will find enough joy in the climb itself- because the journey is the best part.