Regaining Inspiration to Make Music

For the longest time, I’ve struggled to create and release music consistently. This pattern is not due to me losing interest in rapping. If anything, I’ve only grown to respect the art form more as I’ve continued writing poetry and music. Instead, I blame something else for my lack of content and inspiration for several months: a distinct lack of time to create and develop my ideas. I overbooked myself again this semester, despite the many signs in my life to step back from excessive responsibilities. 

Usually, this would be when I would mention how Oberlin has somehow taken up all of my time and capacity for mental exertion. Surprisingly enough, I do not blame most of this on the College. I haven’t been doing any direct labor for the College recently, like participating in Student Senate or working as an Admissions Ambassador, as I did for many months. Initially, I planned out this semester with only two jobs and two other extracurriculars in mind. 

However, I have an addiction to trying new things and an insatiable need to prove myself. This jack-of-all-trades tendency, combined with perfectionism, often leads me to undo all of my self-care work. I’ll start a semester with three or four obligations, but then I’ll see a play that looks cool, like Antigone, and audition. I then swear that this will be the last time I do this to myself, before repeating history in a matter of weeks. I follow the pattern so closely that my partner has become concerned about my well-being (while also acknowledging that they warned me about this possibility). You would think I’d learn after a certain point, but sadly I’m too ambitious for my own good. I admittedly get plenty out of my many activities, but new experiences do not always outweigh current stress. I’ve gotten slightly better at maintaining balance with more time at Oberlin, but I still have a lot to learn. For example, I stepped back from the bowling team, but that was only because I did not have the time to attend practice. I enjoy bowling immensely, and the benefit of having one less thing on my plate has not outweighed the loss I feel from dropping bowling.

While having less time to create music and poetry has not been ideal, it has revealed a valuable lesson. Not all obligations do or should hold the same weight. As much as I would love to, I simply cannot be in a million places at once. Attempting to do so — and not understanding my limits — has stopped me from being at my full potential. I would rather be superb at a handful of activities with more room for fun than dipping a little into every trade. As such, I am documenting a promise to myself here that I’ll hopefully keep. I promise to have no more than two jobs and two other obligations at a time moving forward. Sometimes extenuating circumstances make it so I’ll need more money than usual, but I will also try to predict this whenever possible. 

I’ll conclude this week’s article with a bit of encouragement for artists who have found themselves in a similar predicament to mine. If you truly love your craft and feel its healing presence whenever you create something, then no funk like this one should stop any of you. Despite my dwindling mental health and finite time and energy, this funk could not stop me. I released a new song I recorded within the past few months called “Recipes” just last week, and I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback. I’ll also be performing a few songs as an opening act for Solarity later this month. If you’re an artist worth listening to, I fully believe that people will wait as long as you need for the creative process to happen. After all, legends like Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean are intensely celebrated despite rarely dropping music. So whether you can’t find the time or motivation to create, I implore all of you not to give up. Holding out for the right opportunities is bound to pay off if you put in the time and hard work.