I wrote my first song at eleven years old and carefully tucked it into an old empty shoebox, not to have it seen or heard by anyone else. For over ten years, I continued writing songs—all in private, all hidden in my shoebox. It wasn’t until I was 23 years old, over a decade after writing that first song, that I finally got up the courage to share any of my music with other people—better said, when I finally got up the courage to blossom. Buddhist Anais Nim articulated this process of coming into your own when she said, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
How do we move ourselves from keeping “tight in a bud” to blossoming, whether as an artist, a woman or a person? Here are a few lessons I learned along my journey as a musician, though these can be applied to blossoming in general.
The Benefits of Blossoming
When it comes down to it, blossoming is a decision. Sharing your true self with the world is something you must choose. When I make decisions, I like to simplify the situation into risks versus benefits. And like Anais Nim said, when the risks to blossom are smaller or less costly than the risks of not blossoming, you will choose to blossom.
What are the risks of showing who we truly are to the world? Some you may have considered are: Will they like me? Or in my case, will they like my music? Will I continue to be successful if I say or show how I really feel? Will I lose him or her as a friend? Will they make fun of me? I considered all of these.
Now let’s look at the benefits. If you can get to the point where the realized benefits outweigh the risks, you will be more ready to blossom. So what are the benefits of opening ourselves to the world?
In my experience, one really valuable benefit to sharing your true self with others is that you will get feedback. With my music, some of my most valuable positive feedback has come only after I made the decision to share my songs with the world. For example, after releasing my second single, “His Name was Jesus”, a professional singer who I look up to sent me a private Facebook message. She told me how well she thought I was doing, and she shared some priceless advice with me from her years of experience in the music industry. How would I have ever received that positive feedback and advice had I not decided to share my music in the first place?
Another one of my favorite benefits of being real with others and myself is that I have learned more about who I am in the process. Getting to know myself this way has allowed me to have more confidence in many areas of my life. As I put myself out there and began sharing my music with other musicians, I began to like my own music and my real identity more and more. I began to be proud of what I had come up with, and my desire to share it with more people grew stronger and stronger.
Surround Yourself with Support
Like I mentioned above, my desire to be my true self grew stronger and stronger as I simply began to do it. When we are struggling to be our true selves, one of the most logical things we can do is surround ourselves with others who are true to themselves. This is a starting point to foster our full bloom. That way, in the moment we finally have the courage to be who we truly are, we may be supported in our efforts and build further confidence to open up more.
Toward the end of my decade as an “artist in hiding”, I ran into an old friend from high school who I hadn’t seen in a few years. We realized that we were both working toward being more public with our music, so she and I began to meet regularly to share our work with one another. Eventually we wrote a song together, and eventually I performed that song in front of a small number of people at a backyard party. From there, I sought out a producer, recorded one of my own songs, released it as a single, and it now sells online. My friendship with this supportive and like-minded friend eventually helped me gain the confidence, little by little, to blossom.
Start Where You Stand
As I contemplated opening myself and my music to the public, one major roadblock for me was this thought: ‘”Why release any music now when my music could be better later on down the road? That would be embarrassing, and I’m not willing to do it. I’ll wait until I am a better songwriter.” The reality is we have to start somewhere. Let that ‘somewhere’ be right where you are standing right now. You are enough. It is no surprise that starting where we stand is a risk, but if we don’t take a chance, we may never know where we could have landed at the end of our journey.
Since taking the vulnerable leap of opening my songs to the public, I have experienced a fulfillment and happiness that I didn’t know before. Exciting opportunities have come my way that I could have never foreseen, and that could not have found me had I not been open and in full bloom.
I truly believe that the time to blossom is now—this day. Not tomorrow, not sometime, but now. If we approach every day with that attitude, we will, in our own time, bloom, or come into our own. Whether we are seeking to find who we truly are as an artist, or as a woman, or as a person, if we are patient with ourselves and strive to blossom in small ways every day, we will find that one day we are comfortable with who we are, and we will live with confidence and purpose.
Guest Post by Lizzie Langston
Lizzie Langston is an independent singer-songwriter from Mesa, AZ. She studied private voice lessons for over nine years, studied Vocal Performance while at BYU-Idaho, and currently teaches voice lessons in her community. In 2010, Lizzie served an 18-month mission in Santiago, Chile for the LDS church. Upon her return to the US, Lizzie graduated from BYU Provo in Family Studies and married her current husband, Abe Langston. In April 2014, following the birth of her first child, Lizzie began songwriting more regularly and released her first single, “His Name was Jesus”, in December of that year. After realizing that songwriting was a talent and a passion, Lizzie released her second single, “Reds and Pinks”, in February 2015. She currently resides in Mesa, is mother to two children, and is pursuing her first EP album with Tempe-based producer William Bradford.