I published an article on Medium today, talking about the importance of listening to your gut feelings when facing important moments in your life. You can read it below or on the Medium site.
One year ago today I was in Los Angeles, bunkered up in the guest bedroom of my apartment, hunched over my computer maniacally redesigning my website, trying to finish ahead of the release date of my debut EP All We Are. I was panicked and stressed, ignoring my loved ones, and unsuccessfully fighting off the feeling that everything was about to go wrong. In short, I was a mess.
I’ve come a long way in the past year. I discussed a lot of that in a previous article on Huffington Post, “What To Do When Your Life Get’s Flipped Turned Upside Down.” But there’s more to say. In that moment I was feeling let down and betrayed by the label that had dropped me, and I’d lost faith in my advisors’ ability to guide the next phase of my career. We had decided to release the record independently, and I didn’t like the way the rollout was going. But I was biting my tongue and rolling with it out of a backward sense of obligation — A feeling that I owed my team the chance to see the release through, because they had stood by me through all my BS with my label. But in truth, I didn’t trust them anymore, so I was second guessing them at every turn, and being a huge pain in the ass. Every fiber in my body was telling me that this was going to fail and that I needed to hit pause, reassess the situation and reboot the record launch. But I ignored that feeling and kept things rolling, convincing myself that if I just worked hard enough everything would turn out fine.
So there I was, working 20 hours a day obsessing over unimportant shit, thinking I could overpower a bad situation through hard work and force of will. But I wasn’t being real. You can lie to yourself about a problem, ignore it, try to work around it, whatever you want. But it won’t work. You’ve got to trust your feelings and you can’t be afraid to act on them and change up whatever it is that’s bugging you until it feels right.
I know because I’ve ignored my instincts before. Like the time I got married. Leading up to the wedding I knew deep down that we weren’t ready. And this wasn’t cold feet stuff, it was bigger. There were fundamental flaws in our relationship that we were just leaving unresolved — we would have a big fight and then sweep it under the rug. So I wasn’t feeling great about the wedding, and neither was my fianceé (now ex-wife). She was having mini-breakdowns about all the decisions that needed to be made around the wedding, and in those moments expressing deep uncertainty about our future together. And her uncertainty only fed my internal uncertainty. She would say things like “maybe we should just cancel the wedding,” or suggest we push it back, but instead of saying what I felt (“yes, you are right”), I felt like I had to be strong. So I would just reassure her and tell her it would be fine, even though it was clearly going to be anything but.
The day before the wedding, our friend who was supposed to perform the ceremony got called to sing at a family funeral in south Jersey and told me that it was going to be a struggle for him to make it back in time, and that we should probably figure out an alternative. But I brushed it aside and told him that I wasn’t going to worry about it, if I just put my faith in the idea that he would make it on time, then he would make it. Didn’t even tell my fiancée about it, because I was afraid she would call the whole thing off. Everything about the situation was saying “hit pause and reconsider.” But I shut my eyes to the signs and kept pushing forward. I had to prove them wrong. The next day, as he anticipated, our friend wasn’t able to make it, and deeply embarrassed and shamed I had to break the news to my ex. We didn’t get married that day.
But you know what, it actually was fine. We decided that with our friends and family all there, we would just have a party and enjoy the day. So we did that and then we went to City Hall the next day and had a ceremony there. Yes, things didn’t work out between us, and it was for all the same reasons that we thought it wouldn’t work out. But it wasn’t because of the wedding, and I don’t regret getting married. Because even if it was the wrong decision, sometimes you’ve got to make wrong decisions to learn how to do right.
Back to the beginning — what happened with the record release? As I feared, it didn’t live up to my hopes and dreams. The record came out, but The Pitchforks and Faders of the world didn’t mention it. The KCRWs of the world didn’t play it. It didn’t make it into a single playlist on Spotify. And I was kicking myself for a long time over how it all went down, filled with regret. But now I’m ok with this. Because sometimes you’ve got to make mistakes so you can do better the next time around. I needed to go through this to re-learn the lesson: TRUST YOUR FEELINGS, MATTIE. Don’t ignore them, don’t dismiss them, don’t argue with them, don’t reason around them. If something doesn’t feel right, stop, figure out why, and fix whatever it is you need to fix until it feels right.
You can only lie to yourself for so long. In the end, you’ve got to be real.