The truth is that I never really had it, my mind, that is. I didn’t lose my mind after experiencing a trigger like a bad breakup or picking up a drug habit. I just never had the developmental foundation built by a stable home and supportive parents. I grew up mostly homeless and with an absentee father, not to mention a single mother with a host of generational issues herself. I never felt as though I had a purpose for being in this world. I was also an only child, which certainly has its advantages, but can also prove to be detrimental to a child with a social personality like mine. I started school craving not only attention and inclusion but worst of all-approval. This put me in a solid position as the flunky outcast, where I tried embarrassingly hard to be someone that I wasn’t and fit into situations that simply weren’t for me.
The first time I can recall a shift in the right direction was during the end of high school when I got the opportunity to tour Europe with a choir. Even though I was an outsider among my fellow singers, the trip changed my life by changing my perspective. I realized that there was a big world outside of the small suburb I grew up in. There are big cities full of millions of people and even bigger states, countries and continents with millions more! At just 17 years old, singing had already taken me somewhere I barely even knew existed.
But obviously I can’t just run across the world every time I’m in need of a new perspective. Yes, I’d found peace of mind (and a piece of my mind) in the fact that just because I didn’t fit into one place, didn’t mean that there was no place for me anywhere, but the problem was that I still hadn’t really found myself. In college, I shifted my unhealthy focus from cliques of girls to toxic romances. I began building my new world around whichever guy I was currently crushing on, abandoning all of my own priorities to devote time to even just daydreaming about them and shunning my own needs in a failed attempt to seem attractive. Relationship after relationship, I failed not only my partners, but most importantly myself.
After graduating college I was desperately trying to get a job at a career fair when I came across an open house at a recording studio. Although I couldn’t afford to sign up for the music production classes the studio was trying to sell, I made the best of it by using the event to network. At the end of the presentation, I stood up in front of all the attendees and shyly asked if anyone played guitar when my future bandmate raised his hand. My scheduled quickly filled with rehearsals, performances and recording sessions. My on and off boyfriend of two back and forth years was shocked that I was no longer readily available to be used by him at the drop of a hat because I was starting to have my own life. When I found that singing actually made me feel better than male attention I was finally able to break things off with him for good.
The final shift in perspective that brought me to where I am today took a lot of prayer and a lot of talking. Searching for the purpose that my family never provided, I’d been going to church once in a while for years. Similarly, I’d go to therapy whenever things got desperate. After grad school, I decided to try going to therapy once a week, every week. Then I visited a church I’d heard about and started going there weekly. Through hearing about the plan that God has for me every Sunday and then talking to my therapist about my desires for that plan every Tuesday, I slowly began to tire of looking for someone to love me more than I loved myself. Finding love was still part of the plan so I wrote down a list of what I wanted in a man. Then I didn’t go looking for it. Instead, I joined a bible study group and committed to going to a concert once a week. One of those weeks, I went to a show and connected with a musician who would later become the love of my life. For the third time, music had led me to right where I wanted be.
Even after I stopped being needy of friends and dependent on men, I continued to go to both church and therapy religiously (pun intended). I didn’t just think “Okay, I did what I had to do and now I’m cured!” I committed to my development in the same way I used to commit to relationships with other people. Focusing on my purpose, music, freed me from worrying so much what others think of me while simultaneously putting me around like-minded people who would appreciate all that I have to offer the world. It became abundantly clear that the secret to attracting and keeping other people in your life is to be the best version of yourself.