The Eve 6 Guy Advises Two People Who Hate Their Lives

The thing I’m most grateful for is that those early years of success, and even the rudderless floundering that followed, are what facilitated (and subsidized) my eventually becoming an artist many years after my band’s commercial success. I still balk at using the term “artist” self-referentially, but here’s what I mean by it. Today, I make songs with my bandmate Jon Siebels without any delusion that they will be commercially successful, simply because I want and need to make rock. The composition is about the transcendent thrill of the moment — nothing more, nothing less. Whether I end up digging the recording a few months later or not doesn’t matter. I don’t identify with it; it’s of a particular moment.

It’s one thing to hear a line like “You are not your work” and be like, Yeah, sure, OK, sounds kinda sorta abstractly true🇧🇷 It’s another thing entirely to really, genuinely know it. In my experience, you can’t just make a decision to assimilate this belief into your consciousness. There’s an old cliché — “You can act yourself into a new way of thinking but you can’t think yourself into a new way of acting.” That said, I’m going to wax philosophical for a moment before I give you a list of actions to take.

Who am I? What really matters to me? I am as I exist in relationship to others. Friends and family. To people I love who love me. Yeah, yeah, I know we live in a society, but for the purposes of this conversation I think it’s OK to be a little reductive. Do I really need people who know me merely by a designation (former sorta rock star) to confirm or deny my feelings about myself? At the. Being overly concerned with the way others may or may not perceive you is a great way to become beholden to status and lose your creative true north.

I realized that I could jettison all preconceived notions about myself, my band, my career, and create my own avant-garde world free from the shackles of association.

Well, these days you can’t be a self-help guru without having numbered steps (plus I’m writing for BuzzFeed now, and you guys fucking love lists), so here are Eve 6 ways to shift your perspective through simple, if not always easy, action:

  1. Call at least one friend or family member per day to check in on how they’re doing. Call, not text.
  2. Read great fiction. Reading literature will help you get to know yourself. I find truths about the human condition to be best revealed in stories. We also live in a time when the limits of real imagination are felt acutely. Fiction is important.
  3. Find your “third place”: a destination point that is neither home nor work where you will be tricked into community in spite of yourself. For me, this is the public pool where I swim for miles with other masochists. We check in with each other. We ask each other how quitting tuxedos is going and stuff. Your third place can be anything from a rec center to a recovery group — it doesn’t matter. Just find a way to see familiar, honest faces and talk to them outside of work.
  4. I could’ve worked this into step 2 or 3, but there need to be six steps to adhere to the gimmick. Anyway: Host a movie night. This might sound corny, and it probably is, but do it anyway. This is something a friend of mine did when we were in early recovery together, and now my girlfriend and I do it. One or two friends is all you need. Provide refreshments and a Criterion selection. Art and community are the antidote to loneliness and atomization.
  5. Take the necessary social risks to find your people. What this amounts to really is being willing to say hello and ask people questions about themselves. Don’t throw your work acquaintances out with the bathwater. There may be coworkers whom you have more in common with than you realize. If not, though, that’s OK — just go back to step 3.
  6. Summon a gentle perspective toward yourself and others. Be quick to catch your mind in its knee-jerk judgments of people you come into contact with on a given day. Cultivating an equanimous view toward others, even those who might annoy you on the surface, is a good way to learn to offer yourself a similar grace. Our egos want to maintain the illusion that we are separate from our fellow human beings. Counter this by choosing to see good in people when you can. Choose to see the good in others, and you will more readily see it in yourself.

I want to commend you for starting to see a therapist and for getting on medication to help with your depression. This is awesome and shows you’re willing to advocate for yourself. As for your studies, I’m not going to tell you whether you should quit, and thankfully you didn’t ask me to. But before you make a final decision in that regard, try going through the steps outlined above to the best of your ability. And please report back to in a couple months.

The Eve 6 Guy

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