This past Christmas, I surprised my boyfriend with two tickets to see his favorite artist, Quinn XCII, up in Columbus. Quinn is insanely talented — his lyrics are candid and insightful, telling stories and depicting experiences that are relatable, and ultimately resonate with the scope of his audience. Set in an old church in an isolated area outside of downtown, we wandered all day and wondered if Quinn would play our favorite song, the recent hit "Flare Guns"; a song that's upbeat, catchy and complemented so well by a female vocalist. When that familiar beat came piercing through the deafening speakers, I swear we were more excited than small children sighting the tree on Christmas morning. In the midst of singing the lyrics off-key and shaking around next to strangers, I finally put two and two together to realize the girl on stage, who also opened the show, was Chelsea Cutler.
When it comes to icons and admirable women in the world of music, Chelsea is a straight MUSE. I think of her in the same regard as someone like Maren Morris. She is who she is, unapologetically, and she's in pursuit of her own path. She's poised and confident, she owns her style and energy, and she possesses this magnetic sense of authenticity. In her basketball jerseys and high top Nike's, her approach to music is undeniably whole-hearted, and it shows in her singles, stage presence and songs. Yesterday she posted a trailer of sorts promoting a new mix tape, titled Sleeping With Roses, that's scheduled to debut on Friday. A reflection on how her life has changed over the last seven months, as she dropped out of college to join a nationwide tour, the project explores the dichotomy between being so happy and being so sad all at once.
In a blurb from the mix-tape description, she shares: "It has been the most fulfilling, rewarding six months of my life. It has also been the hardest, loneliest six months of my life."
This reality really struck me. And I'll tell you why.
More or less, it boils down to this truth: fulfillment and reward, together and as individual entities, embody a sense of accomplishment that inherently contradicts the reality of hard and lonely. How can it be that when you chase your dreams and you start to make strides you only ever dreamed of, the height of your success inevitably implies a sense of sacrifice?
I think about this in the context of my own life. I have this vision of success, and the majority of it is informed by the perception that society has of success, too. When we're successful, everything must be perfect, or damn close to it.... right? After an unwavering commitment to the grind, our achievements come to the forefront, our goals reach the status of accomplished, and everything else aligns on its own and falls perfectly in to place. Wishful thinking when you really think it through, but that vision in my head resembles the ending of a Disney movie – where there's resolution, a kiss, a Prince Charming and this notion that everything from here on out is smooth sailing. Similarly, I have this vision that one day, I'll find myself in a moment where I've made it. It will be defining, a turning point even, and from then on out, all my problems will feel irrelevant and thoroughly surmountable.
Even in the context of your own life, I believe this holds true. Whether your'e leaving your life to go on tour, craving purpose in your career, reinventing yourself through a weight loss journey, awaiting a chapter of motherhood, or navigating an independent battle with your inner self, the reality is we're all embracing the unknown in pursuit of the things that complement our vision for what we want our life to be.
The reality I have struggled to grasp is the same truth that appears to be the crux of Sleeping With Roses. It's possible I'm wrong, but even so, the reality of fulfilled and rewarding does conflict with hard and lonely. With a saturation of social media posts that we filter through on the daily, our lives are so influenced by the accomplishments we see others having, and it's hard to internalize that success and convince ourselves that it's easy to have it all and we simply just aren't in reach. The entire purpose of this reflection is to reinforce the reminder that the satisfaction of fulfillment, and the feeling of reaping a reward of something you worked for, that success requires sacrifice. Sometimes that means time away from your loved ones, less energy, less bandwidth, less of a social life, less sleep (and if you're anything like me, sleep basically falls under the same category as "Loved One"), sometimes it means compromising what you "should" be doing for what you need to be doing, sometimes it means choosing what is hard instead of what is easy, and it's knowing that the work you do now will see you through down the road. It requires patience, composure and the grit of a tenacious spirit, because let's be honest, this type of journey is fucking hard.
So, don't get discouraged. Know that the outcome of your future lies within your own hands, and so much of what is to come will be determined by the choices you make, the things you seek out, and the way you choose to approach your life. Work hard, stay patient, and trust the journey. Cling to the metaphor a rose, knowing that the there's no rose without thorns, and no success without challenges. Remember that the best way to predict the future is to create it. And above all else, celebrate the paramount moments in the lives of the women around you. Your day will come, too.
Follow Chelsea on Instagram and stay tuned for her mixtape release on Friday! x.