“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.” -Andre Gide, Autumn Leaves
I first heard a paraphrased version of this quote when I was very heavily into Nirvana and Kurt Cobain about ten years ago. In fact, I had his version in vinyl stickers up on my bedroom wall (sorry, mom and dad). It read: "I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not."
This is something I’ve always struggled with, especially in the areas of my life I’ve really invested in over the years. I’ve always wanted to stand out, but at times I’ve wanted to fit in with whatever crowd my hobby lined up in. I wanted to be one of the guys on my little league team everyone wanted to be around. The problem was, despite my talent, I didn’t eat, breathe, and sleep it. It’s not like I couldn’t make friends on the team, I was just sort of the outlier. Fast forward a couple of years. I wanted to be one of the skater kids. Well, I didn’t want to smoke. I didn’t want to swear. I didn’t want to destroy property. I was trying to be a clean cut, respectful kid throwing himself into a mix of otherwise trouble makers, and it just didn’t mesh well. I could give a dozen more examples of times in my life that are carbon copies of this particular scenario, but let’s get to the point. We'll save all that other stuff for a therapist.
Two years ago the band decided we were going to get consistent again, after quite a hiatus. We started playing a lot, getting together more, etc. I loved it. I’ve always chased the dream of being a professional musician and this seemed like the way to get there. One of my biggest strengths and flaws, is that I dive into everything I enjoy headfirst. I built a website, made merchandise, got all streaming platforms up and going… the list is endless. The issue is that once I had it all, I had zero idea of what to do with it. So, like anybody else would, I googled different ways to get music out there. Naturally there was a bottomless pit of information, spanning across hundreds of pages.
Most of them had the same answer: social media. That’s a bit of a no-brainer, right? In this day and age, social media is one of the only ways to bring awareness to a brand (or band) and get yourself out there. I tried all of it. ALL OF IT. I made TikToks, I memorized dozens of hashtags, and I looked at trends people were doing. I tried to mimic what popular artists were doing. I tried most of it, and some of it got a comment or two, but it wasn’t “me”.
My goal with music has always been to help people. I want to share my experiences through inspiring messages. I want to encourage people to persevere, and make them know without a shadow of a doubt that they can overcome anything. Music has saved my life more times than I can count. Well, how was anybody supposed to know that’s what I’m about if I’m out there acting goofy and making a fool of myself trying to sell a t shirt? The answer is simple: they’re not. They had no way of knowing because my heart was not in it and I wasn't being genuine.
We had decent engagement on social media throughout this time, but it wasn’t until I decided to start really explaining the music to people and giving personal details to them that they started to comprehend the message. As this unfolded, I also began to be much more open and straightforward in the way I write music, rather than trying to be cryptic behind a catchy tune. And guess what? It worked. It's still working. People are hearing this message. This isn’t just a band of background noise. This isn’t just something to turn on. This is a movement. This is a reckoning. It's high time we bring this armageddon to fruition.
I’ve been afraid of showing who I truly am off and on for so many years, but I’ve always tried to inspire people to be themselves. How am I supposed to tell someone to be true to themself if I'm lying to my own self? You know when they say “you can’t help anybody until you help yourself?” That is as real as it gets. So it’s time to be vulnerable. It’s time to stop being a hypocrite. It’s time to face that fear of rejection and misunderstanding, and be as authentic and real as I can be. Because if I can do this for myself, maybe I can help others do it for themselves, and that’s what all of this is all about.
It’s not about money. It’s not about fame, fortune, and everything that goes with it. It’s a war. It’s a spiritual war. It’s a war against fear. The only way to be the strongest warrior you can be is to risk being hated for who you are, rather than loved for who you aren’t. Because at the end of the day, that true person is going to draw in real, genuine people who will make their life a million times more fulfilled. And those people who hate them? They were never really worth the time in the first place, because they weren’t seeing the real, amazing person behind the mask.
I’m not a master of this yet, but I’m trying harder every day. I want you to do it with me, because I know you can, and I know it’s worth it.
Go To War With Fear.