The Terrible 20’s

Helping a good friend out the other night by talking through life with her, I’ve come to realize I’m not the only one who thinks becoming an adult is HARD. She told me she felt inadequate, useless, and depressed. That she reverted back to cutting, even though she swore when she was younger that she’d never do it again. And it felt even worse for her knowing that she was cutting as a full-fledged adult, rather than just as a teenager, showing that the cutting problem isn’t just a teenage phase, but a lifelong vice and outlet.

Damn. That’s tough stuff. I talked to her about how I felt about being a fresh adult in my 20’s.

I said the 20’s remind me of New Year’s Eve. I don’t like New Years because there’s too much pressure to be having fun. I watch the ball drop in time square with the trendiest bands of the year playing, lights flashing, horns blowing, and millions of people having a blast. I think to myself, “I’m supposed to be having a lot of fun tonight. That’s my job tonight. But what party should I go to? Who should I be with? Should I stay at home? Should I plan to actually go to Time Square? What should I wear? I have no one to kiss at midnight. This is depressing. But it’s supposed to be so fun.” Where’s the disconnect? The POTENTIAL and PRESSURE that the culture puts on me to have fun and enjoy myself, collides with the reality that I’m not really good at celebrating anything and I’m often too anxious for my own good. And that collide causes me to feel low.

Ya, that’s how I also feel about the 20’s. Younger kids are saying, “That must be so cool to be your age. No more adults, no more people telling you what to do, no more school. I’m so jealous!” While older adults are saying, “This is YOUR time to live! Before you settle down and have kids, do as much as you can. You are completely free! Live it up. Have as much fun as you can, because you won’t get these years back.”

Whoa. Don’t put that evil on me Ricky Bobby. Stop telling me that these are my glory years and I won’t get them back. Because the pressure for me to have fun is not rubbing well against the newly found need to try and support myself on a meager salary, while student loans hang over my head. It has taken me an entire year to adjust to the feeling that a big part of being an adult means paying for things simply to survive; things you never get to actually see, touch, or gain satisfaction from. Suddenly I’m paying monthly payments for rent, health insurance, car insurance for 2 cars, groceries, student loans, a cell phone plan, etc. My discretionary income is gone and I’m hard-pressed to “Have as much fun as I can, because I won’t get these years back” when I am too worried about my present and my future economic welfare.

The Terrible 20’s. The disconnect between the fun and freedom we should be having and the turmoil of trying to just make ends meet. It wouldn’t feel as bad if everyone didn’t tell me I should be having more fun while I’m young. Tell me the truth. Tell me that being able have a job and support myself is an accomplishment in-and-of itself in this terrible economy. Tell me that I SHOULD be having a lot of confused and worrisome thoughts about how my life is going to play out because I don’t have another class to go to tomorrow and I’m not moving up to the next grade next year. There’s no specified road for me anymore. And that’s scary! And the car breaks down, and the dentist says I have 8 cavities to pay for, and my roommates say they don’t want to re-new the lease, and my boss says I won’t be getting a promotion anytime soon. And all these 1st world problems come tumbling in, but I’m supposed to brush it off because I’m in my 20’s! And everyone knows your 20’s is for fun and freedom, not for hardships and despairing life lessons!

I saw an episode of 16 and Pregnant today. I’m not even going to start with the hardships involved going down that road. Spare someone else, it’s hard enough to support yourself in this world. To carry your own water. But we’re doing it. I can do it AND I can still write and perform music. What a blessing. What a celebration.

Just like for New Years, our media and our culture puts a lot of pressure on us to be having a great time in our 20’s. Guard yourself from that. It will be some fun, but it’s going to be really hard. You mix in the soul searching you’ll do, the soulmate searching, the career searching, and the apartment searching. And you’ve got yourself a decade of floating. Not really fully knowing where you’ll be, who you’ll be with, what you’ll believe in or what you’ll be doing for a living by the time your 30.

Yup. The Glory Days. The Terrible 20’s.

Accept It (A Painful Euphoria)

I talked to my therapist for an hour on the phone before I boarded the plane at Sacramento airport this afternoon. One speaking point I had with her is that it is hard for me to accept making good money. To accept that making an income and striving for wealth isn’t un-Godly or dirty. I grew up in a very frugal family so it is hard for me to justify spending money on things that aren’t very cheap or don’t have legitimate functional purchase. I’ll go to a mall and just feel weird looking at all these stores that sell overpriced or useless things. The American Dream of Materialism.

But it’s also hard for me to justify making a lot of money someday and buying comfortable things a very nice house. I’d feel bad. I’d feel like I don’t deserve the comforts of expensive stuff and that the money is better spent helping others in some way. Everyone would like the finer things in life, but I’m not supposed to enjoy those. I don’t deserve them. I’d feel sick receiving them.

But she reminded me that it is ok to be wealthy. It’s ok to strive for a high income as long as it is not THE GOAL of my life. And that if I had more, I’d be able to give more to others. If I made more as a musician, I’d be able to put on bigger shows and affect a broader audience. That money is simply Green Energy. It’s paper and numbers. It is a resource that can be used for yourself, for others, or for both. It’s not meant to be buried or put on a pedestal. It’s not meant to be seen as the goal of life or the root of all evil. It’s just paper and numbers. It’s just Green Energy.

She told me that often people that have this problem of not being able to feel ok with accepting money have the same problem with not being able to accept Grace. She got me there. It’s really hard for me to accept the grace of God and the grace of the people that love me. And it’s also hard for me to accept that I can turn my traumatic childhood past and my vagabond present into a very successful, satisfying, and fulfilling future.

While on the plane I started tearing up. Telling myself, “Accept it. Accept that people truly love you. Accept that you will succeed in your career, affect a lot of people, and make a lot of money. Accept that someday you’ll be happily married to a beautiful, loving, and faithful wife. Accept that you’ll have a nice house. Accept that you will have a comfortable life with good friends. Accept that God loves you and Jesus died for you. Accept that you will give many loved ones, friends, fans, and strangers sound direction and advice. Accept that you will lead people to the Lord throughout your life through talking to them and through example. Accept that you are good enough for all these things because God made you, and he knows what you’re capable of.”

Ya, that made me tear up some. It gave me a painful euphoria as I thought through it. How come it is always easier for us to accept the bad and it’s hard for us to accept the good? Why does it feel weird and selfish to want a successful future for ourselves? I’m working through it. I’m working through it.

Overthinking

I’ve been thinking back to all we’ve done
I’ve been counting losses when we’ve won
I’ve been overthinking, overthinking

Some lyrics I came up with 6 months ago. Haven’t finished the song. But I can’t wait to see what it becomes.

I really want to do my best to speak to a generation. To have honest, authentic conversations about the disparity and depravity that has been handed down to us and the hope that I see worth pursuing. Most days feel like an uphill battle for the majority of people out there. The media paints current American life to be a picture that is wonderful in theory, but just not true. What was promised to us at childhood isn’t the case… Student loans without a job market, parents that have upside-down houses, grandparents that are fearful that their pensions or social security won’t come anymore because our government has literally shut down. What? I know I’ll be able to eat and have shelter everyday, but the rest seems gloomy and unsure.

I’ve realized I think. And thinking is a good thing. But I tend to overthink EVERYTHING. I had a $2,000 repair to my car recently, and within an hour I was freaking out over how I am supposed to afford my future children’s health care someday if I’m self-employed. Why do I do that? What do I think THAT much?

I’ve always thought of intellectualism as a gift I received from my parents. It seems highly regarded in society, so I’ve regarded it highly in my life. Being able to think and reason through everything has always been a positive, right? But, for the first time in my entire life… this week, I’ve realized that too much of anything is bad thing. And that includes thinking! One phrase comes to mind:

Ricky Bobby is not a thinker
Ricky Bobby is a driver

It’s time for me to do less thinking and more doing. There will be a time and place for thinking, but let’s get some forward momentum going first. Let’s only think when it will do something tangible for me or you in the short run, eh?

I’ve been thinking back to all we’ve done
I’ve been counting losses when we’ve won
I’ve been overthinking, overthinking

Can’t wait to see how that song turns out. It’ll be a good autobiographical moment for me.

Opportunities and Tragedies

Change is inevitable. People take it differently. I personally dislike change. But, the more it happens, the more I learn to roll with the punches. It’s been a year of changes for me. Often it’s felt like the ground is constantly moving under me and I don’t know how to walk straight anymore.

I used to get car sick all the time as a kid. I feel metaphorically nauseas from all this movement in my life that I did not cause!

BUT, that’s what faith is for. That’s what trusty friends are for. That’s what wisdom is for. To see what we cannot. To know our future isn’t as bleak as we make it out to be. And to give us comfort when our head is spinning. I must say, for all the outward positivity I project, I have a lot of internal negativity brewing. And once again, the best way to quell that negativity is through faith, friendships, and wisdom. You’re not alone. We’re all hitting bumps along the way. The pressures won’t go away. But we can remember that we still have food to eat, a place to sleep, and air to breath. We’re alive, but we’re low. BUT…. we’re alive.

Crying In Public

I’m at the airport and I just saw this woman balling her eyes out as she left her friend to go on a plane. It made me feel for her and wonder if it was a sad cry, a mad cry, a bittersweet cry, or what. Either way, it evoked some emotion and wonder in me.

Reminded me of this summer. I had multiple occasions where a fan of my band would say, “I want to tell you something about what you’ve done for me, but I’m afraid that if I start telling you, I’ll cry.” Please! Tell me. Cry. By all means cry. Don’t be afraid of showing your emotion. It’s a beautiful thing. It adds to the communication. It adds to the moment. And it shows the honesty and authenticity of what your saying. Everyone needs a good cry here and there. Whether it’s talking to a lead singer at a rock show about your life or leaving your best friend behind at the airport, there are times and places when crying is the one-and-only appropriate response.


When I was 5 and I was going to the first day of kindergarten, I didn’t want to let go of my Dad’s hand. He knelt down to me and said, “I’m never going to ask much of you, but I will ask one thing and I want you to be honest with me about it: How do you feel?” What a question. So simple but so powerful. How do you feel. It was an ongoing question as the years went on. And it was almost always asked when I was sad. He knew. He wanted to hear it from me, “Dad, I’m really sad” followed by some tears. He didn’t always have the best advice, but his one question kept me honest to my emotions.

Now I’ve cried more in the last two years than probably all of my life prior. Because situations have warranted. If someone says to you with tears in their eyes, “You have saved my life” or “I am so sorry for the loss of your father”, how can you not cry? How can you not feel that reckless surge of emotion come over you. It’s been an interesting, exciting, and rough couple of years. A lot of smiles and a lot of tears. But I have never been afraid to share both.

So the question is, Why are some of us afraid to tear up in front of others? In front of strangers or in front of the ones closest to us? Why are we embarrassed? Is it because crying is too personal? Or because you have that ugly heavy-breathing thing when you do it? All I know is, because of my Dad asking that question over-and-over again, I won’t ever be afraid to show the sadness or joy in me. To let that wave of emotions crash on me and allow it to flow.

It can be tiring. Those moments of pure emotion are more tiring for me than any heavy work out or complicated algorithm. But they are necessary. We’re human! We hurt. We cry. It’s how it works. It’s how we’re wired.

To the woman in the airport not afraid to ball hard with her friend… Thank you. You don’t know it, but you caused me to write this. Which potentially caused someone to relate and feel more comfortable opening up about how they feel. Amazing how the world works sometimes.

Serve

I left church today with a lot of new thoughts. The topic was how to serve more. How Jesus didn’t teach his disciples to preach or teach, but to pray and serve. That’s it. It was enlightening for me.

I spent last Saturday morning on a roof helping for Habitat For Humanity. I was working hard in the hot sun. Not getting paid a dime. And I LOVED it. Because I knew that someone was going to live here and raise a family here. It wasn’t about me anymore, it was about them.

Today, the pastor stabbed me in the heart when he said, “You want to know how to get depressed? Just think about yourself all day. What should I where? Will I be good enough? What should I do tomorrow? Where am I at in my life? When you serve others, you stop thinking about yourself. And suddenly, you care less about yourself and more for them.” As you know, I do an awful lot of self reflection. I’m starting to think it’s too much. If I have this much time and effort to think about me, I obviously have enough time and effort to do more for others.

There is a special feeling about teaching, serving, helping; without any motive or reward for yourself. It is undoubtedly a good feeling, a spiritually fulfilling feeling. I think it is time I do less thinking and more serving.

Four in the morning, the party’s over. I think I need you now.

I’ve been feeling let down this week. The band finished our tour, and now I am an extremely under-stimulated homebody. Mix that with the terrible feeling of being let down by a girl. Mix that with the feeling of being let down by my band. Mix that with the feeling of being let down by my mom. And you’ve got yourself a hard week. No one has done anything wrong to me. Everyone has been honorable and careful. But it’s just the way the that the dice has been rolled. You know?

I hate that feeling. When things don’t go the way you hoped they would. When you were expecting something different. And no one’s at fault, but you just feel an emptiness. It sucks.

But I’ve been listening to music a lot this week. It has really kept me calm. Bob Marley said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” I feel pained, but I can still got lost in the music just like I did when I was 12 years old. A good song is a like a bandaid. A temporary fix until you can clear your head again. It’s a good reminder for me.

Four in the morning, the party’s over. I think I need you now.

Fridges

I was talking to a friend who said I was on her family’s fridge. I come to realize I am on a lot of people’s fridges. Families that we visit, that I consider my own. There I am. On the fridge.

My family was never one for a lot of fridge pictures growing up. We weren’t a very cohesive family unit. Not many warm, fuzzy feelings came from that part of my life. I kind of had to learn it later in life. I guess later is now. We are traveling again and I am noticing myself on these fridges. And the warm, fuzzy feelings are coming. I have family. They are proud of me. They want the best for me. They love me. And they show it through their kind compassion for us… and from their fridge!

I may have not made the billboard charts yet, but I made a fridge. And that is enough for today.

They’ll Still Love It. I Promise.

I was talking to a friend today about my band’s direction and my personal aversion to social networking. And “aversion” is an understatement. For whatever reason, I don’t like looking at a screen and posting pictures and comments about my life on it consistently every day. I just don’t think I am interesting enough for people to feel entertained. And I personally don’t want to take the time to do it. If I had the chance to go on an amazing roller coaster, I’d want to go on it, have a lot of fun, and then move on to the next activity. I wouldn’t want to Instagram a picture of it, then go on it, then tweet about it afterword and make sure my tweet links to Facebook. I’d rather just live.

But then my friend said something that made me feel more like I was in a therapy session. She said, “Maybe you just think that you always have to be ‘lead singer Dave’ on these social networks. But you aren’t just a singer. You are a financial advisor. You are a grad student. You are a corporate collaboration expert. You are a worship leader at your church. You’re a surfer. You’re an avid traveler. You are a lot more than just a singer. And people want to know about it. These people aren’t just fans of your music, they are fans of YOU. So let them in to more than just the music and the message of your band. Let them see everything else about you that makes you different than all of the other lead singers out there. They’ll still love it. I promise.”

Well then, if you put it THAT way… Maybe I should say more for the people that want to listen. We’ll see if I can be a little more translucent for you. I can’t promise it will be interesting or entertaining. But it will be me. And that’s the best I’ve got to give.

Trust in love and hope.

The River

I was hanging out by the little creek this morning in the backyard of a friend’s house in Ohio. It was really serene. It reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend last fall.

I went to a Yellowcard show in Orlando because my friends in the band Sandlot Heroes were opening for the tour. I was talking to Ans, the drummer, and asked him how it was all going. He responded with a really non-assertive attitude, which confused me. They were on the biggest tour of their life thus far, and he was feeling fine about it. Not up, not down. Just fine.

He said, “I just read ‘On The Road’ by Jack Kerouac and it inspired me to have a new mindset on life. I live today for today and I don’t compare what happens with whatever I was planning to happen. If the crowd doesn’t react well to us or merch sales are terrible some nights, I’m not down about it anymore. If life is you rafting down a river and you were planning to go right at the fork, but the river takes you left, what are you going to do? Sometimes you don’t really have a choice but to go the way the river takes you. The best you can do is enjoy what happens, whatever the outcome may be.”

I will never forget those words. They were so on point to me. So wise and so good. We can’t control where this river, this life takes us. So don’t compare where you are to where you wanted to go. Because the best you can do on that river is simply enjoy the ride.