It has been a little over a month since I left my full-time job. To say the least, it was not an easy decision, but it was a move I knew I had to make.
The hardest part about it was that I was leaving behind a world that I had built for uncertainty. I cultivated a routine that required me to stretch myself over all of my responsibilities.
I opened and closed my days by refreshing my work email, which became a reminder of what I have yet to accomplish. My calendar and color-coded Post-It notes told me where I needed to be and at what time. My personal life, however, was etched out of those plans.
I tried to find balance, though; I carved out some “me time” and retreated to the gym for a run. At first, I just wanted to keep my health in check and to relax. I challenged myself and created goals, which were often measured by time and distance.
On days where I could not cope with stress, I convinced myself to run faster. Being out of breath felt better than feeling I was not good enough. I noticed my attitude started to change: I was running away from something, instead of toward.
There was a point where I started to feel unlike myself. I was turning into someone else, and no one – not even myself – could stop the transformation.
I had a friend who watched me go through this change. Every now and then, he would try to pull me away from work. He would tell me to take it easy, to take a break every once in awhile. I, of course, resisted his advice. I didn’t listen; I didn’t want to. I knew he was right, but I was just blinded by the fear of failure.
There is something he said that fully resonates with me now. Right before I parted ways with my job, he told me how crucial it was that I plan for something to look forward to.
That, he instructed, would help me cope with and combat the change. Being excited about something, he said, would help me move forward.
I left my job in late October, and I spent the last couple weeks of that month feeling lost. I was grieving. Somewhere along the line, I let my work define me, and by leaving, I felt I had no identity. I was so uncomfortable with myself, but I needed a reset.
One of the places that I feel most like myself is at a concert. So, we decided to end the month of November by pulling up to four of Red Bull Sound Select’s 30 Days in Chicago shows. We saw Noname at Concord Music Hall, Eryn Allen Kane at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, Khalid at the Aragon Ballroom, and Migos and Lil Yachty at the Riviera Theatre.
What I love most about going to shows is that I get to be in a different space. Every artist brings out a collection of people, who unveil a certain style and embody self-expression. The fans, themselves, become a part of the musician’s artform and culture.
Those at Noname’s show dressed comfortably to match her striped T-shirt and black overalls. The stage was her playground, and she hopped, skipped and jumped as she pleased. Her playfulness commanded a crowd, who pieced together their visions of Chicago through her words.
Kane’s audience was dressed in their Sunday best, as they piled into the church pews. Her creamy voice echoed through and through like a pastor preaching God’s word on faith and deliverance.
A sea of girls in short, fitted sweater dresses and thigh-high boots complemented Khalid’s performance, whose sultry, R&B hits focus on experiencing love and heartbreak for the very first time. Devoted boyfriends wrapped their arms around their girlfriends, whispering sweet nothings into their ears.
And as for Migos and Yachty, they brought out Chicago’s boys and girls who came ready to pounce, play and turn up.
At different points of those nights, I began to remember what it was like to be worry-free, what it was like to just enjoy. I pulled energy from the drunk girl behind me and my friend, who kept shouting, “Woooo,” during Noname’s set. I took comfort in knowing love can exist so simply, as I watched a young couple hold their hands, throw their heads back and laugh, and dance ridiculously in between the opening acts for Kane’s performance.
I commend the girls who tried to convince the security guard that their IDs were real upon entering the Aragon for Khalid’s show, and to the shirtless boy who was too hyped to see Migos, I love your spirit.