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I'm a man that wears many hats. For a living I do many things from working in the realms of insurance and finance to historical researching and instructing at the college level. Like an acrobat at the circus, it tends to awe a lot of people. Once I describe what I do people always ask the infamous questions......
"How do you do it all?"
"How do you keep it all straight?"
"Do you ever sleep, if so, how/when?"
No matter the general question, my answer is always the same....
"Playing in a metal band"
This is my favorite part of the conversation. I love seeing the change in people's facial expressions when I reply with that. At this point they are extremely confused and at a loss for words. It gets better when I let them listen to the music my band creates lol!
People often think I'm joking but it's 100% true! Most of the time, it's followed up with "Why?"
My answer is simple to question as well....
"It's an emotional outlet."
I used to be an extremely angry person. I was always stressed and had severe anxiety issues. For many years I was in a dark place. I was constantly lashing out at people. It didn't take much to set me off and cause to go into moments of rage outburst that were completely uncalled for. On top of that, I was very depressed and unmotivated as a person, living in a world of constant fear. Some of this was hereditary and some of it was having no clue how handle my emotions.
In my late teen years I started playing guitar in heavy metal bands with friends from high school. After our first couple jam sessions I started to notice changes in my personality. I wasn't angry as much. Things that used to bother me were no longer an issue.
I was nicer to people. I wasn't constantly lashing out at people over the most minuscule things. My stress levels dropped to minimal levels. I became more laid-back and didn't let things worry me as much. I was a completely different person.
For years my parents put me on medication and sent me to countless therapist to fix my issues. These tactics were always unsuccessful. The tables turned once I started playing loud, fast, aggressive music on a guitar. The feeling of freedom and relief was even greater when I started performing music in front of crowds. There was no great feeling than being on stage doing what made me a person.
I almost made a career out of music but I saw the struggle musicians go through in the genre and decided it wasn't for me. I'm grateful I found career choices in other interest I have.
Now I'm 31 with a family, career, mortgage, and other things in the adulting world, but I still play in a metal band. The metal band helps me cope with the stress that work and everyday life tend to throw my way. It's my therapy and medication that I never have to battle my health insurance to pay for. It helps me be stress, anger, and anxiety free.
I'm not suggesting everyone should go out and join a metal band. I'll give pointers to all those who are interested but, that's not the point of this article. My suggestion is for people to find an emotional outlet. It can be a hobby, a sacred place, or alone time. Whatever we chose, make it a priority to use that outlet. Use it on a daily basis in some sort of way.
Make people in your life understand why that outlet is so important. Once they see how it helps you, they will love and support it no matter what. Stress, anger, and anxiety are toxic poisons that can destroy an individual. This is why having an outlet to get rid of those poisons is so important, it makes us better people :)
What's your emotional outlet?