When Passion Becomes Destructive

Around a month ago I quite literally woke up and realized I wasn’t happy, as cheesy as that sounds.

That was about as hard to type as it was to say out loud to myself or anyone else. I’m sure hitting publish will be tough too.

But this is an audio blog… with ramblings on audio from an audio nerd. Why the hell am I typing this here?

It took a long time for me to begin to realize why I wasn’t happy. There’s a number of things that are a bit too personal for me to post for the world to see, and it’s tough to nail down one source… but one big thing I realized was I was filling holes in my life with audio. More specifically, the sound effects library company I run. I have no way to calculate the countless hours spent recording, editing, mixing, managing the website, creating art, videos, ads… the list goes on and on. Plenty of time to spend masking unrecognized issues.

During the day I work as a sound designer/mixer at a post audio house. At night and on the weekends I’m more often than not working on some aspect of my sound effects libraries. For a long time I was totally happy with this. I was creating libraries with a passion and getting satisfaction from releasing and selling them. Financially, I feel like I was quite successful in doing this. Selling libraries allowed me to buy all the mics and gear I ever wanted and travel all around the country recording crazy sounds.

That all sounds pretty nice when I type it out. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to realize what I was gaining in recording, traveling, and income, I was losing in other aspects of my life… namely social.

I’ve never been a terribly social person. I’ve typically been content having a few people I’m close to and spending more time by myself than with others. Field recording is naturally a fairly solitary activity. I think that’s a big reason why I was able to go all in on my passion for sound effects.

For various reasons, however, I’ve realized I’m no longer content with that. I’ve realized my drive to record has caused me to push away spending time with people. When an opportunity hang out with friends or to an event would come up, I’d think “We’ll I’ve been meaning to record X”, “That one thing on the website needs tweaking”, or “I’ve got to finish this next library!” and inevitably turn it down. Simply put, I prioritized audio over maintaining friendships or developing new ones. I let my passion for sound effects drive me to a state of isolation I could no longer maintain.

Recognizing I was unhappy was an extremely difficult thing to come to grips with. It made me question just about every aspect of my life, trying to figure out causes. The personal causes I alluded to earlier gave me some of the most intense emotions I’ve felt in a very long time. Probably things I could have dealt with along the way had I been more present in my own life rather than dedicating it to audio. Instead, it felt like these immense feelings of confusion, sadness, and fear hit me all at once in the worst way possible.

I’m still dealing with those, but one thing I’ve found comfort in is how much control I have over the cause this post is about: my passion for audio. Working in audio for a living and on the side for a passion is a lot, and I don’t think I realized the toll it could take until recently.

I’ve been burnt out before, but never quite like this. I haven’t touched my side hustle in over a month and it’s never felt like such a relief. The energy I would’ve spent on it has been instead used to find healthy ways to repair the holes in my life. I’ve gone out more, made new connections, experienced new things, and even rediscovered old passions. The funny thing is I’m not making any huge changes, but even the smallest ones have had a huge impact. I still think I’m a natural introvert, I’ve just learned it’s possible to embrace that too much.

I don’t want any of this to be interpreted as me exiting the sound effects library world. I still love recording and plan on creating libraries for the foreseeable future! I just need to realize where it should be on my priority list.

No, my point in posting this was two fold. One: it’s probably good for me to take the time to process this aspect of the issue and put my thoughts into words. Two: I don’t think I’m the only person who’s gone or is going through something similar to this. Maybe you’re dealing with something similar. Maybe this will help. Maybe you’ve lived a comparable work/passion lifestyle but dealt with it in a healthier way. If you’re comfortable sharing your thoughts or experiences feel free to comment or just reach out! (To me or anyone you trust in your life) Talking about this stuff is the best medicine.

Happy designing, everyone! I’ve got a number of projects in the works I’m pumped for, they just might a bit longer before the world can see them 😉

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