ARTS OF THE HUSTLE: THE GRIND OF MAKING A LIVING FROM YOUR CRAFT

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“You might be starving, but you’re working toward something greater?”


The life of an artist is rough, but if you have something great, you have to keep going strong. But it’s tough when there are so many people, especially those in your age range, who are doing much more than you at the moment. Even though that’s not saying much, it’s still more than what you’re doing. But you can’t compare what you are doing to what they are doing. Your grind, your climb, your road to success is a lot different than them. And you have to embrace the journey along the way. Yet along that journey, there are some things you need to keep in mind as you are climbing toward your goals as an artist. You should always keep your day job in lieu of your craft, be prepared to sacrifice, learn to listen to those worth listening to, embrace the rough periods, put in the time & ready yourself, and know when you’re getting better.

The first bit of advice I have regarding keeping your day job is practical. Don’t just up and quite your job because you are pursuing your craft. I myself work two part-time jobs that subsidize my living while I pursue screenwriting/filmmaking. I have worked jobs ranging from retail to administrative, ushering concerts to small theatre roles. You take on every gig you can take in order to make room for you to stay working at your craft. Which also ties into the next bit of advice. You should also be prepared to sacrifice a lot along your journey. You will have to sit by and watch your enjoying their youth and building intimate relationships. Meanwhile, you’re building slowly while they live. And to add to it, there is no guarantee you’ll succeed. So you just grind away in pain, all the while you neglect aspects of your youth just to push forward in something you love.

And with so much sacrifice that comes with building your dream, you will have the nay-sayers. These are the people who will tell you to give up and quite. They’ll tell you to go and find something better else to do rather than build your dream. They will project their fears onto you because they see you doing something that they can’t accomplish. So to them you must not know what you’re doing. Because why would they be doing what they’re doing. In a very passive way they’re telling you not only are you no good, but you couldn’t possibly be better than them. And on top of the people rooting against you, there are the rough periods that will come along with the climb. These are the times of rough mental and economic obstacles. And what do I really mean by these rough obstacles? Well here is what I mean.

When you’re going through all these rough periods in life, it makes you realize certain aspects about yourself. You first realize how easy it truly is to live alone. You are afraid of being alone, but once you realize the people in your corner versus those that aren’t, it makes the times when you are doing well worth cutting people off. You also learn that along the way, you can live with a lot less than you thought you could at first. For me, I grew up in a poor household, so I thought the only way for me to be well off was to be very rich. Then I realized the real amount of money I would minimally need to make to live. Then pursuing my dream became much easier to fight for in life. And the reason why I have not lost hope is because I have been able to live off the bare necessities, but I also put the time into my work.

And putting the time in is very important. People talk about their craft, yet they barely work at doing what they say they want to do. You have to put yourself in position to make things happen to you. Put yourself in harms way and see what transpires out of the work. Then when you do get your big break, you have prepared yourself to jump right in. Like the old formula of life, opportunity + preparation = successful outcomes. And all of what I have said prior must be coupled together with an understanding of knowing when you’re getting better. Reach out to people and get feedback on your work. And don’t just ask friends and family; ask people with no real attachment so you know how people really feel. Family and friends will always cosign, yet the people will be honest. And in the end, put your soul into whatever it is you do. Even with no guarantee of success; know that you can fail and fall flat on your face but you do it anyways.


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LIFE ON HOLD: HAVE YOU HAD TO HOLD OFF ON YOUR DREAMS TO CARE FOR OTHERS

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“They had to come first.”


As a child to a single mother, I would always hear how she wanted to do so much in her life. But having children at such a young age, mixed with not having the support system she needed, she was unable to do so. Now in her 50’s, and no children to care for, she is embarking on more things she was never able to do when she was young. And that’s what brings me to the topic today. Have you ever had to put your dreams on hold for something or someone else. For my mother it was her three children, but for someone else it could be something different. We as people sacrifice so much of ourselves in the name of helping other people. A move which I do not plan on doing in my life because it derailed so much of what my own mother wanted to accomplish in life.

But it is really that easy to say? What if I became a parent, and now so much of what I wanted to do I couldn’t? Does that mean I have to completely give up everything? Well, yes and no at the same time. Because yes, you do have to give up a lot when you start having children. But I also think that is your obligation to make sure your children have someone that they can look up to as well. Meaning, your outlook on life will ultimately effect the way your children see the world. I have always been curious about the world that we live in because my mother has had such an open worldly viewpoint. We didn’t just watch a bunch of nonsense as children growing up in her household. We would go to the library, watch the History channel, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic. She would open us up to new things and people different than ourselves.

So for me, every time I start a new project I think about my mother. She was not able to do so much, I do things for that reason. Not that reason alone, but it always sits in the back of my mind. See, it’s easy for me to look at life in the scope of not having to care for anybody but me. I am single with no children, so the sky is the limit. But at one point in time, those people with others they have to look out for, such as their children, were in my current position. But, is it always about children? You have adults taking care of other adults as well. Which is something I am not doing as well. I receive aid from home because I am making strides in my life. But caring for an able-bodied adult who does not want anything out of life, not my problem.

See, in the end, at times we give up our lives to aid people who might be sick, to a child, or because we think it makes us admirable to do so. I understand the children aspect because they didn’t ask to be brought into the world. But you going to work caring for adults who are just as capable of working is not your problem. They have to go out into the world and earn as well. To many people are putting lives of others over themselves when they shouldn’t. You have your immediate obligations which are your children, and parents; everyone else is not an immediate obligation. And it is on them to figure their own life out.


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I’M NOT YOUR MOMMY AND DADDY: WHY THE WORLD OWES YOU NOTHING

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“Always got your hand out.”


In the household where I come from, I was under the impression that no one in this world owed you anything. As a child, my mother let us know that I am doing for you while you’re in this house. But the moment you become an adult, you’re on your own, unless you’re in school or making an effort to be something in life. Yet there was something my mother never wanted to do. She never wanted to start this whole road of something for nothing mindset. Because like I said, the world owes you nothing. Anything in this world you want, you had better be ready to go out and stake your own claim. But where does this entitlement come from in our society?

It hasn’t always been here like it is today. You had prior generations that went out and worked at a young age. As a matter of fact, you had kids in the early 1900’s working in coal minds side by side with their parents. Now days are spent playing video games on televisions or computers. Letting time pass you by while engaging in wasteful activities on cell phones. Which brings us to the first reason why people feel entitled. The technology in America has sped so much up, people think that there should be something allotted to them quick and instant. They don’t realize that the technology itself that speeds so much up took a lot of time to build. And when I say time, I mean some stuff as long as decades to build.

With the click of a mouse or the touch of the screen, we are instantly taken to our destination. That can make people think something should be given to them pretty fast. But it’s not just the technology that makes people think they are owed something. This same mind frame exist in the employment field as well. This whole my 75% is your 100%, and we all should be given something when we are clearly not putting in the same amount of work. A trend that has started from schools in children and has followed all the way into their adulthood. Now that you’re in the real world, you don’t realize that you’re not special. No one is going to hold you close and tell you everything is going to be alright. And that’s when you learn you’re not this beautiful and talented person, but more so that you are mundane because you have not put real time and energy into being great at what you do.

And you would think with what has been said so far, the owing stops there; no it doesn’t. People feel that you have made money, so it is your job to give them something. In their minds, “You have it, why not give me something.” Then they try to use the excuse of God blesses you to help other people. When in reality, that’s true, but there is something they are leaving out. God blesses people to help those who have made an initiative to put themselves in a better place. Giving people things without making them earn it causes you to be a crutch and it cripples them. It also creates a lack of respect that the person has for something you do give to them.

See, in the end, you want something in life, you have to be willing to go into the world and stake your own claim. Because the only person who has a stake in interest in you doing anything is you. I used to ask questions of the elders about back in their young days. I remember how my late grandmother would say growing up in the South, everybody had some plot of land. Didn’t matter how big or small, it still fed your family. And it was important you tended to your land since it depended on how you and your family ate. Because if your crop didn’t come through, your family didn’t eat. You were not owed anything and no one cared. Life was tough, but it was fair because we all have the capability to get out the bed and work. What’s that saying, we all have 24 hours in a day, what you choose to do with yours is your business.


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LIVING UP TO EXPECTATIONS: SHOULD I LISTEN TO OTHERS OR FOLLOW THE BEAT OF MY OWN DRUM

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“Stuck between what they think and how I think.”


Trying to please other people or live by how they view you is a struggle that most of us deal with on a daily basis. But if you’re one of the the few that are not as caught up in how others perceive you, you might have a happier life than most. And that happiness could be the main factor in your success in life. But what is it that makes people so stuck on what others think of them? Why do they need so many people’s approval before they start anything in life? It’s this need to fit into a world that might not even be doing you a favor. Yet you want so desperately to fit into this space.

One of the reasons people work to fit into this space is because as a species, we yearn for acceptance. But most of all, we want some form of companionship. It does not necessarily have to be some intimate relationship. But just enough so you don’t feel alone in the world. That lonesome feeling is why you need that other person or people’s input. Going through this world alone is one of the toughest aspects of facing life. You don’t even have to be dealing with a serious financial or health issue. We as humans are just built to want someone close to us. Someone who will talk to us when there is something bothering us. And who+ are you to communicate with when you’re alone?

Another reason we seek to gain the acceptance of other people is to not be looked at as an outsider. This is an action in our lives that adolescence deal with for the most part. But it doesn’t stop there; it goes into adulthood. You actually don’t start not caring how people feel until you’re almost done with life. But why not when you’re young? Why not have it built into your mind that this is who I am, and that’s that? Well, it has a lot to do with self-awareness. We are quite unaware of ourselves and lack a real defense mechanism. So we are not able to fend off the people who might look at us a certain way. Instead of making people accept you for you, and if they don’t get rid of them, we please them. Then again, the feat of listening to yourself and not others becomes real tough when it’s coming from family.

Here is the hardest part, going against your parent’s wishes. You have been taught since you were a child that going against what your parents want you do is being disobedient. But like I said in prior posts, parents know what’s good for in childhood, not as an adult. Yet when you become an adult it’s normal for them to want to steer you in a certain direction. But what if you found what you love elsewhere? Now you’re in this weird position on who to follow. You’re stuck on following your inner self or your parents. But ultimately, the choice will be up to you. See, in the end, we want to please too many people. Yet, how many people are trying to bend over backward to please you? You have to do what’s best for you, and you only. Because you’re the only one responsible for your success and happiness.


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FIVE IN THE STREET: HOW TO PLAY LIFE WITH HAND YOU’RE DEALT

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“Just because you were born at the bottom, doesn’t mean you have to stay at the bottom.”


For myself, as with many like myself, I am starting my life from humble beginnings. And when I say humble beginnings, I mean growing up poor. My mother is what you would call the working poor. Where one missed day of work, one sick day could have placed her, my two sisters, and myself in a homeless shelter, or worse in the street. But does that mean our lives have to stay that way? No, it does not. Because living in America, we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. My two siblings are currently steadfast in their careers, and am actively pursuing my own path in life. So if you’ve been dealt a bad hand, how do you win with that hand?

Well, for starters, it comes by way of education. At a young age, my mother started to invest in our education. And when I say invest, she didn’t have money set aside for us as children. But she did make sure that the schools we went to were good enough and safe enough. She waited in lines to enroll us in school. She didn’t sleep in the bed and not make an effort to get us into a good school. She made it her mission, at times sacrificing her own well-being. Even though we were in public school, with my oldest sister attending private in high school, the schools were decent. The school wasn’t a place where all the kids were focused on being cool kids. You were encouraged to expand your mind past how you were being perceived by your peers. So you were able to focus on your education.

So now that education was taken care of, my mother cultivated a household where our minds could grow. At a young age she would take us to the library where we took part in various activities: reading, writing, and putting together puzzles (which was an activity I loved). We even had times on Friday nights when she would have long conversations with us about life. Little did I know those conversations and those weekend trips to the library were getting us prepared to deal in life. It taught me patients, hard work, persistence, and dedication. In addition, I also have to not forget those trips to the zoo and museums, where we were encouraged to have an open mind to many different cultures and experiences.

So now that my sisters and myself are adults we can pursue our own endeavors with the confidence needed up to this point to succeed. So what does all this have to do with winning with a bad hand; well, a lot. Everything that I was taught growing up, in combination with my own cultivated intellect, we have always been able to prosper. Now, everyone did not grow up in a household where their talents were nurtured. Some people have some very tough lives that are far beyond my life. But understand, that your story and my story is not unique. There is always someone that looks like you, and have come from where you have come from to succeed. So in the end, there is always going to be people dealt a bad hand. Some will overcome their struggle and others won’t. Sadly enough, that’s just some of the outcomes of life.


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UNDERSTANDING YOUR PAST FOR A BETTER FUTURE

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“Moving toward the future, from understanding your past.”


Why do people find it so hard to move forward in their lives? One of the reasons is they have yet to come to terms with their past. And don’t get me wrong, your past does not automatically translate into future. But something that has happened in your past is a reason you make your decisions today. And if you are not able to understand this past, then how will you move forward. For instance, a woman might be trying to figure out why she has such bad experiences with men. Then she realizes she never had a relationship with her own father. And as the old saying goes, you link up with, as a man or woman, your previous relationship with a parent.

Now that’s an interesting concept; you wind-up with your parent. Because choosing a potential spouse is such a daunting task in itself. So who raises you from childhood to adulthood is crucial. Now, there is no guarantee that you’re going to have a great relationship if you’re raised with these great parents. But statistically, those raised in two parent households go off to have more successful marriages. And if you are having problems with your relationships or finding a successful relationship, look into your own life. Where in your life is there a link between you and your parent. You might also have been raised in good surroundings, but other aspects like controlling parents or not enough transparency didn’t prepare you for monogamy.

What about other aspects of your past that could affect your future. Issues that you have that keep you from advancing in your career. Very rarely have past performances that are poor, lead to future good performances. Unless, you recognize the past poor performances and correct them for the future. For instance, I am currently working on my next short film. My first one was ok, but there are some things I need to correct for my next one. If I am making the same mistakes, then I have not learned my lesson. So career choices in the future can haunt you if not curbed early on. But small things we tend to avoid, and later make those mistakes that effect in a much greater way years later.

Then again, is coming to grips with your past always lending itself to family situations and career? No, other reasons you look into your past, could be how to make the decisions for the future. You want to learn how to save money, well, analyze your past poor monetary choices. You want to buy a house, then lose the ways of renting because you’re the boss now. In the end, we all have something in our past that can determine the outcome of our future. It might be something as simple as adjusting your monetary expenses or fixing your love life. No matter what, be willing to look into your past and figure out what’s holding you down from accomplishing your future goals.


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