Recently someone called to book me for a really cool event. It sounded like a fun conference for the kind of people who enjoy my show and I was available. But I turned it down.
They didn't have the right stage and the venue didn't work well with my requirements. I always make sure my sound, lighting, staging, and scheduling fits in with what I do. And if I can't make it happen I always try to recommend someone who can. It’s far easier to point the organizer in a better direction than try to alter what I do to fit their event.
I turn down a lot of gigs. If it doesn't fit my act, I really don't want to do it. I don't want to give people a sub-par performance. I want to do the types of events that allow me to give the best performance possible. Plus, eliminating events that stress me out has really improved my mental health.
In the past few years I've been struggling with extreme anxiety and depression. Dealing with difficult clients and unsatisfactory gigs has only made it worse. I care so deeply about giving people a memorable experience that I end up having a panic attack whenever anything goes wrong.
Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, my heart and mind racing because of something small that happened during a recent show. When there are too many variables out of my control, I know it's going to affect me in negative ways.
So I've been removing those variables. I’ve been screening my gigs more thoroughly and only taking the ones that won't make me anxious.
I hate giving advice, but here's what I've learned: You don’t have to be everything at once for all people everywhere. Find your niche and focus your efforts on doing whatever that might be. Saying “no” to stuff that makes you unhappy will always end up making you happier in the long run.