Words: Francisco Gonçalves Silva

Featured image: Ellie Rohleder

Let’s just say it out loud: we’ve all been through times in our lives where we’ve just wanted to reach out and do more. Yet most times, our own mental spiralling holds us back in the corner. We’re not good enough; we don’t do enough; we can only do so much. We’re our own worst enemy – and the act of letting go can be the toughest one of all.

The way this relates to our artistic expression lies in a complex and emotional part of our humanity, sometimes beyond our own understanding. I’m no psychologist or therapist. I studied culture and politics and ended up doing music journalism and communications. But I am a person, and I have struggled to express myself creatively and emotionally.

When I relocated from Lisbon to the artistic hub of Berlin, I sometimes wondered, even before settling properly, why this was. A quarter-life crisis? A lack of stimulation, or fear? Maybe. But I always knew I had the will and the chops for it. There will always be self-doubt, but from my turmoil came valuable lessons that I’d happily share with anyone feeling the same way.

Take the first steps. A touch more experience, the right people to share ideas with and being in the right space can unlock a brand new world – one you didn’t even know you could experience. Small improvements can lead to grand achievements and in turn validate you as a creative being.

Do things wrong. As much as fear and a lack of self-esteem can be the shackles holding you back, by not acting you’re not allowing yourself to make valuable mistakes. It took me a while to let go of the little contradictory voice in my head, saying that it’s not okay to fail. But it is. Just ask those who’ve failed before you, and those who surely will after. Does it matter? Not really.

Get yourself out there and find the right environment, one that inspires you to be a better version of yourself. Allow yourself to trust in the skills you’ve earned and talents you were given. If you accept yourself, others will too, and you can watch your sense of freedom and possibility expand. Allow yourself to create organically and dispose of preconceived notions of right and wrong. Such limitations are social constructs at odds with your artistic freedom.

Trust your gut, be kind to yourself and allow time for growth. Just do it – and do it, exclusively, for yourself.

Francisco writes for In Stereo, The 405 and more, as well as fronting the Berlin-based Szalazar.

Listen to ‘A Road That Winds’ by Szalazar here: