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mentors: part one

My first mentor was an incredible lady named Shannan Hatch. She is currently the VP of creative services at the performance-rights organization SESAC, but when I met her, she was still working in songwriter relations. I was 16 when my dad went with me to her office for my first ever meeting on music row in Nashville. I remember bringing my acoustic guitar and playing her a song I wrote by myself called “Clockwork”. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds. But she listened, absorbed, critiqued, and praised that song, just like she would do for hundreds more in the years to come (and still does to this day). She put me in rooms and meetings with writers and publishers that I didn’t think I was ready for, but the fact that she put me there made me believe I could hold my own. And I did. Shannan is so good at recognizing potential early in the game, and then shaping and directing talent in a loving way. 

A mentor/mentee relationship only works if you leave your ego at home. This took me a little while to learn, because I am a sensitive artist and everything I create is SPECIAL AND BEAUTIFUL. The first few times that someone like Shannan poked holes in my art, I felt wounded, even though they had the best intentions and only wanted to see me improve. It’s definitely easier to write songs in your bedroom and only play them for your best friend and watch YouTube tutorials on how to play the guitar. But in order to truly grow and maximize our skill set, we need real-life people around us who have more experience and wisdom than we do. They’re the ones who will push us and keep us on the path that is uniquely ours—which is the one thing the internet will never be able to do.



I’ve always been an introvert. Most of my childhood was spent hiding in my ice-cream-themed-bedroom, writing and dreaming (and scheming). The adult version looks pretty much the same—except it includes my sacred routine of leaving parties early to go home and wrap myself in a blanket of silence. 

I’m okay with it now, but it took me awhile to accept it. I was jealous of my friends who could go out and talk to strangers for hours without feeling mentally drained. I assumed that as I got older, I would naturally become more social, but so far the result has been quite the opposite. I’m obsessed with exploring the far corners of my mind and stretching the boundaries of my knowledge. But the more that I learn about the world around me, the more sensitive I become to it. The background noise becomes louder. The colors get brighter. I think that if I only saw and talked to two people a day, I would feel satisfied.

The lesson I have learned from all of this, and what I want to share with you, is that your personality and your tendencies don’t have to be “normal”. They become normal when you choose to embrace them and use them to your advantage. I spent so much time feeling frustrated with myself for wanting to be alone, until I realized that being alone is my superpower. I have created layers of sounds and visuals from a space in my mind that is only reachable in solitude. That’s pretty epic. Maybe I’m not coming to your party—but I’m gonna write a song called “I’m Not Coming To Your Party”. And maybe it’s gonna be the 3rd single from my album. Hint hint.

I challenge you this week to really think about what your strengths are. Think about the ways that you can be more you, even if it feels weird at first. Don’t let anybody convince you to go out or stay in—listen to your gut and make your own choice. Oh, and listen to the song “Normal” by Sasha Sloan. She’s the queen of the introverts and the narrator of my life.