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Mental Health Awareness Week: How to balance yourself as an artist vs. a person

Find balance between your many roles

  • Fenny Nadorp
  • 17 May 2019

Fenny Nadorp is an entertainment and creative industry life coach with more than a decade of experience. She has been trained by neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) legend Tony Robbins, Chloé Madanes, Magali and Mark Peysha. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, she has teamed up with Mixmag for a series of topic discussions that artists, industry members and fans alike face to create and encourage a safe environment to openly discuss mental health issues.


Who are you? A performer, singer, DJ, producer? A dad or a mom, a spouse, a brother or a sister, a song or a daughter? An entrepreneur, a boss, a mentor, a friend? As you can see, you're probably not just one.

We all have different roles - at home, at work, with friends and with your partner, kids and family. With each role comes different responsibilities. All too often, we try to play each role perfectly, but being pulled across so many responsibilities can mean inevitably disappointing someone. Despite potential drawbacks, researchers have found that playing multiple roles can not only be gratifying, but also can enhance our performance as we develop broader skill sets and social support networks.

Day to day, managing multiple roles can lead to role conflict and time pressures that add to daily stress and strain. Multiple responsibilities compete for our attention, with time spent on one role often coming at the expense of time spent on another.

It's no surprise then that juggling multiple hats can feel overwhelming. My own experience - as a mom, life coach, public speaker, moderator, consultant, student counselor, wife, daughter, sister, friend and finally as my own person - can often make me feel like I can't breathe.

For a touring artist, the persona and brand you create becomes yet another important role to adopt for fans and the public eye. As an artist, you become "public property" in the eyes of many fans.

Touring and being an artist is demanding not only physically, but mentally in that it forces you to neglect other roles you hold. Sometimes, this happens subconsciously and the separation between personal self and the artist persona becomes difficult to differentiate.

"People speculate on your personal life all the time anyways," Prince once famously said. "I think it's important to keep my private life private and my public persona more into music, you know?"

Think about your favorite actor. If you met them, what personality would you associate with them? If you ran into Will Smith, maybe you would think of him as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Johnny Depp might feel like Captain Jack Sparrow, but these characters aren't who they really are. However, their role playing and impact was so strong that it can often leave fans feeling as if they are that persona.

For someone living in a daily public eye persona, it can sometimes begin to take over your life. Research indicates that role conflict can lead to stress, exhaustion, burn out and lower life satisfaction for not only those of us experiencing the conflict, but also for others in our lives as well. It is important to notice when the roles start to take over, and direct your life.

Some artists choose to retire after several years of prioritising their artist persona. Last year, EDM star Hardwell announced his decision to take an indefinite break from touring and performing. "Being Hardwell 24/7 leaves too little energy, love, creativity and attention for my life as a normal person," he said.

What can you do to find balance between your own self and your artist self?

Be aware of which roles you have, and which one is overtaking. How have you created a whole brand around yourself as an artist? Are you pushing yourself to fit into an image that you want to show to the world? Or is the artist image a natural version of you? The closer you stay connected with who you truly are in each role, the easier it is to find yourself and stick with it.

One of my clients is quite timid when you meet him. He finds it difficult to socialise and network with others. However, when you begin talking about music, his eyes light up and his passion appears. On the other hand, when he's in "artist mode" at a gig, he exudes confidence and there is no sign of his timid self. He lets his passion and knowledge of music lead. Helping him to realize this allowed him to step into his role as an artist even when he wasn't performing, and allowed him to build confidence to network and grow in a personal sense.

The next step is to prioritise. List and prioritise your roles, which will help you decide which are most important to you and why.

Write down personality characteristics that you utilise in each role and add what you like about these traits. Which ones do you use more often? Would you like to add or change elements of other roles you play?

For my own role as a mom, I use the following characteristics: responsibility, organisation, scheduling, support, motivation, nurturing, patience, love, but also am direct, clear and honest.

My role as a life coach is very similar, but I also add discipline and guidance. I am also direct and clear, but also approachable, respectful, open and unafraid to ask sometimes painful or difficult questions.

Being aware of the roles that you are in will allow you to be more conscious about changing between them, and allow you to have more fun and combine them. You will be able to see your talents, traits and qualities across all roles.

Finally, it'll be important to change into roles that are not dominant. Make time for yourself, without any other obligatory role. Creating time for smaller roles will allow you to keep a clear steer on who you are as a person. Sometimes, it will call for more drastic actions like retiring or taking a serious break from other dominant roles.

Make one of your favorite roles simply being yourself. This can often be the most challenging role for myself as being a life coach, a mom and a wife feel good because I can see direct effects on others around me. However, they all take a lot of time and focusing on myself sometimes falls into the background. But focusing on me - eating healthy, exercising, and spending time with myself - makes me better in every other role too.

Embrace all your roles, switch between them and give yourself the gift of being you.

Fenny Nadorp is an entertainment and creative industry life coach, trainer and speaker based in The Netherlands. Find her on Instagram here and contact her at hello@fennynadorp.com.

Read this next!

How to stay strong in the face of negative comments
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