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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Rakel

The art of being yourself

Just a creative girl, living in a corporate world…transitioning my creative mind back into the corporate culture I grew up in.

When I made the decision to move back to Switzerland, it was done with a lot of consideration. For the past decade, I’ve used the place I’ve grown up in, as a springboard for my various relocations. When friends or family suggested I make my stays permanent, I remained set in my decision to move on.

After doing my master’s in international marketing in London, I spent 5 months in Switzerland before moving back to Copenhagen. I argued that I had started my music career there and over the last 3 years had started to gain a network. Unsure of the Swiss music scene and my ability to fit into the corporate community, I felt Copenhagen offered more openness to creative individuals like myself.

Then one day in February 2020, I woke up in my Copenhagen apartment and had a very physical sensation of not feeling comfortable in Denmark anymore. While it wasn’t an instant “I have to move back to Switzerland now”, the seed was planted and the desire to be back with my family, friends, four-legged friends and immersed in Swiss nature, became stronger with each passing day. I felt I had been a wanderer for 10 years and there was a deep need to feel settled and a sense of belonging.

Committing to my own path

Home, to me, is the small canton of Zug. Known for its low tax rate, many international companies choose to set up their headquarters here. I grew up in a suit-and-tie world, and when I entered my early twenties and started my music endeavours, I started to break rank within the community. My tattoos (although quite small) get a cock of the eyebrow and my career as a singer-songwriter is rarely taken seriously. I have been “advised” on several occasions to remove the title from my CV or at least disguise my career with a fancy corporate-esque title. And I did. I’ve also been told to close down my blog and my social media accounts. So basically, every outlet where I show my talent for writing and creativity/where I demonstrate my skills, should be erased…that does indeed make for a very sparse CV then.

I knew that when I moved back to Switzerland, I would have to be prepared to be poked and prodded and, in order to withstand, I’d need to have a very strong sense of self.

I imagine a white iridescent silo going straight through my body. The silo is my belief system and my values. When I start to doubt myself, I return to this belief system and remind myself that I have not committed years to understanding myself (read as: 15 years of therapy), only to be squashed by people who are afraid to look in their own mirror and accept different ways of being in this world. A couple of weeks ago, an image of a pie chart started circulating on LinkedIn and on my

Instagram (see image). You’re probably familiar with it. Two slices that we are taught to hold at the highest regard (job title and salary) are reduced to the smallest slices in favour of prioritising mental health, physical health, free time and liking what you do. And I couldn’t agree more.

In many parts of the world, my look, passions and values wouldn’t so much as receive the batting of eyelids, but I certainly don’t fit the bill here. I understand why so many people don’t fully commit to who they desire to be. Society has carved out a neat path and if you start to veer outside its lines, there’s an almost vicious cacophony of opinions.

I am getting a hand tattoo this week. After my consultation, my father rang and asked where I had been. When I told him, he “tsked” and pleaded with me to wait. I know why; for one he doesn’t like tattoos and I also believe he occupies the mindset that if I have tattoos, I won’t land a job. He’s probably not wrong. But I don’t believe in existing in an environment where your capabilities and skill level is judged by your appearance. Until I make living off of making music a reality (it will happen) I must find a job. With tattoos on my hands, my father is right, the range of jobs I can apply for dwindles significantly. But I don’t want to work for someone who feels they have the right to tell their employees what to do with their bodies. Think about it, isn’t it really strange that you would stop doing something to your body/living the way you want because the person paying your salary isn’t in agreement with it? That despite possessing the skill level, the right attitude, the commitment to carrying out the task and having a groomed appearance, you’re not given the chance because of a permanent ink design that is visible? Unless the design is of genitals or a hate symbol, I find the attitude outdated and draconian.

Job searching, is for the most part, always a difficult task, but factor in corona virus and the situation is a little more dire. With so many layoffs the past 12 months, competition has become even more fierce. My experience within the music industry doesn’t seem to count for much, but last week I erased the fancy title I had been advised to put down and simply put “singer-songwriter”. Enough is enough. I am proud to be a singer-songwriter, and seven years in the industry counts for something. Clearly, there is a lack of understanding as to how much effort goes into being an independent artist. As an independent artist, I’d argue, that creating the music is the easy and least time-consuming part. It’s everything that surrounds releasing and promoting your tracks and yourself as an artist, that occupies the bulk of your time…you end up possessing a massive skill set (communications, social media content creation, budgeting, organisational skills, planning, photography, videography…you get the point- you do a lot of DIY activities) from having to release and promote your music by yourself. Not to mention a hefty number of lessons in stamina and perseverance.

But I love what I do, so I keep on going and trying out new strategies.

A never ending journey of self-exploration

I needed to leave Switzerland to find myself. It sounds cliché, but it was as if there were too many opinions around me for me to tune into what it was I wanted. When I made the decision to come back, I knew I was coming back to be the person I have become, not to be moulded into something that feels more appropriate to the setting. I have nothing against the suit and tie world; if your dream is to be in that world, by all means, do it. But I don’t want to be part of that world and that should also be okay and not deemed as a failure. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I believe my purpose on earth is to be honest about the human experience. That means being vulnerable, talking emotion and being interested in people’s personal stories. I try and live my life honestly and with grace…the latter is hard because I’m incredibly clumsy, but alas, I try.

When my hour comes to leave this earth, I want to close my eyes knowing I did my best to live the life I wanted, not one that was about pleasing those around me and meeting others’ expectations of what an acceptable lifestyle is. I want to know I tried my best to be the best version of myself and that I never stopped striving for a better relationship with myself.

To be yourself is probably one of the bravest and boldest acts of self-love you can undertake. It’s like taking the training wheels off of a bike. While it’s nice to be supported and validated, it’s not essential to you living on your own terms. You have to be your own biggest cheerleader, and when the world feels like it’s against you, don’t cave – breathe and continue on the journey that is right for you. You are allowed to be your own unique self. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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