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“I never said it would be easy. I only said it would be worth it.”

Mae West

Last year ended on a high: I launched a new album, played on my dream stage, looked back on a year that contained so many highlights that made all the hard work I’d put in so satisfying, and looked forward to a year of possibility. Despite the uphill battle that this fight has been since the beginning, I still felt like I was living a dream, like I was making progress.

It’s amazing the difference a year makes.

After 3½ years of this constant fight, of soldiering on, of fierce believing, of courage and hope, this year has broken me. Now let me say from the start, this doesn’t mean I’m giving up. I would rather be miserable doing something I love, than be miserable doing something I hate. But I remember a girl who would never have stood for that. And don’t get me wrong, I still believe in what I’m doing, it’s who I am, I just don’t know how to do it anymore.

A lot happens in the collection of days that make up a year, and I have certainly been busy. There is, however, a big difference between being busy and doing well, and people don’t always realise that. I temporarily moved cities for part of the year to see if that would make a difference. It didn’t. The grass is, in fact, never greener. I put on a brave face over and over again despite the audiences that still never arrive, despite the financial strain of bad attendance and cancellations, despite realities behind the scenes interfering in my headspace, and despite the heartbreak that inevitably results because you can’t help but take it all personally. It’s tricky when your work is so intensely intertwined with who you are. I wrote an article for Rolling Stone about the no-show reality that we face as performers and I’m not entirely sure everyone realised how often that is actually the case, but I’m proud of that vulnerable space and what I proved to myself in writing so honestly. Still, nothing has changed.

I have hung on to every milestone, explored every new opportunity, in the hope that somehow it would make a difference, but nothing has changed. What I have learned is that sometimes trying to do everything on your own, as brave and admirable as that may be, will eventually just make you feel lonely. I am grateful that I can do what I do, and I’m so proud of what I have accomplished, but after almost 120,000km of perpetual touring and promotion, a “small victory” on tour should be a lot bigger than an audience of 20 people. There is only so much one person can do, and my voice doesn’t get any louder. When you’re trying everything you can think of, but facing the same reality countless times, eventually you’re going to feel like the titanium reinforced wall you’ve been hitting your head against actually extends into deep infinite space. Eventually you’re going to need a nap.

Everything is relative. There are so many moments from this year that have made me smile, that have changed and grown me. There are people who have made my days brighter, who have made the fight so much more bearable; and there are beautiful stories that connect my music to the world that it touches. And it’s not like there aren’t things to look forward to; there are some dream-come-true projects and collaborations in the pipeline for next year. But I have lost my fire, my drive, and my passion, and find myself cynical, exhausted, and hopeless. And that is not who I am. So, instead of the five week tour I booked for the season, I’m taking some me time to pull myself toward myself. Aside from two shows in George for Christmas and New Year, I’ll be doing some introspection and course correction (and napping, and not driving), and I’ll be writing some new music to process the cloud in my head, and searching for the girl who believed. She’s in there somewhere.
South African. Kawai Pianist. Vocal Artist. TEDx Speaker. Copywriter. Gamer. LEGO nut. Organised chaos controller. WordPress designer. Pro scuba diver and occasional mermaid.

Currently on a break from fulltime touring, Shannon Hope is utilising her other talents in digital creative spaces… but there will be another studio album, and some exclusive performances every now and then. It’s not over. It’s just different.
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