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You would be surprised (or maybe not,) at the amount of extremely talented youth that are hidden away in the bay area who could do amazing things with their talents if only were able break free of the fear of exposure. As an artist and musician I am constantly trying to put myself out there and share my work with whomever I can, from performing at open mics around Berkeley and Oakland to playing acoustic shows at local venues like 924 Gilman street. In doing so I have met amazing artists, as well as great friends and mentors.
In my spare time, I have been playing music, or busking, in BART stations and on street corners, trying to make myself some money. So I’ll drag my crappy, half sized guitar over to downtown Berkeley and set up my guitar case with some change in the bottom to try and give people the right idea. Some days are better than others. On a few occasions I’ve received candy rather than a quarter or two, but I am definitely not complaining, after all, this isn’t all about the money. I have learned to actually enjoy performing for others, and I love watching the occasional toddler dance along to the music. But the main perk of street performing will always be the amazing people I have met while doing so, and the crazy opportunities I’ve been given by strangers willing to take a chance on a kid who wears a little too much black.
I’ve had complete strangers sit down next to me and pull out an instrument to play along, or to play me a song of their own, always an interesting experience in downtown Berkeley, and I have stayed in touch with most of them. I have been given business cards and numbers scribbled on wrappers by people in passing, and have even had the opportunity to play at the house of two women in San Francisco, who host shows in their basement. But the thing that has stuck with me the most, out of all random kindnesses I have been shown, is when people will stop just to talk to me, people who just want to get to know me or tell me to keep going, are the ones I appreciate the most, because I have found that encouragement from strangers is always the most sincere.
This is why I will continue to encourage young artists like myself to put themselves out there and not be afraid of the exposure of the outside world. Meeting people in your community with similar interests as you who can help you to grow as a person and an artist is the most beneficial thing you can do for yourself. Whether you are selling your drawings on street corners or haggling passerby’s to buy your mix tape or check out your sound cloud, the best thing you can do for yourself is to put yourself out there and see what happens.