Unfiltered - How To Perservere Through Opposition


Lily Heaton

Lily is a writer, photographer and allround creative. For more of Lily's work visit www.lilyheaton.com. Follow Lily on Instagram to keep up with her daily (creative) life: @lilywanderlust

The Things We Don't Share

The series “The Things We Don’t Share”, is all about sharing the unsharable. The unfiltered.

Often, we only see (or share) the perfected, final result, such as an eye-catching design or a synchronized performance. However, what we actually end up sharing with the world is only the tip of the iceberg. The real magic happens below the surface during the creative process, in moments where inspiration, dedication, and challenges take form.

I sat down with Holly Harman, an Amsterdam based, classical violinist to chat about the grind behind her glamour. 

From sacrifice to success

As freelancers, we turn our passion into a career by visualizing a dream that drives us to push harder, work longer and share something unique with the world. In order to establish, shape and maintain that dream, we engage in a variety of challenges along the way. Since age five, Holly has dedicated her time to playing the violin, resulting in her career as a classical musician for more than 12 years. She performs with international orchestras and also with her folk band, The Twisted Twenty. 

It took an immense amount focus and dedication to achieve success, from long days of rehearsals, to working with challenging personalities and of course, the financial struggle that many creatives face at some point in their career. Managing those slow periods is challenging but an inevitable part of freelancing. Holly’s solution? Maintain your passion and find something you can do in-between projects. “In the past, I taught music,” she says, “I’ve always been curious about massage therapy. So, last year I became a certified masseuse and now, I run my massage therapy business while I’m in-between tours.”  

My passion for music is forever, yet a frustrating circumstance is only temporary.
— Holly Harman

Creative challenges

The life of a professional musician holds its fair share of challenges. Before the audience becomes immersed in a musical fantasy, classical musicians spend endless hours working to perfect their skills and of course, auditioning. Holly mentions, “If you’re on trial for an orchestra, the rehearsals last up to 3 months. It takes weeks of training to perfect your best performance and the audition is over in 10 minutes.” The process of putting yourself out there can sometimes be nerve-wracking and intimidating. Holly advises to keep your head up, telling us, “If someone doesn't respond the way you expected, it doesn't mean you’re bad at what you do. It means you don't fit into their particular expectations. With time and experience, you learn. So, keep that bigger picture in mind and keep pushing towards growth.”

The opportunity to explore new places while working our dream job is a fantasy for many of us, but life on the road isn’t sunshine and rainbows all the time. “This summer, I traveled with a few different orchestras through Germany, France and Spain. It was excellent!” However, she says, “I spent many weeks away from home, working a chaotic schedule and staying in unexpected places. The audience gets to enjoy great music but they may not realize that we’re traveling for weeks on end. Even with a flexible personality that’s adaptable to varied environments, traveling non-stop becomes exhausting.” What about the moment before the curtain opens? “It’s so exciting!” she says, “I still get a bit nervous, we all do. Then, I walk onto the stage and it hits me that I am living my dream — to perform music I love and share it with the world.” 

Overcoming obstacles

No matter where we stand in our careers, we all face internal and external challenges. Sometimes, things don’t work out as expected and on other occasions, our own self-doubt may bring us down. That’s why it’s crucial to keep that vision of the bigger picture in mind. Holly advises that, “You have to take challenges in stride and be confident that you put your best effort into your work.” When it comes to facing rejection and maintaining self-confidence, she advises to stay the course, “My passion for music is forever, yet a frustrating circumstance is only temporary.” Holly says, “In the past, I have been completely broken by negative professional experiences. From that, over time I learned to be really strong, because a challenge forces you to put 200% into your vision and hold on to your dream with all your might.”  

Building self-assurance like Holly comes from taking on new, challenges, learning along the way and accepting that no matter what, everyone struggles from time to time because it takes sacrifice to succeed.