Stubborn: A RIELL Guest Blog

I don’t think I heard any word growing up more than the word “stubborn”. I know a lot of the time it was most likely directed at me in frustration: when I wouldn’t listen or pay attention to my authority figures, when I wouldn’t follow the rules, when I refused to do things other people’s way. I don’t know if I just misunderstood the word growing up, but I really enjoyed being called stubborn, taking it to mean I was determined, strong, focused and motivated, even though that is not the definition by any stretch. I can only guess this was probably due to a lack of understanding and valuing limits and boundaries. Maybe it was a lack of the maturity needed to understand that ending things or moving on or switching focus doesn’t mean you’re quitting; maybe it means you have gained enough wisdom to know when to cut losses and to understand the intrinsic value of what things are worth in terms of your personal cost.

Even still it’s hard to tell when you’re being stubborn or extremely determined. I don’t think I would have gotten to this point in music had I not been stubborn. My family, teachers, and many people I’m supposed to look up to always told me music isn’t a viable career. It was only something for other people. I could never make a career out of something so unstable. And while I definitely heard them, I couldn’t stop even when I wanted to, and here I am averaging 75 million streams and plays across platforms, charting over 100 times across the world, and having my music heard by close to a million people every month on Spotify alone. I would probably be viewed as stubborn in terms of music if I had not received any level of success, but instead I am now told I am determined and motivated. Still, I recognize the negative side when stubborn doesn’t look so great; it’s just so hard to tell the difference between being stubborn and determined and is something I still struggle with.

I wrote the song “Stubborn” with Tatiana Zagorac (artist name Talltale) about this concept. It was inspired by both of us sharing a tendency to take our natural determination too far into the realm of being stubborn when it comes to our personal relationships. We will force a feeling even when everything tells us we shouldn’t, and it’s sad because there isn’t a happy ending and all the red flags we ignored or tried to fix due to our stubbornness still came out red in the wash. “Stubborn” is about trying to play God in a way. Trying to make pieces fit where they don’t. Trying to change or “fix” people into who they’re not. Being blind to warnings. Being stubborn.

It has always been at the cost of ourselves. Our mental health, our self-worth. So here’s to learning and growth, changing perspectives and progress. My upcoming album, PARADISE, and all the music videos my team and I made for it are about an obsession with this topic. I’m not the same person now as I was at the beginning of creating this album, and I hope you can find a piece of yourself somewhere along this journey so you don’t feel like you’re walking it alone.