Don't Compare. Be Aware.
Episode 25 ft. Antwaun Stanley | Singer/Songwriter
Happy New Week Pals🙋🏿♂️,
I hope the words in this newsletter are able to comfort you as you recover from the long weekend’s festivities👀.
On episode 25, I have a #CreativeConversation with my pal, Antwaun Stanley, a singer/songwriter from Flint, MI. Aside from peaking at 22 on the Billboard charts with his debut solo album, "I Can Do Anything", Antwaun is most notably known for his frequent collaborations with the American funk band, Vulfpeck.
In this episode, Antwaun talks about:
- his mom finding out he could sing at the age of 3
- navigating the music industry at a young age
- exploring different genres of music
- when to expect some new solo music
- and why you shouldn't compare yourself to others
While Antwaun’s mother was singing Amazing Grace in the kitchen, she paused to focus on another task, but instead of silence, she heard the gospel tune continue with the voice of her 3-year-old son. In shock, she stopped everything and immediately contacted her family and friends, “MY BABY CAN SING!”
From this moment, Antwaun Stanley’s singing career began.
He started by singing at churches and other events in his community before branching out to talent competitions such as the Flint Talent Show where he won the cash prize of $1,000 at 8 years old, the 1996 Motown-BET Talent Search, The Queen Latifah Show, and Showtime at the Apollo.
Yet, despite all his accolades and talent, Antwaun is one of the nicest and most humble people you’ll ever meet. He credits it mostly to how he was raised by his mother who had him at the age of 15. Their close relationship is how he was able to handle a lot of the pressure and music industry challenges that came with being a young star. She also instilled in him the importance of education despite being on the verge of dropping a Billboard charting album. This led Antwaun to attend the University of Michigan to study Classic Music and Sociology.
While at Michigan, Antwaun was able to pursue his other musical interests such as opera, acapella, and funk. Coming from a gospel background, Antwaun at times struggled with the feeling of being pigeonholed to only sing Gospel-type music. He was initially hesitant, but as he slowly started to meet and work with other singers/groups, he eventually gained the confidence to try new things. This confidence mixed with his attention-catching singing ability led him to collaborate with music groups such as Ann Street Soul, Groove Spoon, and most notably Vulfpeck.
Although Antwaun has already accomplished a lot than most do in 34 years, he doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. His love for singing and songwriting goes beyond the awards. With a short EP on the way and a full album in the works for 2022, his goal is to continue making music for as long as he can.
Because my interviews are focused on my guests telling their story, I try to give them as much Talking Time as possible. “My Takeaways” is a space for me to share my thoughts on the interview.
How to not COMPARE but still be AWARE
This was my first episode that wasn’t recorded live, and I think it was a sign because Antwaun’s computer actually died during our first attempt 😭. And although I’ll miss reading the live commentary, I actually like the freedom that comes with recording whenever I choose. My goal in the upcoming months is to start releasing weekly episodes instead of just biweekly, and this pivot will allow me to stay creative and do just that.
Speaking of “staying creative”, during the interview, I asked Antwaun how he stays creative and he responded by saying
Don’t compare yourself to others, but still listen to those that inspire you so that you’re aware of what’s out there.
This spoke to me because from a creator perspective, comparing myself to others in the podcasting space is honestly how I’ve learned how to do almost everything such as purchasing podcast equipment, editing my audio and video, and conducting an interview. But I’d be lying if I didn’t also admit that I’ve compared myself to others by looking at analytics such as monthly downloads, followers, or just overall engagement.
So when Antwaun said “Don’t compare, but be aware”, I thought about how much I let the comparing get to me at times. In a perfect world, I should view the creators I follow/subscribe to as a source of knowledge instead of a scale to weigh my own adequacy. But, the world’s not perfect and we’re all human… so 💩 happens. But I want to use this next sentence as a reminder to myself and anybody else who might relate:
Everybody has their own path and constantly comparing yourself to others can make you forget to acknowledge your own accomplishments and the great strides you’ve made to get to where you are today.
And the funny thing is, there are probably people comparing themselves to you and feeling inadequate so think about the irony in that for a second.
It’s Not Just Creators
Although I’m speaking from a creator’s perspective, comparing is something WE ALL DO. At face value, comparison isn’t bad, but when comparing yourself to others makes you feel bad, that’s when you gotta check yourself and ask “Why?”
I had a conversation with my girlfriend about this topic recently, and we both agreed that a large factor contributing to Comparison Culture is social media. It’s kinda tragic how scrolling through your timeline can turn your great day into a subpar day:
you finally reached your Emergency Fund goal 😁
but somebody just posted about their 1000% daily gain from their investments in Bitcoin😕
you were able to take bae for a little cute weekend in Fort Lauderdale 😁
but somebody just posted about their Luxury Couple’s Getaway in the South of France 😕
you just started going back to gym, and you’ve lost a couple pounds 😁
but somebody just posted how they lost 50 lbs in 3 months and their body is looking snatched 😩 😕
I can keep going, but hopefully, you get the point.
Life is relative and nuanced, but that’s not a sexy caption, so we tend to forget this as we wake up, turn over, grab our phone, and open our social media app of choice to see how others are living.
A Challenge To You
If any of this feels like a personal attack, good. Because I want to challenge you to do something for one full day: DELETE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA APPS.
“But Pooooooool, how I am gonna stay up-to-date with your sick ass content bro🥺?”
I understand, but sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the greater good. And I say “we” because I’m not innocent myself, so I will also be participating in my own modified* version of this challenge.
“But Pooooooool, how I am gonna stay up-to-date with what’s trending🤨?”
Nice try, but you don’t NEED social media apps to be informed. Yes, they can do a good job of informing us about what’s going on, but I’ll bet money you don’t NEED all that information you’re constantly consuming.
So before you think of another excuse, try out this challenge, and reply to me tomorrow with how the experience was. Would love to share responses with the rest of the pals :)
I lowkey need my social media accounts for podcast promo and all that, so I’ve decided to set a screen time limit instead. Even though this won’t necessarily stop me from getting on the social media apps, I know if I’m constantly getting a notification about reaching my limit, I got a problem bucko :/.
I love hearing from all the Pals whether it’s critique or compliments, so let me know what you think of the podcast and/or newsletter by replying to this email or leaving a review on the new Pol and Pals website!
NEXT EPISODE… On the next episode of Pol and Pals, my pal and I will have a creative conversation about freelance photography as a side hustle, how to obtain clients, and how to know when to pivot.