January 17, 2021

CJ Masciantonio

Mind of Mash: A Mantra of Open-Mindedness in 2021


It's easy to get lost in the craziness of recent events, especially those over the course of 2020 and the start of 2021. Last year was one marked with uncertainty and stress. Unfortunately, it seems the instability may not be going away just yet. Many people have lost jobs or altered careers because of the ongoing pandemic. Lifestyles have drastically changed for nearly everyone across the globe. For many, it's an adjustment that is still taking some getting used to.

Such is the same for me in many regards, especially concerning my career. As a touring musician, I am used to being away for months at a time throughout the year. With recent events, nearly all live music is on hold, and it’s difficult to speculate when things will return to normal. Because of this, I am hunkered down at home most of the time, working remotely with my other job. It’s a major change in my life that has been psychologically challenging. It has also been a significant learning experience that’s allowed me to grow mentally.

One of the biggest lessons I've learned from all of this is that nothing in life is guaranteed. However, we can ensure ourselves some clarity by going into 2021 with an open mind to new ways of living, thinking, and coping. Doing so will bring us closer to some level of normalcy, even if the world is far from normal.

Overcoming an Unwelcome Reality Through Self-Awareness and Empowerment

Early 2020 brought me a massive reality check. I had just gotten home from a tour in March, right when COVID-19 really started to take effect on the world. I was worried that I would be quarantined coming home overseas. Thankfully, I made it back with little trouble. The flight home was bittersweet in that I was happy to be back seeing my friends and family, but I also knew that it would probably be the last time for a while that I could do what I love.

I became angry, sad, and most of all, largely unaccepting of the new reality to come. This state of mind made the first few months back home difficult. I was slowly getting busier with my other job, but nothing compared to the fulfillment I experienced doing what I really loved with music. My motivation was heavily lacking. Even my bosses could sense it. My feelings of being defeated in life interfered with my willingness to change and adapt. In my mind, my sense of purpose was pulled away from me. I felt like I was just floating through life waiting for things to go back to how they were.

I was at an all-time low.

Finally, after a while, I decided to make some positive changes. I was at my breaking point and knew that something had to be done.

I started out small by going back to the gym. Some time went by, and I progressed to taking better care of my mental health through meditation and daily walks. I was able to reflect on my life a lot during this time. It was around this point that I realized the only person holding me back from happiness was myself rather than what was happening around me. After getting more in tune with myself, I began to take more initiative with my job and explore other avenues that might bring me fulfillment. Before I knew it, I began to find more joy with work and also discover new hobbies and career paths such as photography, video, and graphic design.

I think this sort of epiphany is something many people find extremely challenging to reach. It’s easy to find distractions via social media, video games, Netflix, or other means to numb the mind—to intentionally put your life on pause and hope that things change.

Unfortunately, life waits for no one. Certainly, it can take some time for people to achieve a healthier way of thinking, especially with the external circumstances at play in the world. Nevertheless, sticking to a healthy routine and having a willingness to change are the most important things you can do for yourself. Combine that with proper self-care, and you’ll be a force to be reckoned with, regardless of what’s happening around you.

Moving Forward with an Open Mind

Music is still near and dear to me, and I hope for a swift return to the stage. The past few months have allowed me to get in touch with myself again by realizing that happiness isn’t dictated by one specific path in life. I accomplished finding my way through the adversity because I had an open mind, and I think it’s important for everyone—now more than ever—to have that mindset if they are to adapt to the ever-changing times around us.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a pandemic or something else that brings unexpected rapid change into your life. What does matter is how you react to it. You can choose to accept how things are and take the positive actions necessary to move on, or you can wallow in the past, suffer, and wait for the change. I can guarantee you, though, that change will only come to those who put in the effort.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how you will approach your life. I recommend having an open mind. Not just for 2021, but for the rest of your days!

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