Aisha Burns self care

I spent my 20s as a touring musician. Here’s the most important thing I learned about self-care.

The most frustrating statement uttered about my life in the music world usually happens right when I’ve just gotten back into town:

“Oh my gosh, you just got back from tour in Europe? Wow, I wish I could go on vacation.”

In my imagination, my eyebrows furrow beyond recognition.

In reality, I smile and offer a semi-convincing laugh while finding some kind way to say, “I just spent six sleep-deprived weeks — the only woman in a van full of boys — with only three days off, without one night to myself, sometimes eating weird food, sleeping in places beyond my control, regularly going number two in gas station bathrooms, drinking a devilish amount of coffee, never fully understanding where I was on a map, and all while trying to give people a memorable and emotional musical experience every night. …Did you just say vay-ca-tion?”

I’ve spent my 20s traveling the US and Europe as a violinist in a number of bands and, in short, it’s a paradoxical head game. Never mind the trouble of not getting lost, showing up on time, or the continuous threat of sub-par equipment or disgruntled venue staff.

For me, the true battle to be won is within myself.