Updated: Apr 3
Name: Jahshona Goddard
Age: 29 years old
Occupation: Artist, Singer & Songwriter
Location: Toronto, Ontario
My father was a musician, he was the first person I ever sang in front of. In many ways he was a huge inspiration for opening up the artistic side of my mind. My parents were separated for years, when he was here in Toronto I would see him on weekends up until my early teens-ish. I was 21 when I got the news that he had cancer and even though I tried to get out there as soon as I could he passed away before we could figure it out - I didn’t make it out to him. And, instead of dealing with the loss of him, which is something I still haven’t really done, I just moved on and kept going with the motions of life.
At the time I was living with my mother, and I love my mother, but the dynamic in our household changed in many ways around that time. My home became a place where I wasn’t able to process much of my fathers passing or anything at all really. It involved a religious change, and with that came a shift in the household. We were a house of girls, for a lot of the time, and I only ever knew her as this beautiful inquisitive human that was very open minded and free, but all that changed. It became a very controlling and manipulative environment and the dynamics of our relationship changed dramatically. At the time, I felt like I had no room to feel what I was going through. So, I started to lose myself in work to avoid going home. There were just so many changes happening and I wasn’t in the right mental space to be able to digest it. I felt like I couldn’t even think straight. All I knew was that I needed to breath. So, when I was given the opportunity to move in with a friend from college I took it.
When I moved I had a core group of friends who, I felt, weren’t very understanding about it. In high school I had also left to go to an arts high school, and I feel like I was always leaving with out an explanation. I knew it would affect my social group but I had to do it for myself. I wasn’t doing it to hurt anyone I was doing it to progress in the performing arts. When I had decided to move out my mother and I hadn’t been talking for over a month. The people closest to me ended up being the furthest from me, and it seemed like no one even wondered about what might be going on in my life. At that point I decided to change my number. I needed a fresh start. I needed to hear myself think. It became a really lonely and awkward time for me because it was also in that moment that I realized if I make decisions for myself, but are made to feel bad or like I’m insulting other people even though they’ve never cared to ask me why, that there’s a serious problem.
After I moved out I was still in school and soon after was working 50+ hours a week as a store manager, while also trying to focus on my music which truthfully wasn’t going anywhere, I had no time. And, I’m just going to come out and say it, but in my experience when working with people who don’t exactly share your interests at heart means you don’t get any work done. As a female artist, you are usually the only one in the room, and in my case I wasn't being heard much for my vision or plans. I had so many responsibilities at the time, and was working really hard to try and make something happen with my music, but nothing was ever getting done the way I wanted it to . I felt like I was loosing all control over what I was doing. I became really discouraged to the point where I just had to walk away from music all together and left it alone for a long time.
After that I worked a lot, because it was something I knew I was good at, and ultimately I ended up getting lost in the motions of it all - again. Work became my safety net. I became so connected to all these amazing people, so much so that it became really hard to walk away. But, at the end of 2016 I knew I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was stressing myself out to the point where I was making myself sick, I was having issues at work and was just completely emptied out. I’m also someone that also has a really hard exterior and it’s not always easy for me to ask for help. I just feel like if you truly cared than you would ask. And, no one did. So when all of this was going on I had no idea how to cope. When I was 21 I was working long hours and going out drinking after work became a very natural and normal thing to do. I usually worked late, so I always felt like I was having to play catch up with my peers at a party, which I don’t think is unreasonable to go through when you’re 21, but when everything was falling apart I knew I was using it as an instantaneous way to have fun and forget about everything else that was happening. Alcohol wasn’t always an issue when I was with other people it was also became an issue when I was by myself, because sometimes that’s when I’d drink the most. Now, I set a limit before I go out or I’ll literally have nothing at all but, that’s me now it hasn't always been that way.
Looking back, I also had a falling out with a really close friend, and important person in my life which was a significant part of 2016 when things were starting to unravel. It happened the day after my birthday. We tried to work things out, but I think we were at different parts of our lives and our careers. We stopped communicating with each other and supporting each other in the ways we needed to. It felt like we couldn’t go to each other or come together anymore. That person still has keys to my previous, because we never reconnected. I still don’t really understand why it happened, which drove me crazy but I’ve had to learn how to forgive it. During that time I had realized that I had no one but myself. It was a hard, but a good lesson for me to learn which has helped me get to where I am now.
A big moment for me also was when I took a solo trip to Italy in November 16'. It was apart of my bucket list for 2016, and right before I had left I stressed myself out trying to make sure everything was perfect at work - typical. I was so exhausted that when I got there I saw the sights, and then just slept. I had no idea how to decompress to the point where when I got back I couldn’t even leave my apartment, which ultimately sparked my break down. When I tried to go back to work I couldn’t bring myself to physically walk into the store so I turned around and went home. I ended up taking myself to the doctor and it’s funny because he looked at me and told me that I needed a vacation, but I had literally just gotten back from one. Then, he asked me if I was happy at work, what I was doing for self-care, about what supports I had, and I didn’t have any answers I was just burnt out. I ended up getting a note to take three weeks off of work, which in itself was stressful. I really tried to be transparent about what was happening but I was still constantly bombarded with work issues that made me feel like I was wrong in taken time to myself. When I finally did go back I had realized that I was over working myself because no one else was holding themselves accountable for as much work as I refused to let go undone. So I ended up changing my approach. I started delegating things and being really factual in what I was doing, which people did not like at first, but of course resulted in me getting promoted the following year in 2018. The promotion ended up being the best thing for me because I was given my own store, and this time around I just knew in that moment that I needed to set up a game plan to exit. I realized I didn’t want to go through the cycle again, that I didn’t want my bosses job and started to slowly step back in order to leave my full time job. I felt it was necessary for me to plan it out 6 months ahead.
On New Years Eve of 2017 it hit me that I didn’t know who I was. So, I came home from a party propped up my iPad and made a YouTube video where I was completely transparent that I had no idea what I was doing. That all I wanted to do was hear myself think. I made over a 100 videos that year of basically asking myself questions to confront myself and to figure out who I was. At the time I wasn’t even calling myself by my full name. I always had an issue with the way people would say my name, even at the age of 6 I let people cut it down to “Shona”. I finally realized that I was always accommodating other people to make it easier for them, which was something I had to unwrap because I found that even the people I would bend over backwards for couldn’t even care to try to call me by my full name. I hated it. Eventually, it came to me that I always said yes to everyone else and no to myself which was why I was feeling so empty inside. And also, I had realized once again that a lot of the people who I loved and I thought were there for me weren’t really there for me at all.
After I had decided to release the videos in 2017 it became a really really exciting year for me. I was really inspired by WIPP, Women Inspiring Passion and Purpose, here in Toronto. It was a really beautiful time where I was getting to know myself again. I started reading a lot of self-help books and watching a lot of recommended videos through my YouTube channel. I also started a blog, and was in some really exciting modelling situations for women owned brands in Toronto. And, for the first time in a long time I actually cried. Eventually it clicked that I needed to take a step back and figure out what my priorities were and knowing my limits when it came to what was important to me, whether that meant going home and being able to sit down and write a song or going to a friends show. For once, I just felt like I could finally breath. Like, I wasn’t holding my breath. And, I’m one of the most anxious people I know. It takes me a really long time for me to even leave the house. I still don’t know how I worked in retail for 13 years. It is such a high pace, high stress environment, I was over exerting myself constantly and became so oblivious to what I could and couldn’t control in my life to stop.
In May of 2018, I had found love for music again. I was at a Kygo Concert with my friends, and everything just clicked. From there, I made a promise to myself to go to every concert I wanted to go to and made that a priority. I started writing again and identifying with being a singer, which felt so good. I also started to take care of myself in the ways I needed to. From there, every morning I decided to wake up and say kind words to myself and tell myself I am grateful. I also say the date out loud to ground myself and set my intentions. But, most of all meditation has really helped to calm myself and my anxiety. I started with 7 seconds, which has now progressed to being able to do up to an hour. It’s a practice. And, this past March, I made the ultimate decision to quit my job. I loved the amazing humans that I got to share space with, but I decided to leave to focus on myself and my dreams, wholeheartedly. After my previous experiences working in music, I’ve decided that this time around it’s my personal mission and want to work with other female artists and creatives, as I see there is a need for a girls club around here! Everything I do from the images, to the writing and recording is done by myself or with trusted friends who get my vision. Now, my music is way I want it to be, and I can’t wait to keep singing, creating and getting better at doing just that, making things the way I want.