Kaleidoscope Stella Bruggen
Stella Brüggen

Stella Brüggen

I’m connecting singing to my identity and I’m scared

When I decided to start this blog, I asked my (small but supportive) following on Instagram whether I should do it under my name, or use a catchy brand name. The response was pretty clearly in favour of my own name. 

It was not what I had wanted to hear. Writing under my own name made me uncomfortable, but I couldn’t really explain why. I’ve always wanted to do a thousand different things. The idea of focusing on one thing connected to my name makes me anxious.

‘And I was again becoming that most limited of specialists – the well-rounded man.’
– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

(I hated that book but the quote absolutely nailed me. Ouch.)

For the past two years, I’ve used this website as a sort of collection for everything I do: swimming, acting, singing, dancing, directing, and that’s not even all, because I left out all the non-artistic stuff such as copywriting, translating, subtitling and working as a virtual assistant. As long as I didn’t pick one thing, I’d always have a ton of things to fall back on when I fail, right? At the same time, each of my projects and ideas stemmed from genuine excitement and enthusiasm. Couldn’t I just be a mermaid who also sings, dances, subtitles, acts, directs and works as a virtual assistant!?

The attraction of an online persona

My mermaid-self is just a touch more soft-spoken, slightly more self-deprecating, and way more bubbly and than the ‘real, complete’ Stella. Though I love taking on a role or a character, there’s always an element of distance to it. I can take myself out of the equation and distance myself from the character I create. ‘Well, it doesn’t matter that I come across as a little bit vapid, because that’s not really me – that’s mermaid Stella.’

I’m done distracting myself, done finding ways to be entertained that allow me to shift my focus from what I actually want. I want to learn how to see something through, even if it’s not the most fun thing I can think of in that exact moment. And making something part of your identity makes it part of the way you think about yourself. It becomes part of the way you behave. Deciding against a late night out to protect my voice makes sense if I am a singer. Less so if I’m a pole-dancing copywriter who also does concerts every now and again. 

This is a scary step for me, because I’m committing. Putting this blog on a website that has my name in the URL – I’m connecting my identity to this. Though I will likely continue to do a bunch of different things, I no longer am a confusing kaleidoscope of activities to hide behind.

This also means that if I write something here, I have to still like myself afterwards. Which is actually quite a confronting thought. Hopefully it will motivate me to come up with stuff that’s useful to you as a singer, an artist, or maybe even just as a person.

Thanks for the read, and thanks, Instagram friends, for forcing me to get real about this. 


Thoughts? I’d love to hear them. Comment at the bottom of this page or DM me on insta (@stellabruggen). 

6 Responses

  1. Dag Stella, maak je niet te druk om je individuele identiteit en trek je vooral niets aan van groepsidentiteit. Ieder mens is een hele kolonie persoonlijkheden rond een in wezen onkenbare maar immer aanwezige kern. De ‘gewoon jezelf zijn` mantra is misschien bedoeld om mensen gerust te stellen en tevreden met zichzelf te laten zijn, maar in wezen ofwel een onmogelijke opgave, of iets dat zo onomkoombaar is dat het niet eens zin heeft om te proberen er aan te ontsnappen. Hoe kan iemand immers iets anders zijn dan zichzelf. We spelen allemaal onszelf, de paradox van het ‘ware zelf’ waar zen het over heeft is dat dat zich naar verluidt alleen even toont als het subject zichzelf volkomen buitenboord zet. Wellicht heeft Lévinas gelijk als hij zegt dat je alleen via de ander jezelf kunt worden. Maar dat is ook allemaal maar gepraat…Warme groet, Frank Tarenskeen.

    1. Hey Frank, thanks so much for your comment. Forgive me replying in English :)
      I agree – ‘just be yourself’ is well-meant, wonderfully unspecific advice. We are all a complex amalgamation of identities. I mostly notice it when I’m with two people who I usually only see individually. Breaking through the ‘private reality’ you have with both of those people can be quite a challenge. And, as someone else mentioned in response to this post on Instagram, we can have different identities in different situations – and sometimes one identity can learn something from the other. The idea that we only become who we are through others is fascinating, and also why I baulk at this idea of ‘You must love yourself before you can love someone else’. Don’t we learn how to love ourselves through being loved by others?
      Thanks again, ta!

  2. I am THRILLED that you have decided to do this, Stella! I knew that you had a lot to offer in terms of commentary on your actual vocal performances and training but I’m glad that you are also being true to who you are as Stella Brüggen. That alone will make this blog a favourite place of mine (and many others) for a long time.
    Believe me, it can be a big step when you choose to identify yourself with a certain interest or image (I have struggled with that as well) but it’s well worth it to take that leap. I’m so glad you’ve made that bold move and I can’t wait to see what you have to share with us in the future!

    1. Hey Adam! Thanks so much for your reply :) What image or images did you struggle to identify with? It definitely feels as a big step for me – though a completely logical one, as I’ve been focusing on this for quite a while now, so much so that my other endeavours have taken a logical back seat. Hope to see you around here, and thanks so much for your support, it means a lot.
      Love, Stella

  3. Hello again, my friend. To answer your question: I have trained as a journalist (got my honours degree in that field in 1995) and worked in local media for 20 years (!) of my life, but never liked to pigeonholed as “the reporter.” (Which made it exceptionally difficult during the 12 combined years that I worked for a newspaper called The Reporter.)
    When I was your age (not an exaggeration) I made the conscious leap to leave media and be a full-time musician and recording artist. I was able to pursue that course for seven years before financial constraints led me back to reporting; however, even as a musician I found it difficult to balance being the crazy, funny guy (ie. “Weather Song”) and a writer of more serious songs. I still walk that tightrope today but I couldn’t see it being any other way.
    Either way, I hope your embracing of a “singer’s identity” never stops you from doing all the other amazing things that make you Stella. Diverse personalities and abilities should be embraced, not discouraged. What a dull world it would be if the latter was true!
    Keep up the great work (ALL of it!), Stella. Lots of love and support from Atlantic Canada!

    1. Hey Adam!
      I knew you’d held both of these professions but I had no idea it was a “tightrope walk” for you. Thanks for sharing your awesome story – and I’ll definitely keep embracing diversity in any way! :)
      (P.S: love you weather song.)