Sophie Simmons Embraces Her Mistakes“I wasted so much time worrying about things that I thought were the end of the world, and yet, that world did not end.”
Any avid early aughts reality TV fan is probably familiar with Gene Simmons Family Jewels and the KISS rocker’s daughter, Sophie Simmons, who has been holding her own in the singing and songwriting business for nearly a decade now.
She’s also made a name for herself as a mental health advocate, celebrating the way music can help listeners feel less alone. “I think the most beautiful thing about music, and probably why I like writing it so much, is when you hear a song from someone you've never met and they're describing exactly what you're going through,” she tells Wondermind. “I think that's so powerful to know that a situation you think is so specific to you [or think] no one else could possibly feel the same way, that someone out there really does. The fact that the song somehow found you, I find that so magical.”
Here, the musician sits down for a mental health check-in and talks diet culture, social media comparison, and how songwriting taught her how to protect her peace when supporting others.
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WM: How have you been approaching your mental health lately?
Sophie Simmons: One of my big New Year's resolutions last year was to not to look at what other people are doing, to not compare it to what I'm doing, especially career-wise. At the end of last year, I really reflected: I really am so lucky to have everything that I've ever wanted. I have such a beautiful partner who's really supportive, and it's such a healthy relationship. I have a gorgeous family. My parents are still together. It's very idyllic. And yet, I felt like my life wasn't together somehow.
I realized it was because you see things online, and you compare it to what you have. It's a natural thing we all do. But I made a really conscious effort this year to just look at what I have going on in my career and in my life and appreciate that. I feel like the success I've had in my career this year just came as a side effect of not worrying about what other people were doing, funnily enough.
WM: Do you have any 2024 resolutions?
SS: I am starting to make more specific goals for myself. I've noticed that my past New Year's resolutions have been these very broad goals. … Like, “I'm not going to worry about anyone else.” It's very broad. So this year, I've decided to pick three or four really intentional, specific goals. That way when I reach them, it's a more tangible feeling. Rather than having to look back and reflect, I can literally cross something off a list and feel like I've achieved a goal that I've set for myself. It'll be an interesting experiment [to see] if that's more helpful for me or less helpful for me, but I think it's worth a try.
WM: You’re recently released an EP called Different Songs, Same Sky. What role does music play in your mental health routine?
SS: It's huge. There's rarely a moment of silence in my day. It's not that I'm uncomfortable in silence; it's nice. I love meditating, going to a spa, having a silent moment, but I really find joy in music, so I like to have it around all the time. From the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, there is some sort of ambient music [playing from] my phone, in the car, off a laptop, whatever. … It's really comforting to have the consistency of a beat or a melody while I'm maybe working on other things or writing in a journal or whatever. I just love to have that comfort, and it helps me not overthink when I'm by myself.
WM: You’re a body positivity advocate who has called out diet culture and opened up about dieting since you were a preteen. When did you start to feel OK with your body and unlearn that diet culture messaging?
SS: I think the feelings about my body are always going to be up and down, but now I know it's less a reflection of my body and more of a reflection of the intake of what I'm looking at and experiencing through the day. It really has nothing to do with my vessel. But when you're young, you don't know, so you just put the blame on your body.
And then learning that we really misuse the word diet has been really interesting to me. We use it as a word that means what type of restrictive eating you are doing. Whereas the word diet just means what kind of food a specific animal eats. It has nothing to do with restriction. … Now I'm not afraid to use the word diet in the way that it's supposed to be used. Now I say my diet consists of as many whole foods as I can get, as little processed foods as I can get, but also not being afraid of enjoying myself. It is life; it should be a little fun.
WM: What helps when you have tough mental health days?
SS: When I feel active, I feel good. If I'm being very sedentary and sluggish, I don't feel good. I heard a really interesting thing—I think it was a professional snowboarder, but she said, “Rest looks different [for different people], and it doesn't always mean doing nothing. Doing a different activity can be rest from another activity.”
So when I'm not, let's say, songwriting, but I'm working on poetry, that's rest for me from songwriting, if that makes sense. It's not like because you are doing something, you're not resting. I think that's a misconception. I think your brain switching gears is just as important, [and] it doesn't necessarily have to switch to being nothing or silence. … Using other activities that stimulate different parts of my brain is the rest that I need.
WM: You grew up in the spotlight and have your own platform now. What's something you'd like more people to know about you?
SS: I'm a pretty open book, but I hope people know that when you see people on social media that are incredibly blessed or privileged or lucky, as I consider myself to be, that it doesn't mean that everything is magically OK or happy. Don't think that having more followers or more money or a bigger house or something like that is going to make your mental health better because that's not where good mental health comes from. These are just momentary distractions. You'd feel great if you bought a new car for two seconds, and then we would spiral into worrying about other things again.
I'm mostly trying to surround myself with things that do have a positive impact on my mental health. I try not to overconsume things. I try to be conscious about the environment. I'm just trying to be the best human I can be while I'm here, learning as [I] go.
But social media is not a good representation of people. You should look at it as an online resume. People are trying to put the best versions of themselves out there to either get fans or work or attention. That's not the full 360 of a person.
WM: If you could go back and give your younger self some advice, what would you say?
SS: So many things. I wouldn't redo anything because I think doing things that we regret and [making] mistakes make us who we are at the end of our lives. So I don't think I would redo anything, but I would just say when the mistakes happen, don't worry so much because it's such a perspective game. You think you failed at work or something and that it's the end of the world forever, but then five years later, you don't work there anymore and you don't care and you have your dream job now. So it's like, why was I worried so much about that?
I wasted so much time worrying about things that I thought were the end of the world, and yet, that world did not end. So I wouldn't say, “Don't do this mistake.” I would just say, do the mistake. It's going to happen, but don't waste so much time thinking about it. Just be like, Well, it's happened. It's out of my control now. What can I do to remedy the situation if I was in the wrong or what can I do to just let it go and move on if I was wronged? Because it helps nobody to ruminate on that feeling.
WM: What else would you like to share?
SS: As a songwriter, we usually listen to artists tell us their problems because people love to write a sad song. When they're happy, they don't feel like they need to write songs, and they're off living their life. But when they're in times of turmoil or heartbreak, they come to us. [It’s] not a trauma dump, but they do tell us everything, and then they feel better and they leave the studio and they have a song that they wanted to write.
We go home carrying everything they've told us. … We can't tell other people because the trust of a songwriter and artist is that you don't talk about that with other people. Now you just know how hurt somebody was and there's nothing you can do about it.
What I would say to people about mental health that I've learned from that process is: When you are being there for your friends or hearing other people's problems or trauma, you don't have to try to solve [the problem] for them. You can just listen and be a sounding board. You don't have to take it home with you, and you don't have to text them later being like, “So I thought of what you could do to fix this.” They don't need you to fix it, and they don't need you to carry it. They just need you to hear them. I think it's going to be easier on you and also on them if you're able to hear them, be there for them, and then let it go because it's not yours to carry.
And at the same time that I'm saying, “Take this advice,” I'm telling myself [this] all the time. I do it all the time, so I'm not being like, “I've really figured it out, you guys, and now I know how to do mental health.” I don't. I'm just [saying] what I would hope someone would tell me and hoping I actually do it this time.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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