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Overcoming Anxiety And Insecurity: Fiona McDonald

10 Aug 2023

The voice of Strawpeople and Headless Chickens gives a heartfelt insight into her early career mental struggles, as she passes on the advice she wishes she could have given her younger self.

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Fiona McDonald has carved out a career that has made her voice one of the most identifiable in the Aotearoa music scene.

Her roles fronting the lyrics for much-loved bands Strawpeople and Headless Chickens have produced a string of unforgettable hits and built McDonald a reputation as one of the country's finest vocalists.

With Strawpeople reuniting to release their new album Knucklebones, McDonald took a trip down memory lane to give some words of wisdom to her 22-year-old self - ones that will ring true for many.

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You are living in Australia and not having a very good time. 

You’ve run away from massive heartache and you’re drinking too much. You will keep drinking too much for another two years before you give up forever. This will be the best thing you ever do until you have children 26 years later. 

You don’t know what you’re doing with your life, you don’t know where you’re going and you feel you really should know by now. 

What you don’t know is that in the next few years, you’ll become a part of two musical groups in New Zealand that will satisfy your heart and soul completely. 

Together again: Strawpeople's Paul Casserly (left) and Fiona McDonald (right). Photo: Supplied.

What you don’t know is that when you are 58, you’ll look back on your decision to follow your dream of music and realise that for you, you truly did follow your heart and that this will give you a deep sense of contentment and no regrets. 

What I would say to you darling young woman, is that your deep sense of anxiety and insecurity is excruciating to live with and I wish that you had known more about looking after your own mental health better at this age. 

But it’s okay because you’ll spend the next 36 years learning so much more about it and you’ll realise it’s a lifelong journey. 

You love intensely and your jokes are bad. Neither of these things will change as you get older. 

Knucklebones is available to stream now, plus a limited vinyl run from all good record stores. Visit strawpeople.co.nz for more information.