2020 wasn’t easy for Michael Ray. The Florida native came off the road because of COVID-19, and went through a highly-publicized divorce with Carly Pearce, after less than a year of marriage. Worse, their sudden split created a social media frenzy of blame and speculation, making Ray’s healing exponentially harder.
“We live in a world where people preach kindness, and then people will read one line of a book and try to do a book report on the whole thing,” Ray reflects to Everything Nash. “And I think that you don’t know what people go through. You don’t know, especially with a year like we’ve had. I got sucked in. I worried about somebody sitting in their parents’ basement trying to talk sh–. But when you see those things, then it does hurt. After a while, it gets hard not to get to you, and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you, it did get to me, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it put me through a time where I didn’t leave the house for a while, and it put me in a dark place.
“I had to work through it, but I came out on the other side,” he adds. “People are going to talk, and I just wish people would be more cautious with what they say, and do their homework on what they’re talking about. And I think that we just need to practice what we preach. We’re living in a world that’s so divided, and that doesn’t do anything but keep us more divided.”
Ray had been cautiously optimistic that 2021 would be better than last year, but between the ongoing pandemic and the political unrest, the 32-year-old still feels uncertain, at least about his immediate future.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t fearful, and worried,” Ray says. “I think this year, with personal stuff, with what’s going on in the world, a lot of us are dealing with depression and anxiety and fear of — you don’t know what’s to come. We don’t know, beyond the fear of the unknown. We don’t know what’s around the corner. We’re hoping to get back soon, but what if it doesn’t? The fear of ‘what if?’ comes in. I think that’s why I’m trying to be more present, and trying to just be mentally better focused, is because last year was just such a foggy … anxiety, depression, everything. I felt even worse at the beginning of this year, and I was like, ‘I’m not going there.'”
The lessons of 2020, hard as they were, haven’t been lost on Ray, who is more determined than ever to turn even the most challenging parts of his life into something positive.
“I really just want to practice being more present,” Ray maintains. “Get better at growing every day and be a better than I was the day before. Focus on writing a lot, and just be more present. I feel like with what we do, it’s very easy to be on the go when your mind’s always going. I just want to be focused on that, and try to balance that out, and just be a better me, for me and for my team, and my family,”
Ray’s current single, “Whiskey and Rain,” is in the Top 40. The song is from an upcoming album, expected to be released later this year.