I was literally living inside of a moment that I had only imagined for years. Right then, I was 24 years old, sitting in the lobby of one of the biggest, most-recognized companies in the music industry, waiting for someone to escort me to my interview. I was surrounded by cold, marble, grey floors and fixtures, dwarfed by a sky-high ceiling, and staring at the lucky employee sitting behind the very expensive welcome desk. There were inspiring quotes etched on the walls and I thought, “I think if I never even get this job. This will be enough.” What it is to be young…
Moments like that are so strange. I am a firm believer in speaking and visualizing dreams into existence, but it’s a whole new animal when you get to see those dreams come to fruition – it’s weird isn’t it? There’s always a fleeting, objective recognition of yourself, as you are, and that situation, as it is, right in that minute. This recognition is startling and sometimes the reality you see does not measure up to the dreams you had in your head.. But someeeetimes reality actually exceeds your dreams. In this case, reality exceeded my wildest dreams.
I had made it. Years of working for shady music venues, teaching lessons, being the administrator to music schools, waitressing, and interning, applying to hundreds of jobs, had finally paid off. I was like that kid in Kazaam who’s wishes come true (Thanks to Shaquille O’Neal) and is sitting in a endless pile of pizza, cheeseburgers, and candy (I don’t know about you, but I use that scene as a compass for my entire life. It represents the ultimate awesomeness).
I did get the job. I essentially worked in a call center for $9/hour and I couldn’t have been happier (I also kept a part-time job at a veterinary clinic – stories for another day!). I met some incredible individuals, almost all of whom have gone on to hold amazingly impressive positions in other aspects of the industry. There were posters on the walls of our famous, musical clients. I was in my element. I would ultimately be promoted twice and work, full-time, in the legal department; one of the most prominent on Music Row. My parents could finally sleep easy. All those years of them worrying as I slugged through the mucky underbelly of the entertainment industry had finally paid off. Plus, they always wanted me to be a lawyer – so this was kind of close to THEIR dreams as well. Sidenote, never live your life for others’ dreams. I know self-help books say that all the time, but it’s the truest tidbit in existence. Live your life for you. Simple.
So anyway, during this time of my life, I also developed my charitable business, BANDADE. I founded BANDADE in part to help me deal with grief and the unknown (here’s an article I wrote for Thought Catalog about it at the time). It was a distraction from things I could not answer and emotions that I stuffed deep down into my gut (I think they’re still down there somewhere). My job on Music Row didn’t provide the opportunities I had imagined; Opportunities to support my favorite artists, get to know the musicians, and dive deep into the industry. I’m sure all of my fantasies aligned with anyone starting in music or entertainment, and they fizzled just as quickly. I believed, like a true millennial, that I would become so important everyone would know me. I would help support the pure music – music that had really become my own religion – and change the face of a dying industry. But no, it was a job, like any other job. And so my dreams grew outside of the walls of that office. Isn’t it so human nature to accomplish one ultimate goal and, instead of reveling in it, instantly create a NEW, EVEN BETTER, EVEN BIGGER GOAL?! That’s what I did. Over and over.
BANDADE became my haven. I would go on to get artists like Ingrid Michaelson, Florence Welch, Andrew Bird, Fun., Steve Moakler, Alabama Shakes, Jason Isbell, and more involved. I would ultimately meet people like Bruce Springsteen, Iron & Wine, the Goo Goo Dolls, Judah & The Lion, and Taking Back Sunday. All in the name of a charitable cause I had created or just on my own. I would book over 60 charitable concerts and ultimately go on a 32 date tour across the US with incredible corporate sponsors supporting us.
I did all of this while, for most of the time, scraping by financially (the music industry does not pay the best – I don’t think that’s a secret..), living in a cockroach invested single apartment, and shopping solely at Walmart (for essentials). You know that Yardley oatmeal bar soap that they sell at the Dollar Tree? I used a lot of that, and distinctly remember fantasizing about buying a nice, expensive bottle of Dove body wash. Dreams versus reality.
Years later, I would book some artists that I had only dreamt about booking years before when I was in Nashville. During that formative time, I honestly would attend concerts and think, “One day, I’ll book someone like that – all on my own.” Again, always creating bigger goals.
I have to be honest with you guys, that dream, booking larger artists, fell short of my dreams and expectations, because, unfortunately, as is with life, sometimes you need to wake up and re-evaluate.
I guess my purpose of this essay, today, is to explain that dreams are good, but be sure not to sacrifice your life or your well-being for them. Sometimes you need to look around and say, “You know what? This is not what I thought it would be, and that’s okay. Maybe this thing, as it is, isn’t a perfect fit for me.” After having accomplished most of what I want in life so far, I think that has been my greatest lesson. You can apply it to jobs, you can apply it to dreams, you can apply it relationships, heck, you can apply it to the tuna sandwich you aren’t crazy about that you packed for lunch.
I promise you, I will put my head down and grind with the best of them. But it is important to come up for a little air before you run out of breath. Ya know? Always calculate, always maneuver, always be honest (WITH YOURSELF), and always re-evaluate. That is the spirit of growth, I think.
(DISCLAIMER: This blog primarily chronicles my six month trip around the country putting on concerts. And really my life in general… You don’t need to, but, if you have the time, I recommend reading the blog posts prior to this one for the full context. Thanks for reading! ❤ Knight Pines)