The Importance of Following Your Passion

I knew I wanted to be a journalist when I realized there were more career options than broadcasting on CNN or NBC. I knew I wanted to be a journalist when I realized I could take the things I love and turn them into a job. I knew I wanted to be a journalist when I discovered I actually had the skills I needed to succeed at it. What I didn’t know is how difficult it would be to show others that the amount of money I will make will not compare to the joy I will have when I wake up for work every morning.

I knew I loved music the night I experienced my first concert. I knew I loved music the day I realized its saved lives. I knew I loved music the day I met some of the bands I respect the most and learned their stories. I knew I loved music when I discovered I can combine it with my love for journalism. What I didn’t know is how difficult it would be to show others that being a music journalist is more than just “a fangirl’s job.”

Yes, in high school I was the “weird girl who loved bands too much.” That was me, your designated “fangirl” that tweeted too much about music, bands and albums to the point where people would tell me in real life that I was “just so annoying” on Twitter. (I tried to tell them there was an unfollow button, btw). I was the girl that attended shows every month- sometimes more often than that - and the one that flooded Instagram with photos of me and my favorite bands posing in front of a tour bus. (I still do this). Though I had a lot of support from my closest friends and my family, I got just as much slack for loving music and deciding I wanted to report on it for a career. “That’s a fangirl’s job,” “you’re going to write about boy bands for a job?” “You’re not going to make any money,” or “good luck, there’s a long line for job’s like that.”

                                                              The time I met Pete Wentz at their Chicago show. I still travel for concerts now. 

I could’ve given up. I could have used all of the mean words, the disbelief in my goals and the jokes about my love for music and my desire to make it a career as an excuse to throw it all away. I could’ve taken the doubt to heart, surrendered and pursued a safer degree (if there even is one, if I’m being honest). Instead, I became hungrier.

I increased the amount of live shows I attended and started a music blog after graduating high school, getting settled into my degree and gaining the confidence to fully embrace the passions I had for music and writing. The day I got the confidence to share my work and say, “yes, I’m the ‘weird girl that loves bands’ and I’m going to own it,” it felt like a big middle finger to everyone that doubted me. I only grew more comfortable with my love for music and writing about it with the time that passed.

I got comfortable with the music scene Laramie had to offer around the same time. I interviewed bands for my job, I went to all the local gigs I could get into and I began to befriend local artists. I was still attending live shows in Denver on top of this, so a gig or two every weekend began to be the norm. (It still is, but I’ll get there). I didn’t slow down. I continued to chase the music journalist dream and I’m still chasing it, I’m just a little closer than I was before.

With the amount of live shows I continued to attend, locally and regionally, with bands of various sizes, the more opportunities I began to uncover. I realized how much I loved reporting on musicians, telling their stories and hearing why they create. I loved going to concerts and re-telling my experiences. I knew I was following the right dream, even if I occasionally heard the criticism of my peers in the back of my mind. I kept going. Eventually, one of my concert reviews was shared nationally and I soon acquired a blogging job that came with a nationally published title. I was barely 20 years old.

Though it was and still is a “pinch me” kind of moment, I kept writing as if I had no recognition. I wrote more than I slept and nothing’s changed even now as I work on my last few semesters of college. I went to even more shows (as if it’s even possible, but I attend about three almost every week). I wrote even more and even dipped my toes in the public relations side of the music industry. I landed an interview with one of my favorite musicians just by asking him one night before he played a set with a band I’ve seen six times. (I'll put the tweet below.) 

I took my first set of professional band photos not long after that. Now, I’m getting more and more people coming up to me asking me to write an article or take some photos or help them with writing, I didn’t think I’d actually become someone people wanted to know more about or someone they’d want help from. “You have such a cool life,” “How do you do all of this,” “This is amazing!” “I love your articles, they’re so interesting!” The words of support have been more common these days and I’m not saying this to brag, I’m saying this to let you know that your passions are worth pursuing, even if you receive the worst responses at first.

I know what I want, I’ve always known, and now I definitely know that I’m on the right track. Every time I post a new piece or hear a touch of positivity from a peer, or even a stranger, I’m reminded that I am where I’m supposed to be. I never thought I’d see the day when people finally understood, respected or supported my passions. Though you don’t need any of these things to pursue a dream and succeed, it’s nice to see a change of heart to remind you that you’ve been in the right spot this entire time.

If I can offer up a little bit of motivation as someone who is familiar with doubt and receiving unsolicited recommendations 24/7, I want to tell you to keep going. Do what you want. Do what makes you happy. Own your passions and pursue them hungrily. It may not mean something for everyone, but if it means something to you and gets you out of bed in the morning, then keep going. I have a long to-do list I still want to complete, but I’ve checked off a few boxes already because I didn’t want to give into the doubt. Life is just too short to spend your life feeling unhappy.