When I graduated high school I went to college having no clue why I was actually attending, other than because I was "supposed to". So for two years I took (and aced) every undergraduate class that was thrown at me. Then came time to actually choose what was to be my "career" and I was absolutely stumped. The only thing I knew I was passionate about was music. But any music major I looked at was far off from what I actually wanted to do, which was CREATE music, not study it. So I did what any full ride scholarship student does, I quit. Wait. What?
Yup, I found myself a 20 year old college dropout who quit a (paid for) college education to focus on playing in a band and touring the country. I know what you're thinking, every parent's dream right? Trust me, there were some "come to Jesus" talks that were had with my parents, but in those talks they both realized where my heart and passion lied. I'm blessed in that they trusted me enough to let me choose my own path. Though thinking on it now, they had to wonder "where the hell is this going?"
So I got a job at the airport and played music with my friends every chance I could. And I loved it for a long time. We did the touring, the professional studios, and all the work that goes into "making it" as a band. But as many bands are fated, it wasn't meant to be for The Flight Station or The Getaway. At least not as original bands. At some point the work became too much and creating music stopped being fun for us. And that's ok. But it left me in a strange place. My passion for creating music did not die with either band's failure to "make it". In fact, it only got stronger. So as I starting writing more of my own material I looked into more education and found some online schooling for music production.. Finally, I felt like I found an education worthy of my time and effort. But boy oh boy, this one wasn't free.
40k later I graduated with my Bachelor's in Music Production. And three months after I graduated I got my first record deal. All very proud moments for me. But yet still I found myself unfulfilled. But how can that be? Trust me I asked that a lot. The truth is, I was still working a job I hated for 40 hours a week. And that 40 hours came at an expense of time and energy I would much rather have been putting into my music. But we all know this narrative, WE GOT BILLS TO PAY!
After getting married and my son being born in 2015, I found myself again in an odd place. I now had proof I had the talent and drive to "make it" in the music industry on my own if I put in the work. The crux of that was, I wasn't on my own anymore. I now have two people that rely on me every single day to provide and be there for their needs. And there's no easy way to say this, but I honestly felt trapped.
Not trapped by my wife or my son, but trapped by my situation. I found myself stuck in the "golden cuffs" if you will. We were making enough to pay the bills, but we weren't making enough for me to quit my job and do music full time. New baby, new wife, new house. It just wasn't an option. So I worked on music between the hours of 9pm - 3am on weekdays when I could. Having a new baby, you all know that wasn't often for a while. And I soldiered on doing this as long as I could, but there steadily grew an unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach. Around this time I had my first ever panic attack.
Have you ever felt like there's an elephant sitting directly on your chest and crushing the air from you lungs? That's what I felt like. It was very much the feeling of sinking in quicksand or being in a closed tank of water and watching the water slowly rise. I was heading for a breakdown. And shortly thereafter, it happened.
I was alone with my son one day watching him as he slept soundly and my mind began to wander. That wandering grew darker and darker and I soon found myself weeping like a four year old who lost his mom at the fair. I had to leave the room to not wake up my son. Not something I"m too proud to admit, but to know where I was at, I had finally broke in two. I could not get past the very simple thought, "this is my life." I could see the whole thing in front me like it was written on the wall. And to be clear, I wasn't unhappy in my marriage or with my son, family, or any of that. I was unhappy with me. How I was living my life. How unfulfilled I was working at a job I hated so I could occasionally do something I love. There had to be a better way. Music was never meant to be a hobby for me, and that day it became glaringly clear that was all music would ever be if I continued on that path. But it felt like there was no way off it. Like I was a pilot strapped in coach.
I need to make an important point here. The story I saw written on the wall that day was not a sad story. It was a life filled with a lot of joy and happiness surrounded by friends and family where I retired at 60 and enjoyed my "golden years' traveling with the wife and family. But for ME, it was a story that I didn't write. A story that was in black ink when I wanted to write it in blue. And I became stuck in a mind loop of the thought, "How can I tell my son to follow his dreams if I never had the guts to truly follow mine?"
For a long time I felt selfish, ashamed, and probably a little embarrassed at these thoughts. After all, I did not by any means have a "bad life". But if you've ever seen the movie Inception, it was very much like the top spinning in a safe buried deep in my mind. But I wasn't Ma', and one day I finally changed the rhetoric, stood up (figuratively speaking), and said F#$% THIS. I'm here for ONE LIFE. And I'm gonna write MY STORY.
About this time I found some much needed wisdom in a very peculiar place. Laugh if you must, but I came across a video (link below) of Steve Harvey speaking "off camera" to an audience of people from Family Feud. Yup, that's right. The funny man who couldn't announce the winner of a beauty pageant was giving me life advice. Its funny on paper, but the words he spoke were both sincere and also what I find to be the absolute truth.
"You can't just exist in life. You have to TRY to really live. Eventually you are going to have to JUMP."
These words soon became imprinted in my brain like a Vegas billboard on a desert highway. I saw it again and again each day. And then I became obsessed with the idea of "jumping". And once I decided it was what had to be done, there was no looking back. But I'll save that 18 month planning of "my jump" for another post, as I've made this one plenty long as it is.
It's not a new idea. I'm well aware of that. No guts, no glory. You gotta risk it to get the biscuit and all that jazz. But in a time of desperation, it was the words I needed to hear.
Spending 40+ hours a week doing something you don't like is utterly insane. I know that now, but I didn't before for some reason. Or perhaps I just didn't feel like I had the power to change that. Whatever it was, it made me realize how little time we actually have in this one life we're given. And I'll be damned if I was going to spend one more day doing something I wasn't passionate about. It was starting to eat at my soul.
Now I'm what I'd call in the middle of jumping. So I can't tell you how this ends just yet. But what I can tell you is that I am in the middle of answering the question we've all asked, but few answer. And that question is "What if?" So no matter if I crash or fly, I can live with the result. I will never in this one life of mine utter the words "what if" because I'm taking my shot. And as tough as it is, I'm damn proud of that because its perhaps the one question I had to answer to be fulfilled. And now I"m answering it.
And some of you will wonder "yeah but at what cost?" What you don't see wrong about that question, is that its a question you're asking out of fear. And if you're living your life by Fear's opinion first, then you're not really living at all.
This experience so far has taught me some of the greatest lessons of my life. I've never known my true self worth until I put myself out there on a line with no safety net. It makes me know that no matter how this ends, my little family and I will either fly or get back up even stronger together. I will never again stay at a job I hate to "pay the bills". It isn't worth the self collateral it takes from you. And its why I didn't start working at some crap job I'd hate when I got here to LA. Not that I'm "above that" now, but I know the results of it already.
Is this selfish? Yes it is. Point blank. But I'm here blessed with two things. A wife and a kid whom forever believe in me. And an unwavering faith in my talent, passion, and work ethic. And why listen to all those worried about how selfish this is? They don't understand what I'm doing and never will. And you have to be ok with that to do this. When you let go of that rope you'll know pretty quickly who will be there to pick you up or push you down.
So it really boils down to a simple question, do YOU believe in yourself? And if that answer is yes, you have no reason not to JUMP. Swallow the fear. Ignore the haters. Get rid of the people who don't believe in you. I mean that whole heartedly. That negativity will hinder you in many ways and make you rationalize that your fear is greater than your ability. And I'm here to tell you that you have no clue how great your ability is until you've made fear your friend.
So if you haven't yet, JUMP. And do it sooner than later. I hope this inspires you in the way it inspired me.
Thanks for reading.