I often try to stop and reflect on my life – where I am, what I’m doing, etc. I think part of the reason I do this is because I’m frequently ill, so it’s a way to remind myself of all the progress I’ve made and see the work I’ve done. I also do this, though, because I am kind of terrified of becoming jaded to the delightful and weird stuff that happen to me. I frequently say “my life is ridiculous”, and… it’s not just a line. I say it because things I never expect would happen, happen, and it’s absurd to me. I don’t want to lose that feeling of excitement and awe at what happens. At one of my internships with a major label, almost a decade ago, I was told by one of my supervisors that it was only a matter of time until I’d become jaded like them. While it does happen from time to time, I refuse to let it be my normal. So, we reflect.
To be clear: I’m writing this as a way for me to process these things for myself. It’s not an attempt to brag or make anyone feel bad. I don’t want to inspire bad feelings. I’m still, genuinely, surprised at all this nonsense from time to time, and I write it down as a way to try and capture that wonder. I guess enthusiasm pays off – take that, industry insiders who said me, and people like me, had to calm down to be taken seriously.
What I’ve been skating around is what my job is. I work with artists I am a big fan of on a daily basis. I am friends with some of these people. Still, there is a voice in the back of my head quietly going “what the fuck is going on?!” fairly often.
You see, I was a fan first. All I did was love the music and the live experiences, and talk about them endlessly. I was involved in a lot of fan projects, and fan sites. I somehow rallied people to work together to achieve some cool things. I don’t know why people paid attention to, or listened to me. The music and the love of it felt all consuming at times (to be fair, it still does). I traveled for gigs. I talked about the gigs and the music constantly, to anyone who would listen. I was enthusiastic and passionate, and I did all of this without any agenda. I just wanted to support what I liked, and what I thought more people should be paying attention to. I used skills I learned at internships to pull all the strings and make things work with our little fan projects, but otherwise working for these people was a far off joke of a dream. Somehow along the way I also became friends with some of these people, which was weird too. I felt like I shouldn’t be the places I was invited to, and would often leave really early due to feeling so out of place. Everyone was dead lovely to me, and no one made me feel that way except myself. Good ole imposter syndrome strikes again!
I traveled to London for a show. I met the people who worked at the label. I joked, but was also semi-serious, when I said I wanted to work with them, and that one day they’d give me a job. I never followed up with any of them. I didn’t think of it. I went back home after that show and carried on going to gigs, and organizing fan projects, and shouting about what I liked with people who liked it too. Almost a year later, they approached me and asked if I wanted to get involved in an official capacity. I almost cried on the train home from that meeting at a gig. I know I worked hard and proved myself, in a manner of speaking, but I still felt like I needed to pull someone aside and go “you know I’m just a fan, right?”.
In the five years since that trip to London, I went from being a fan sat alone in an arena watching a show, to being a crew member running around working at an arena during a show. Sing alongs happened at both, and while one was considerably bigger than the other, the latter is the one that makes my heart swell because I got to do what I always wanted to do – help. I’m still amazed I get to do that. The work is not all rainbows and sunshine, it’s a looooooot of hard work, weird hours, and oddly specific and frustrating problems. But I get to do so many cool things with other people who love the music as much as me, and that makes it all worth it.
Like Penny Lane and William Miller would say: “It’s All Happening.” I’m thankful for my work ethic, and for the people who believed in me. It’s been bonkers, and I feel like the luckiest fan.
“If you work really hard, and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”
– Conan O’Brien