This past weekend I was listening to music and doing my makeup when suddenly I had a mysterious flashback moment. All of a sudden I felt very clearly what it felt like to be sixteen, at the start of a carefree summer, eager for real life to begin in the coming years. I let it wash over me, being that girl again, and then just as quickly as it arrived the feeling was gone.
As I analyzed what may have called forth such a thing, I realized that 16 is half of 32 and also that it was the beginning of June when I was 16 that I had my first "music business" experience, the one that set me on the course to move to Nashville and start doing what I do today. I googled the date and found that it was June 6th. So exactly 16 years ago this past weekend I began, little by little, to build this career. And I've been doing so now for half my life.
I say this a lot to the young women I speak to or mentor, and I mean it so very deeply: You are already becoming the woman you're going to be.
Whether you're entering college with no real idea of what you want to do with your life, or a recent college graduate who knows what you want but aren't sure how, or how quickly, you'll get there, here are some things to remember:
I managed an artist in college, and there are days now, a decade later, that I call upon the experience I gained way back in those days. However silly or even unrelated you may think the work you're doing is, it will somehow serve you in the future.
BE REALLY FREAKING PATIENT.
Seriously, y'all. It takes time, a lot of time, to gain experience, to build credibility, to develop a valuable network, and to learn how to be the (dream role) you want to be in the very best way. Don't just put in the work but also put in the time.
LIFE IS LONGER THAN 30 YEARS.
If you're in your twenties, chances are you've counted at one point or another all the things you want to accomplish in life: dream job, marriage, family, home ownership, lake house, travel all over Europe... and chances are you've imagined doing most of those things before you're 30 or maybe 35. Well, I hope you don't. Because then what will you look forward to in the following decades? Coasting? Gracious, that sounds boring. If you aren't being challenged, you aren't living. Don't forget your thirties, your forties, your fifties, and by all means keep going. The best is yet to come.
To cast a new light on the "life's like riding a bike" metaphor, think of it like this. Those first years of your life, the first sixteen of mine, were like riding a bike with the training wheels on. Without risk or concern for what was to come. The next set is like those first rides without the training wheels. Fear, uncertainty, skinned knees that may leave scars, doing it well before falling again, learning. Be grateful for the wounds, for the practice, and though you may still fall from time to time, for the glee that you feel with the wind in your hair when you hit the next sixteen years.
Just remember, you still have to pedal to keep moving.