Yep, I turned 30 years old today. It feels a bit strange. Not because of any magical or scientific mechanism for being alive for exactly three decades, but because I know that if my 20-year-old or 15-year-old self would see where I am and what I’ve done until now, he’d probably have a lot of mixed feelings: pride, disappointment, sympathy.
For some reason I keep thinking back to my 15 year old self back in 2009. I was a freshman in high school. I was in a band with my best friends, and we had plans to put out an album and become a famous rock band. I based my future on what some of my favorite artists had done: get signed to a big label by the time you are 20, and spend the next 10 years touring around the country and world, putting out albums every 2 years, and if things are still going well at 30, keep going. It was a classic dream to have as a 15 year old.
About a year later we ended the band due to creative differences and busy schedules, not to mention we weren’t very good. The dream I had at 15 slowly disappeared throughout my high school years, and I accepted that my songwriting and music making may just end up being a passionate hobby of mine, though the process of making music was something I thought I was actually really good at, so a new, albeit slightly more realistic dream took shape. I wanted to be a producer.
By the time I was 20, I had a dream of becoming a music producer, being the guy that helps artists create their music. I was attending a Christian liberal arts university with a major in audio engineering. Though I was not a fan of everything outside of the audio classes we were forced to take, I loved the rest of it and felt like I had learned enough to make it to a studio somewhere as an intern. After graduating, I got denied or ignored over a dozen applications to various studios in Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis for the first 2 years. It was disheartening, and over the next few years my dream of being a music producer slowly disappeared, and I accepted that my audio training and passion would end up being in a "sound guy" position at church to church, something I tried hard to avoid falling into since I started that journey. Not because being a front-of-house sound tech for a church is a bad thing by any means, but it was not something I particularly enjoyed and it felt like the lazy fallback that basically everyone I went to school with was doing.
It has been a few years now since I’ve done sound for a church, and I did have a lot of fun doing it over those few years. There was a period of my life that I felt like I had finally found my "home" as an adult, where it feels like everything has fallen into place that makes you happy even if it wasn’t part of your "plan" or "dream". That did not last long though, and once it all crashed down, I have struggled to recover from it, even to this day.
Some recent things I’m proud of are my three big personal projects. I released a new song earlier this year called "Haunted" and hoping to have more on the way next year. I had a big video call with developers of the game Jedi Outcast for my community JKHub last year, with plans for another for the sequel hopefully in the next week or two. That interview inspired me to create a podcast called Among the Noise that I have been co-hosting for over a year now. Between the three of those projects and a handful of other ones, I am busy with things I’m passionate about outside of my day job, and that has been fun and rewarding, and I am hoping to keep growing and learning through them as time goes on.
So, thirty. I’m hoping it’s a start of a great decade. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the good I had in my 20’s, but I can’t help but look back with a lot of contempt for most of it. However, I learned a lot, I grew even more, which is really all that matters.