When Reality Sinks In, Hope Whispers One More Try

By: Laura Shand, TEDxBV '15 Artistic Coordinator

My year at Berklee was by far one of the highest of highs I have ever experienced. I threw myself into every possible opportunity, from class representative to production assistant, to becoming one of the founding member’s of the Berklee Women’s Empower Symposium, to the Artistic Direction Coordinator for TEDxBerkleeValencia ’15. I loved it all. I worked so incredibly hard on TEDx, living and breathing the event. One of my proudest achievements was securing top model Ashley Graham as a speaker for TEDx. I remember the day her application came through like it was yesterday: I was sitting in my economics class, and jumped out my seat as I read my email inbox, causing a bit of a scene. It was unbelievable to watch her speech evolve as I coached her in preparation for the event. There I was--I had the opportunity to coach someone I truly looked up to, and then see her take the stage… #Mindblown

Since TEDxBV, I have watched her momentum grow and seen the talk that I helped shape be aired on E!, Entertainment Tonight, Good Morning America… and many more! Since taking the TEDx stage, Ashley has become the first plus size model to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated; I can’t go out in public without seeing her face somewhere on magazine covers, and billboards. To know I had a small influence by simply writing to her to invite her to apply back in October 2014 is insane. This is also a small reminder that I have connected dots all my life and it's not going to stop now only because I am getting shot down in this highly competitive field otherwise known as the music business.

Like all highs, usually lows will follow, and no one really prepares you for the loss felt upon leaving the amazing community that is Berklee College of Music. I felt as though I had just gone through a major break up with over 100 people for a good couple of weeks post graduation. I lost a family. You try grasping, in the attempt to make “long distance” relationships work - with some it does work out and with others you just come to face the fact that you may not see them again (at least not for a long while). It is absolutely heartbreaking.

Sometimes it is hard to stay positive when you transition from working with so many high profile industry professionals and being surrounded by people who share your same passion to being back in Delaware living in your parents’ basement. The truth is that some dots in my life feel far away and hard to reach. While completing my studies at Berklee, I accomplished so much, proving myself over and over again. When that momentum stops, you are left not really knowing what to do with yourself next.

I feel like I have connected a few dots since graduation but I cannot make out the full picture just yet. Just as I think I am close to completing the picture, the dots disappear again. I have been to a ton of interviews, second round interviews, and even made it to the final round for two different manager positions in NYC but it seems that stubborn last dot, “the job dot”, is not ready to connect. This has got me thinking that maybe there is a reason for this. It is difficult to keep the faith when you see others becoming successful, but I have recently learned that pangs of jealousy don’t get you anywhere but hurt. My time will come, this I know! Everyone has their own dots to connect, and you can’t get distracted with the pretty paintings that other people are creating. At the end of the day, those paintings are their own and you have to focus on your own to make it uniquely yours.

I confess that when I was first asked to write this blog, I panicked, I had no idea what to write. I laugh to myself because I felt as though I had nothing to share. Then I realized the power that comes from perseverance and finding the courage to create my own painting, out of my own dots. This is why I made the decision to stop waiting for that “job dot” to appear and basically create other dots myself. In the same way I picked up and moved to beautiful Valencia, Spain to attend my dream school, I will pick it all up now and move to Miami, a city I love and that I hope will love me back. My dream of becoming a festival coordinator in the Latin Music industry might take time. But it's time I am willing to invest to design the life that I want. Fingers crossed I don’t end up back in the basement!