Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart.

I’ve been inspired by the song, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” since the first time I heard it on the radio driving back to Athens on Highway 78 in January of 2012 (yes, I remember the exact moment). The lyrics have been on Post-its stuck on almost everything I own, and it’s even on a canvas that hangs on my wall in Athens. It was written by Will Hoge, and is easily one of my favorite songs of all time. Some days, that song would come on the radio in my worst moments when I was tired of school, tired of classes, tired of Athens, tired of working. And somehow, that one line, “Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart,” would always remind to just keep going. To get out of the car and go to class, to get out of my room and go to work. I had to conquer the obstacles I faced in order to reach what I wanted– and what I wanted was to live a life surrounded by music and people who shared my passion for it.

Yesterday, I went to the Grammy block party, and as I stood there and listened to Will Hoge sing “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” in the middle of Owen Bradley Park at the end of Music Row in Nashville. I looked one way and saw a lot of people who are probably really important and I just don’t know it, and I looked the other way at this man on a stage singing about dreams, and it really hit me for the first time that I’m living mine. I’m living my dreams. I’m in the city I’ve loved for so long, I’m surrounded by music, and opportunity is staring me in the face.

Tonight I went to dinner and to get ice cream with my friend Emily. We were sitting in Jeni’s Ice Cream in East Nashville, and who should waltz through the door but WILL HOGE.

Seriously, is that not insane? It’s like God just plants this Will Hoge guy and his music in my life to remind me “Oh by the way, you just have to keep dreaming and wait for the crazy surprises I’ll bring you to.”

And boy, does He bring some crazy surprises. I never would’ve guessed I’d end up here this summer. A year ago, I was indifferent about life. I didn’t even care what career I’d have or where I’d end up. I just wanted to get through one day without screwing up.

But now, here I am, a year later. I’ve made a songwriting demo, and I’ve somehow managed to move my life temporarily to my favorite place in the world and jump into the industry family I’ve always wanted to be a part of. I’ve been blessed to be carried this far by a God who lets me dream SO big.

And I don’t really intend to stop dreaming big.

Ever.

————

Thank God for Will Hoge.

 

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“Goin’ back to Nashville, thinkin’ about the whole thing…”

Yesterday I moved into an apartment in Nashville, Tennessee.

So today, I can say that I live in Nashville. I live in Music City. I live in the city I’ve loved for years. I am literally living out a long time dream.

It’s kind of surreal to be here. I don’t think it’s really sunk in that I now have access to anything and everything I’ve always enjoyed about this city. This is where history has been made in the music industry, and I’m about to dive right in to the heart of it all.

Throughout high school, I was convinced that I needed to come here and go to Belmont University. Being from Georgia, I would have had to pay the crazy expensive, out-of-state, private university tuition. I was in fact accepted to Belmont, but the amount of academic financial aid they offered wouldn’t have even dented the amount I would owe them for a degree.

In the end, I chose to attend the University of Georgia. It was close to home, and more manageable financially. Was I a little bummed that I couldn’t go to Belmont? Sure, but UGA is nothing to sneeze at either.

I made it almost all the way through my somewhat chaotic first year at UGA before I realized they had a music business program, and since I would’ve wanted to study music business at Belmont, I of course didn’t even think twice about applying to the program at UGA. At the time, I didn’t know what I was getting into, but looking back, it truly changed my life. Being in class with such passionate, talented people reminded me of just how much I love music, and getting my feet wet in the music industry only made me want to work in it more than I wanted to before.

So, as I sit here in the middle of this city and prepare to start as an intern this week, I’ve realized that not going to school here was probably best for me anyway. Why? Because if I had moved here, this moment wouldn’t be as sweet. I wouldn’t appreciate the fact that I’m living here as much as I do. I wouldn’t be so excited every single time I see that skyline from the interstate as I drive here. I would take this city and these opportunities for granted. By going to UGA, sure, I had to work a little harder to set up a temporary life in a city five hours away. But this way, I’ve had to really work for it, and that fact makes me truly appreciate this journey I’m about to start.

So, I’ve done all the research, and I’ve made it through the sea of logistics. And all that’s left to do is jump off the theoretical cliff and see if I can make a place for myself in my City of Dreams.

Let’s go.

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There I stood.

On the edge of a fountain in Nashville, Tennessee, with a 1993 penny between my palms and my eyes squeezed shut.

I won’t say what I wished for, but I will tell you that I know it’s going to come true. And it may not be for the reason you think.

Over my almost 19 years of life, I’ve come to realize that life isn’t going to hand anything to me. Luck may very well be a powerful outlook for some, but for me it’s no more than a self-fulfilling prophecy.

My dream of moving to Nashville isn’t just something I hope to reach by wishing on stars and pennies and birthday candles. It’s something I know I’ll have to climb to, and I’ve already recognized that fact.

The dream is so huge and so prominent in my heart that I can’t imagine settling for anything less. In the past, maybe I settled for less than what my heart was really after. But I can’t bring myself to do that again.

So I know that wish will come true. Not because of a dull piece of copper that now sits on concrete.

But because of the unrelenting pursuit of a dreamer’s heart.