How I Learned Not to Give Up On My Dreams – Conclusion
My journey towards achieving my life's dream was far from a walk in the park. But I didn't give up. And neither should you.
Welcome to the conclusion of my three-part series on never giving up on your dreams, no matter how difficult things might get.
Yesterday, we left off with me deciding to learn another trade: teaching. I had let doubt, uncertainty, and impatience get to me, and I was letting myself give up on my dream to be a radio broadcaster. The only bit of optimism I had left resided in the hope that I would enjoy teaching as much as my wife does. And as it turned out, the teaching class I was taking involved volunteering at a local middle school every week. I got to jump into the real world of teaching right away.
It was terrible.
Now, let me be clear. I'm not saying teaching is a terrible career. Far from it. If anything, I have more respect for teachers now than I ever did before.
I am saying that from day one in that middle school, part of me knew teaching was not my calling. My place was not in a classroom, as a student nor as a teacher, and I realized that a little bit more every day.
Working a retail job I hated, plus going back to school for something I didn't want to do with my life, did not a happy Drew make. I still gave it my all, did my best, and ended up getting pretty good grades; but that was, by far, the worst 16 weeks of my life.
By the time the semester was over, I knew I wouldn't be going back for the next one. I realized I had been foolish to give up on my full-time radio dream; because I'm obviously not meant to do anything else. I decided to get back on the right path: put up with the retail job, relish in the few hours every weekend I got to be in the studio, and most importantly, never give up on my dream again.
Shortly thereafter, the store where I worked hinted they might have a management opportunity for me at a new store...in Cheyenne. I knew I wasn't going to give up on radio this time, and I really didn't want to move; but still, the thought of making more money was tempting. So yes, I was honestly considering it. After all, I could always quit if a full-time opportunity in radio came along.
I came in for one of my weekend shifts on the air, and it just so happened that Paul was on before me that day. So we got to talking, and I mentioned to him that I might get offered this retail job in Cheyenne. I'll never forget what he said to me:
That road can be really difficult to come back from.
Now, it was Winter when we were having this conversation, so Paul could have just meant that, literally, the I-25 road between Fort Collins and Cheyenne can be really treacherous that time of year. But I took it to mean more than that.
I took it to mean that pursuing this retail management opportunity was a bad idea. I took it to mean that, if I went "down that road," I might not be able to come back to radio. I took it to mean that I was in danger of repeating past mistakes.
By the time Paul was out the door, I had already pushed the idea of taking that job out of my head.
Another year passed. I never even thought about giving up on radio again. I kept doing my best at my retail job, loving my on-air time on the weekends, and spent the rest of my time applying for every full-time radio job listing I could find. I managed to score a few interviews, and even ended up being flown out to Minnesota for one of them. (Honestly, though, if they would have offered me the job, I would have turned it down. Minnesota was just not for me.) I was also very nearly hired at stations in Aspen, Peoria, Roswell, and Reno. Just being interviewed gave me a lot of encouragement, and that really helped keep me going.
Then, in September 2011, everything payed off.
I was going through my daily ritual of checking emails, when I came across a mass email sent by one of the full-time DJ's at Townsquare Media (where I was still doing afternoon shifts on the air). It was a farewell email. He was leaving the company. That meant there was an opening.
Not more than ten minutes passed before my phone rang. It was the operations manager for the stations. He wanted me to come in for a meeting.
The last thing he asked me on the phone was, "You still wanna be full-time, right?"
I tried not to cry as I said yes.
On September 26th, 2011, I officially started working full-time as a radio broadcaster. I've bounced around a little bit (I started on the afternoon show on our sister station, 99.9 The Point, then went to mornings on The Point, then afternoons here on TRI-102.5, and then recently to mid-days), but I've still never been happier. My worst day as a DJ is still ten times better than my best day in retail. I'm right where I'm supposed to be.
But I'll never forget that I almost gave it all up. Twice. In a way, it sort of makes me appreciate what I have that much more; but there will always be that part of me that wished I hadn't put myself through all that emotional hardship, when I should have just stuck to what I loved, and not let doubt and impatience get in the way.
And that's what I hope you take away from my long-winded tale: DON'T GIVE UP. Don't spend the rest of your life wondering "what if." I know firsthand how difficult life can get, and how easy it is to get discouraged; but it's important to keep going.
Happiness is your right. Never let anyone tell you differently.