Late Night Thoughts: Fear, Determination, and Following Your Heart

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Last week was a huge deal for me. Huge. And I rambled a lot about it on Facebook and I likely posted one too many photos on Instagram, but I feel like I need to dedicate a post to it. Partly to tell the story, and partly to talk about what I’ve learned along the way and why this entire experience has instilled a fierce determination and drive in me. I think it’s a good one. Correct me if I’m wrong.

One thing you can count on in Toronto is that at least half the concerts you want to go to will be nineteen plus. And it sucks. Never in a million years did I think that The Vaccines would be one of those shows. I spoke for months about seeing them live, imagining what every song would sound like and how Justin would jerk his head away from the mike after finishing a lyric or how they would all crowd around Pete as the drum solo of “I Always Knew” escalates into oblivion. I was hopeful. The day the show was announced I screamed a little. My heart beat fast as I scoured the internet to figure out the age restrictions and when I found out I wouldn’t be able to go, I was devastated. As dramatic as it is, I felt like my world had crashed down around me – this is my favourite band of all time. And I wouldn’t be able to see them headline a show.

I was about two clicks away from ordering a fake ID for the gig. But I’m a pretty responsible person and I usually follow the rules and I felt extremely anxious every time I thought about getting caught. Also, as a general rule, fake IDs just probably aren’t a great idea. I really had no idea what to do. Sitting at home on the date of the concert – inevitably listening to the band’s discography on repeat and crying into my pillow – did not seem like something I wanted to do. I had heard from a couple people that bands sometimes let kids in through stage doors. At the very least, I knew that spending the day outside of the venue would likely result in meeting The Vaccines. I just had to do something, and as crazy as this sounded, the ideas tore into me until I couldn’t ignore them.

Katelyn agreed to go with me. We’re always extremely supportive of each other, and insane ideas are no exception. If anything, they’re the ones that receive the most support. So on August 28th, we headed downtown to wait outside of The Opera House just to see what would happen. I was terrified. Terrified that nothing would happen and that I would walk away feeling defeated and disappointed. Terrified that we were doing this for no reason and that I was going to make Katelyn wait out in the blazing August heat for hours on end for nothing. But we still did it.

In the end I met three quarters of the band. Three men whose music has gotten me through the past three years. Whose words inspire me every day and who in all honesty have helped shape me into the person I am today. I unintentionally base my outfits off theirs and I scribble their lyrics on my palms when I’m bored and I constantly sing their songs despite the fact that I may have the worst vocals in the history of the world. They mean a lot to me. Meeting them was everything I could have asked for.

I was the first to meet Justin. There was a moment of panic as Katelyn tapped my leg and said “Dude. Dude dude dude,” under her breath as he made his way toward us. And then a sense of calm settled in and I got over my awkwardness and we started having a normal conversation like we’d met before and we were acquaintances or something crazy like that. He’s a sweetheart and he was incredibly sympathetic when we explained our situation. Both he and Freddie tried to figure out a way that we could lie about our age our get around showing security our IDs. He signed my “Dream Lover” single and we took a photo together and at that point he noticed my tattoo.

I recently got a new tattoo – an image of a hand with its fingers crossed and the words “give me a sign” framing the illustration. The phrase comes from one of The Vaccines’ songs. When Justin pointed it out I nearly died. He told me how cool it is and he took a photo and before leaving to grab a bite to eat he mumbled something about posting it on Instagram. The next day it showed up on the band’s account. At that point I couldn’t comprehend that any of the events of the previous twenty-four hours had actually been real. I can’t remember the last time I had experienced such raw, sheer happiness. I felt like I was on top of the world.

After meeting Justin, Freddie waltzed out of the tour bus in pristine, white Levi’s jeans. We spoke about the music video they had shot the previous day and how embarrassing the outfits were. He mentioned that Justin probably feels guilty that my arm is inked with his lyrics. We took a photo in which he looks incredibly lost, and I laugh a little to myself every time I look at it. I met Arni later and Katelyn told him how luscious his hair is and he apologized after she said that she aspires to be like him. The good vibes were intense that day. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

I guess the moral of the story is to trust your instincts and follow your heart. Listen to what your gut is telling you and shove fear out of the way. Muster up all the determination you possibly can and remember that the things that are supposed to happen will happen. That’s applicable to everything. It’s not just for when things don’t go your way and you have to find a relatively creative way to try and meet your favourite band in the entire world. These are things to think about every single day.

A huge part of the experience was letting go of doubt. And of fear. Fear keeps you from doing so much and it holds you back and it shouldn’t. I want to be part of the music industry with everything I have and I’m not going to let fear stop me from doing that. The best things happen when you forget about fear. All too often I’ve let fear stop me from doing things and from putting myself out there and I’ve realized that I never need to do that again. Fear is a myth.

Meeting The Vaccines has brought about a new wave of inspiration in me. Talking and interacting with them ignited my creativity again and I finally feel like I can channel that into writing this post. It also renewed my determined spirit and reminded me just how dedicated I can be when I want to be. All that drive is being transferred into school. I’m getting ridiculously excited about my program and I have tons of ideas running around my head. I feel like I owe some of that to The Vaccines. They made me realize that when you want something bad enough, you’ll know. And you’ll do whatever it takes to get it and it’s so important to do that and to dedicate yourself to what you want and to put in the hours and make it happen.

I’m still struggling to understand how a few hours out of a single day have taught me so much about every aspect of life. It’s crazy to think about how something so small can turn everything upside down and make you see things in a new light. At this point I’ve rambled on way too long, but I needed to get this out. I needed to realign my thoughts and I feel like this is somewhat valuable. I feel like I’m trying way too hard to be inspirational, but I wanted to talk about how important it is to follow your heart and to constantly remain as determined as possible and to separate yourself from fear. Trust me. It’s so worth it.

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