14 JANUARY 2016, 04:51 PM
What a year. I asked Bryan this morning if I could write a piece about my 22nd year on this earth since yesterday was the last day of it. Knowing he would say yes, I started writing this piece in my head before I’d even asked.
These last 365 days have been a complete whirlwind so don’t be surprised if the style of this piece follows suit. I don’t want to organize this into some list of important events, or highlight 5 themes of my year, or even break things down into individual pieces of advice. This site is about telling our story and so that is exactly what I’m going to do…tell my story.
So a year ago today I was in a long term and long distance relationship that was damn near its end by my birthday. I’ve written on this site about this part of my year a few times now so I won’t ruminate on the topic for too long. What I will say is that during those early months of my year, even during the hardest of times, I believed in myself and kept waking up knowing that things would come back around in time.
The months of February through May were some of the toughest and most self exploratory periods of my life. With no family closer than 250 miles, best of friends all at different schools, and the recent loss of love…I had no one to depend on but myself. These times caused me to look within myself and ask all of the questions I had been hiding from and running away from for so long.
What do I really want from life?
What makes me happiest?
Who are the people I need to keep around?
Who are the people I need to let go?
What do I believe in and why do I believe these things?
The list goes on and on but ultimately I took the time to check every question off that list.
By the time I graduated from Virginia Tech in May, I was fully confident in myself and every decision I made. Asking all of these questions forced me to figure out what I stand for and to actually stand for it. Often the darkest of times show us the brightest of lights.
Having resolved my questions relationally, career path wise, physically and beyond I was ready to come home for the summer and blast off into the music industry…Ha! I came back to Northern Virginia full of confidence and with a brand new 21 song mixtape in the works and near completion.
I expected to be welcomed back with bits of struggle here and there, but expected more performances and collaborations to show up. I spent my entire summer from June to August waiting on other people to get their act together so I could try and make inroads into the music industry. All the while nothing ever panned out and seemingly every door that I opened was closing in front of my face or quickly behind me.
All in all I kept working and believing that if I stayed true to my craft and produced a quality product, that all I would need would be one solid connection.
This part of my year taught me to manage my expectations and realize that there is much more work involved in realizing ones dreams than many believe. It sounds wonderful to tell others that you are chasing your dream and striving to achieve your goals but if there is no hustle and no work behind those statements than all you are left with is empty potential, disappointment, and broken promises.
Despite the first 6 months of my 22nd year being depressing and then inspiring and then frustrating and then hopeful only to get stuck again…the back half of my year was unforgettable. Everything started with family…as I believe almost everything should. I was attending a wedding in Rochester, New York…which for those of you who don’t know is about as upstate as it gets. Rochester is actually further from NYC than DC is.
Besides that fun little geography lesson, I was there for a the first time since I was 16 years old. At this wedding I got to interact with extended family as adults for the first time. This was quite a pleasant surprise since I was the youngest and was used to getting treated like it.
Family stories aside, my uncle actually put me in touch with a close family friend of theirs named Brandon who had been working in the music industry for a few years and might be able to help me get my feet wet in the industry. I was able to have a short conversation with him at the bar during the reception where we exchanged stories and contact information.
After the wedding I followed up with Brandon and asked if there was any way I could help with his business and an artist he had just begun working with named Drigo. This is where everything really began. After sending Brandon and Drigo an idea for a music video, Drigo and I got in direct contact and really got to work. On my first trip up to New York City in my entire life, we met by complete coincidence on the same subway platform in Manhattan waiting for the L train to Brooklyn.
We got to talk on the train over and discuss ideas about music and life. This conversation eventually continued into the studio session and became the basis for the first record he and I ever wrote together.
In the months following up until very literally today we have been working on crafting a short EP that will be our hello to the music industry. We have worked our asses off every day to make sure that the passion we have for the project is reflected in every way possible when the audience finally receives it. These final 4 months of my 22nd year have been life changing in a completely different way.
Trying to put into words everything that I’ve learned during this most recent year of living is damn near impossible. As a long time poet I like to think that I have pretty good control over my words so I’m gonna try and sum everything up into 3 major life lessons from my T-Swift year.
1. Be honest and upfront with yourself in every aspect of your life and free yourself from the judgement of others
2. Don’t be quick to judge others, everyone has a story that you just don’t know yet…learn it
3. Wake up every single day thankful for what you have & find something you are passionate about that makes you want to wake up
This past year was 365 days long…just like every single other year of my life before it. The only difference was that this time around I took time to appreciate every second, every minute of those days.
Every day I grew as a person and challenged myself to learn more and evolve in every aspect of who I am. Today is my birthday and I don’t feel special…I don’t feel special today because I feel special every single day. Trust me I hate clichés as much of the rest of you but if you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to believe for you. Know your own worth and work to improve that. At the end of the day if you go to bed happy then that is all that matters.
So happy 23rd birthday to me and I hope everyone who reads this has as good of a day as I had.
Much love to anyone who took the time to read this…you’re awesome 🙂
Hailing from the beautiful, always hot, and mostly sunny British Virgin Islands, I am Travis Walters, a 21 year old junior at Georgia State University. Nice to meet you all and thank you for reading my story!
Where do I start? What can I even say? Well, let’s start with the sunny side of things…There has never been a time in my life, academically, where I have failed to reach any goal I have set for myself. Having graduated as valedictorian from my high school, the expectations and standards I have set for myself, by which others continuously foresee, has definitely been a motivating factor for me to continue to put my best foot forward and be successful at whatever I put my mind to.
In essence, school has always been something I have been good at – even now, with a current cumulative GPA of 4.01. With such great achievements, why do I still not feel fulfilled? Isn’t education key? Isn’t this what all kids do – go to school and get good grades? What more can I do even though I feel like I am doing the most?
After graduating high school, I realized that although I was a scholar, school was never my passion. It was at that time, I decided to take a year off from continuing my education to find what my passion really was. I knew my talents; I knew I could sing; I knew I was an entertainer. I had been performing in my hometown for a couple years now, at local talent shows and music festivals but I have always wanted more. I always wanted to spread my wings and fly pass the 24 square miles I call “home”!
With continuous work and dedication toward my craft, my efforts had been realized and that is what brought me to Atlanta, Georgia initially. Through a talent competition, I was scouted by music executives to move to Atlanta to undergo a 6-month artist development program. Throughout my 6-month tenure in Atlanta, by way of trial and error, I definitely learned first hand the behind the scenes of the music business and all the work it takes to become an artist.
Building off what I had learnt, I returned back home to the Virgin Islands after six months to perform in front of my friends, family, fans and most importantly, record labels. By the end of the night, I was offered a record deal. At that moment, music was my passion so as you would expect, I accepted!
After battling back and forth for months through lawyers, in efforts to ensure both parties of the contract were satisfied, it was finally signed! After the signing, what happened was…wait, NOTHING! I was shelved! All my dreams, aspirations and creative efforts directed towards becoming this HUGE international superstar were ultimately drained by all this “please sign, initial, read paragraph, subparagraph” nonsense that had been going on for months.
I had finally seen the music industry for what is really was…a BUSINESS! Music was no longer my passion. After being so broken, I reverted right back to what I knew best – school! I continued my education by first attending community college in my hometown to now being enrolled at Georgia State.
But I am still not fulfilled! I can feel that I am capable of more; I know I am! I have always been the type to be good at every little thing. Since having moved to Atlanta, in addition to school, I have dabbled back into music through songwriting, I have made light of my talents in photography and videography, I have taken a seat at the creative director table and lastly, I have put my best shoes on and am now walking into the direction of wardrobe styling and fashion as a whole.
So, what is my passion? Out of all these things, what am I meant to do for the rest of my life? I have no idea!
All I can do is TRUST THE PROCESS!