This next part gets a bit tricky because a lot started happening at once. I will do my best to make it make sense.
After the high of my first fun night, reality began to set back in. I started looking for other jobs. I have a degree in advertising and public relations, so I was applying for anything music industry, advertising, marketing, you name it. I was all over LinkedIn. I got daily emails from indeed. I had written a billion cover letters. No bites.
I was finally able to get a job at a meal delivery company near my apartment. Essentially, richer people have better things to do than cook, so they order food from this company and yours truly drives all over the Nashville area to deliver it. I actually enjoyed this job during the two weeks that I worked there. I got to spend hours in my car listening to music, Tennessee was beautiful, especially in the summer, and I had some money coming in. Not enough to cover the cost of living, but it was a start.
Unfortunately, technology was not on my side. I drove an older vehicle and after a week of driving, my van had an exhaust leak. I kept driving anyway until my parents helped me pay to get it fixed. I also had an older phone with a very worn out battery. I’m talking not even half a day on low power mode. This ended up with me being stranded with half of my deliveries not knowing where the heck I was. I’d even gotten a portable charger, but when that malfunctioned, it happened again. I managed to get ahold of my boss before it died, and she was very unhappy about having to pick up my deliveries. I remember her angrily asking me “do you want this job?” I didn’t know how to respond. Did I want it? Not at all. Especially not with someone speaking to me that way. But did I need it to barely scrape by? That’s another question. But I didn’t see things going well for me if I continued, so I put in my two weeks that night to my boss at my window. Then I found a gas station that let me cry and charge my phone in enough to navigate home.
My car was too old to qualify for Lyft or Uber. A lot of people in Nashville actually can make a comfortable amount of money doing that. I signed up to do the next best thing, which was Postmates. Postmates is essentially what I was doing before, with two important differences. I was working twice as long for the same amount of money, and I could do it on my own time.
A couple of points about Postmates. First, a good strategy I had was to park outside a restaurant that seemed to get a lot of orders. For me, it was a Chinese place called Best Wok. This is especially helpful in a city like Nashville where parking is hard to come by, especially on a weekend. I drove a Honda Odyssey, and on the rare occasion I could find parking, it was usually too tight (also I suck at parallel parking.) I had another tip for you…but I just got distracted and forgot it. Sorry. I’m sure it wasn’t life-changing.
Postmates was not going to make me enough money. Even when I drove all morning and all night, I still had to use my credit card to pay half of my bills, which didn’t leave much for food and other necessities. I ate a lot of scrambled eggs and frozen turkey burgers during that time.
What was nice though was the flexibility. It allowed me to begin going to something I’d wanted to go to since I moved here. It was called “East Nashville Song Saloon” and it was basically a critique circle, so everyone would play a song and people would give feedback. I’d actually learned about it through a Lyft driver I met back in Nebraska. She’d been handing out flyers for a songwriting event down there, and when I told her I wrote too and was making the Nashville move, it turns out she’d lived and played there for over 20 years. Another important thing to remember, you should never hesitate to tell someone you’re a songwriter or aspire to be in the music business, you never know who may be in a position to help you. Tell anyone and everyone.
So, I finally made it to Saloon! And it was amazing. I’ve been going nearly every Monday ever since. Not only has it made me a better writer, but it’s also introduced me to some other amazing artists and keeps me writing at least one new song per week. Something I really love about the Nashville scene is how collaborative it is. From my experience, people genuinely want to see each other succeed, and offer help when they can. With music being such a competitive industry, it’s really refreshing. It kind of reminds me of the way people are back in Nebraska.
Another tip, especially for recent college grad’s, USE YOUR NETWORK. That is the most valuable part of your degree. Before I even made the move to Nashville, I got in contact with the president of the Nebraska Alumni group here. It turns out, there are a lot of Huskers in Nashville! I simply reached out via email inquiring about the group and how I might be able to get involved. Later on, the president of the chapter sent out an email asking for someone to volunteer as communications director. Being a freshly graduated advertising major, I jumped at the chance. I began running our email list and social media channels (mainly taking photos at our football watch parties.) I told her I was looking for a new job, and she passed my resume along to someone who passed my resume along to the man who’d end up hiring me. He called ME about interviewing, I didn’t apply.
I interviewed twice for the job. After the second one, I was feeling pretty confident. I could almost taste the snacks I’d be able to buy with all my extra cash. My heart sank when I read what I thought was going to be the email offering me the job. (It had been two weeks, the time he said he’d known by.) It turned out that he couldn’t figure out who to pick between me and one other candidate, and he asked me to send him a creative project to convince him I was right for the job. I’d been so hopeful and so worn out and hungry from postmating every day, that this almost felt like the nail in the coffin. Didn’t he see how well prepared I was? Couldn’t he feel how badly I wanted and needed this job? What could this other person possibly have on me? I was frustrated. I felt defeated. I was never going to get a job that would pay enough to live off of. Was I going to have to move back home?
I called my mom about it, with the exact tone you just read in the previous paragraph. She encouraged me to go for it anyway. That is usually the type of person I am, the go-getter the, “don’t take no for an answer” and “I’ll make it happen” kind of person. But this was getting ridiculous. I was paying student loans with my Postmates money and going further into credit card debt to make rent thinking maybe going to college had been a mistake.
I wasn’t the only Nebraskan struggling during that time. The Huskers hadn’t won a football game all season, and if you know Nebraska football culture, you’d know that is not something to be taken lightly. Our new head coach was supposed to be our saving grace, but the season, from our home opener being canceled due to lightning, had been a massive disappointment. And still, the fans showed up every Saturday, and Scott Frost sounded upset more determined than ever. I remember listening to him at his post-game interviews.
Skip to 9:32
“The thing I’m most proud of about my career at Nebraska is when I was down I fought back.”
I watched him and felt so bad, thinking about the insane amount of pressure he was under, and how big of a failure it would be if he couldn’t pull through. How brave of him to take that risk, leave a safe place (a UCF team he’d brought from a losing season to an undefeated one) to go to an environment like Nebraska, where they had just fired two head coaches within two years? A place he’d already been a hero! Can you imagine that fall from grace? The humiliation? How did he still, with everything that was going wrong, believe he could achieve what he set out to?
The Saturday after receiving that disappointing email, I watched Scott Frost get a Gatorade bath after his first win as head coach of the Huskers.
I went home and immediately started working on my creative project.