Participation Trophies

*** Technically this is from last week. I literally typed it all out and forgot to hit publish. My apologies for my very vague interpretations of "posting every Thursday" recently. ***

So fun fact that some of you that may or may not know: I have participated in karate basically my whole life. I started when I was 5 in a Japanese martial art called Taido, and am currently a 2nd-degree black belt. That being said, I haven’t trained in forever and got a call 2 weeks ago asking me to fill a vacancy for a particular bracket of a tournament. That tournament was this past weekend.

 

As a general rule, I don’t believe in participation trophies, however, I do fully believe that often times in life, participation is the trophy. To take that a step further, I believe that trophy is experience, and experience is something you can’t buy. You have to actually participate to earn it. I love that because it’s one of the few things in life you can’t actually bullshit. Certainly you can try and bullshit others ABOUT your experience, but introspectively, you can’t bullshit yourself without actually getting a little mud on your boots. I think we forget the importance of experiencing things sometimes. Far too often, we view education as something that happens only in a classroom or a lecture but think about all the greatest values you’ve learned in life. Did the ideas you consumed from a book or lesson really resonate until you had an opportunity to put them into practice? I’m willing to bet they didn’t. This tournament was one of those learning experiences for me. 

 

For the record, I failed horribly in the tournament.

I didn’t even place.

So what did I learn from losing?

That I, as a person, genuinely don’t give one single, solitary fuck about winning at most things in life.

 

Seriously.

 

There was no overwhelming sense of failure.

No doubt in my abilities.

No yearning for revenge for next year.

 

Not that I don’t think healthy competition is a great thing, I do. I think it’s a great motivating factor for a lot of people to push themselves to achieve things they might not have believed they could do before.

 

Just not me.

 

Sure, there are some circumstances or events in life that I would probably care if I win, but they’re few and far between. I’ve come to realize that I care far more about the journey than the verdict. Because the journey is where you learn. The journey is where the story is built. The journey is where you grow into YOU. For me, the tournament was an opportunity to have fun with lifelong friends of mine. It was an opportunity to see where my abilities are at completely cold after not training for at least a year. Arguably, most importantly, it was an opportunity to try and think outside the box. Because often, when your only goal is to win, you force yourself to play it safe and not take chances. When you’re in it for the experience, you’re able to experiment outside of your wheelhouse, which then takes you, as a person, to the next level.

 

Something one of my sensei’s always told me growing up is how life is a lot like a video game. Every time you do something new, or enter a new competition, or go for something you’re not guaranteed to win, regardless of the outcome, you rack up more XP to get to the next level. You gain more experience, more confidence, and you continue to learn new things about the world and yourself. It seemed like such a simple idea growing up that I often blew over it. It tends to make a lot of sense these days, though.

 

So what's the moral of the story?

 

I’d encourage you to participate in life. Take opportunities that come your way even if there’s no apparent “win” to come from it. Never underestimate the value of experiencing.  

 

Life Is A Choice

For those of you that follow me on any social media at all, you may have noticed that I’ve been road tripping across America with my best friend which has been super fucking awesome. If you’ve never done it, you need to. It’s such a cool experience and I’ve met so many dope ass people it’s unreal. So while we were in Vegas, after crashing at a friend’s I woke up and rolled into the living room where they were watching Judd Apatow's new series, Love. Almost immediately after sitting down, one of the characters had a quote that really struck me.

 

“You can’t see life as the enemy. Life is a choice."

 

It really resonated with me because even though it’s something I’ve bought into, I really loved how he said it. It made me think about our trip across the country and all the messages we’ve received from people along the way. From people admitting to living vicariously through us through our pictures to wondering if we got arrested somewhere in the southwest when there was a day we didn’t get around to posting anything (we didn’t… yet). Probably the most resounding comment Jordan and I have been receiving, however, is people saying that they’re jealous and wish they could go on a trip like this. Our response to them has been quite simple: so just fucking do it. 

 

This trip was birthed out of a season of frustration for the two of us where we constantly had excuses for why we didn’t have time for trips and things we kept saying we wanted to do and experience. Allow me to assure you, that was bullshit. We had just done a piss poor job of prioritizing our lives and became complacent in being workaholics. So we finally said fuck that and picked a date on the calendar and here we are. Incredible would be a grave understatement to try and describe our experience. In less than 14 days we have:

 

- been in 16 states

- taken 4 flights

- travelled 6,000+ miles

- roughly 100 hours in the car

- saw the blue hole in New Mexico

- experienced the petrified forest in Arizona (strongly recommend this one)

- received 1 speeding ticket (Jordan)

- received 1 warning speeding ticket (Vance)

- spoken at a conference

- tasted more wines than I can count

- had some game-changing culinary experiences

- had 2 outdoor showers

- explored caves on the beach in Malibu

- went from singing in an LA Fitness hot tub to banging out a track with The Fleet in 2 days

- made some truly remarkable friends

- found the Chip of Destiny

 

The list goes on. It was legitimately a life changing experience. Far more importantly, it brings me to an important question:

 

What’s it gonna take?

What’s it gonna actually take to make a change in your lifestyle?

 

Tragedy?

Heartbreak?

Losing everything?

How much frustration?

 

Stop watching other people experience dope shit while you stare through your phone and think, “Fuck, I should totally do that one day.” Fuck “one day”. Eliminate that shit from your vocabulary. I don’t say this lightly when I tell you it literally breaks my heart every single time someone has a conversation with me about how they wish they were doing something different in their life and make excuse after excuse after motherfucking excuse as to why they can’t make it happen.

 

Believe me, when I tell you I know it doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve spent 12 years trying to “live the dream." I understand that people have responsibilities and families which should never be taken lightly. However, you get to make a choice every day. You get to choose what you do with the hours in your day. Are those choices getting you closer to a life that you’re actually stoked about or are you making choices that keep you dredging on the same old shit you can’t stand? I beg you to pick the former. 

 

xoxo
Vance

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Legacy

We believe in the idea of legacy. But in order to leave a legacy we have to stand for something absolutely, even in the face of obstacles and oppression. A code in which you live by no matter the circumstances. It can be good or it can be bad. Whether it’s in regard to your work, your relationships, or your values, it will be forged long before it’s remembered.

 

What is your legacy? 

xoxo
Vance

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Never Have I Ever

I’d love for you to stop and take a moment to reflect on how many things to which you’ve responded: “I (never would/never could/never should/will fail if I) do that”. 

Nope.

 

Actually stop and think about it for a second.

 

What comes to mind?

 

     - That time you saw a beautiful girl and wanted to just walk up and boldly ask her on a date but didn’t have the balls because you assumed she’d shoot you down?

     - How you keep wanting to start working out, but every time you walk into a gym you see a bunch of ripped ass dudes and chicks redefining the potential for yoga pants and decide to say "fuck that noise" (pro tip: super ripped people had to start somewhere too)?

     - The time you passed on some foreign cuisine you were offered because you assumed it would be gross based on its looks even though your friend assured you it was delicious?

     - Maybe you tell everyone you know that you would never go skydiving because “You don’t want to die” when deep down you desperately want to try it.

     - Or how about that hobby or passion project you think about every day but assume you could never make a viable business out of because it doesn’t look like a traditional job and there would be risk involved. 

Honestly, I don’t believe it’s intentional. I think it starts with putting something on the back burner and saying we’ll get to it one day. Then life happens and we keep on keeping on. We become comfortable in our routines and eventually over time things that would have once been small steps out of our comfort zone become daunting mountains to climb.

I’ve always been a pretty open minded person. Then this Christmas my mom gave me a book about doing something every day that scares you. For me, pushing my comfort zone tends to be less of an “I would never” and more of an “I won’t enjoy that” kind of issue, but I’ve still tried to take the principle to heart. I’ve been consciously forcing myself to be intentional in being open-minded to things that might be outside of my typical wheelhouse, and I have to tell you, it’s been pretty damn rad. And the cool part is that most of them aren't ridiculous outlandish things. It’s been an exercise that’s so simple but so refreshing at the same time.

Some of the things for me so far this year:

     * Doing a downtown New Year’s party with 150,000 people - For a guy who’s favorite thing is being in front of people, being in a crowd really stresses me out

     * Singing karaoke - I’m sure this is odd, considering singing is my job, but it’s always been a weird thing for me. I always want to have control over how a performance is going to go and karaoke throws up a middle finger to that

    * Dancing my ass off in a New York club till 4 am - I suck balls at dancing. I wish I didn’t, but this is one of those things that I always find a way to never find the time to improve upon

     * Talking to strangers - This is one I’m constantly trying to work on. I’m usually pretty good at being able to find some common ground when I’m introduced to new people, but the cold intro on my own is something that I’m wanting to improve upon.

It’s crazy how much fun I ended up having doing all of those things when in the past I would have written all of them off before I tried. It’s not a rocket science kind of thing and it won’t be the same for everyone, but I’d encourage you to try some new things. Even if the seem small, every time you try something new you grow and gain a new experience and learn a little more about yourself and the world.

Email me and let me know some of the things you try and how they ended up working out for you!

*SHAMELESS SELF PLUG*
I put out a new music video this week and I'd love for you guys to check it out and share it!

xoxo
Vance

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Don't Stop Believing

Life is a journey.

 

Although, a lot of times it feels more like a roller coaster with the speed at which it can go from awesome to tragic to above average and anything in-between. 

 

For most of us, our life is pinnacled by major achievements or landmarks we hit. Making it out of high school alive, getting into college, graduating college, getting your first real job, getting married, moving on to a less shitty job, having kids, and so forth through the years. During the good times, these events tend to stay distant memories unless brought up by random circumstances or while reminiscing on past times with friends that shared in the moments. We don’t really need them when we’re happy because we’re busy being stoked about what’s going on in the moment. Unfortunately, far too often when we’re faced with tougher seasons, instead of finding solace in these achievements/life-wins, we typically see it as us falling off or failing in some way. We blame ourselves for mistakes we’ve made and dwell on the idea that had we not done X/Y/Z, we could be living whatever lavish dream we’ve made up in our mind. 

 

Maybe.

But probably not.

 

Living in an era so driven by social media certainly doesn’t help the problem. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly thankful for the resources it provides, but when everyone only posts the super dope shit that they experience, we forget that everybody still has to deal with shit on the reg too. We tell ourselves we’ve somehow failed because we aren’t posting pictures on the same beaches, or getting Instagram endorsements for tea that will magically make you skinny, or getting tagged in photos from whoever’s whatever whoopty-fucking-do of a party. Some of those things are fucking dumb (I’m looking at you fit tea), and some of it takes a lot of time. I’ve got friends that get to travel to different countries every month of the year, but guess what? It didn’t happen overnight. They worked their asses off for years to get the job they wanted that now allows them to live that kind of life. 

 

Millennials (I’ll remind you that I am one), tend to struggle with the amount of time it takes to achieve the things we want. Personally, I’m super thankful to have grown up in a home where my parents told me I could do anything I wanted in life as long as I worked my ass off. Some of the folks in my generation got the pep talk without the ass working section. Then they see the houses, cars, and random other nice shit their parents have, and when it occurs to them that they don’t have the same things at 25, they feel as if they’re failing. Reality check: neither did our parents at 25. They have 20-30 years on us invested into blood, sweat, and tears to have the amenities we’ve had the privilege to enjoy. 

 

I have to constantly have to remind myself of this. Not so much with my parents, but with the fact that when I left Nashville, all of my friends:

Got record deals. 

Or publishing deals.

Or on arena tours.

Or a slew of other equally, aggravatingly dope shit

 

Seriously.

Damn near every single one of them. And if I’m honest, at first, it bothered me, and frustrated me, and I had the why them over me battle in my head. Then it occurred to me to stop being a fucking asshole. It made me ashamed of myself when I thought about it. The reality is that my friends had worked their asses off for their goals, most of them for over a decade. If I’m anything other than stoked beyond belief for their success’, then fuck me.  Because at the end of the day, that’s what it really comes down to: putting in the time. 

 

However, as with most things I write about, I’m not just talking about professionally, but relationally as well. I was having a conversation with a dear friend of mine the other day who recently went through a breakup. I’m operating under the assumption that every single person reading this blog has either gone through a breakup or watched your friends go through them and therefore, I’m going to spare you the story. All you need to know is that it was your typical breakup. What’s far more relevant is how my friend was feeling through the whole situation. Obviously, he was hurt. Breaking things off is never an exciting thing to do. But what’s worse was that the more we talked, the more I realized he didn’t believe he deserved/could do better based on some choices he’s made in the past. We had a long chat, aired out the feels and all that jazz, but it was that conversation that inspired the moral of this story:

 

Life is a journey.

 

You are not defined by the mistakes you make. You become defined by how you grow from those mistakes. What you learn from those mistakes. You’re defined by the resilience in your pursuit of your goals even when times are hard and you feel like giving up. Just remind yourself you’re in good company:

 

~ Walt Disney: Was fired by a newspaper editor because “He lacked imagination and had no good ideas."

~ Theodor Seuss Giesel: Dr. Seuss’ first book was turned down by over 20 publishers

~ Michael Jordan: Was cut from his high school basketball team

~ Hugh Jackman: Got fired from 7-fucking-11

 

I’ll sign off with a quote from Chris Pratt:

 

"It's 3:20am. I got picked up for work at 6:45am yesterday. I'm not good with math, especially after being up for approximately 61 hours but I think I've been up for over 77 hours. I did a table read for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 this morning and then shot all day on Passengers and just now wrapped some 144 hours later. Weirdly both films, which I'll be shooting back to back, are being shot in Atlanta at Pinewood Studios. We have the best crew. Total rock stars busting their asses. And the stuff we're shooting. My God. I can't wait for you to see it. I go back in in about 8 hours to do more. I am doing what I love. It doesn't feel like work. Even though it is. I'm having fun. I'm overcome with joy and gratitude. I felt like posting this to say to anyone out there chasing your dream... Fifteen years ago I felt the same passion I feel today, but I had very little opportunity. I had to hustle hard and go hungry. I had to eat sardines and figure out how to get gas money. And I never had a plan B. I never stopped believing. Ever. Don't give up. Apply constant pressure for as long as it takes. It will break before you do. Go get it."

xoxo
Vance

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Do It

For the record, I’m literally doing this post because it’s something that I struggle with this All. The. Fucking. Time. I feel like most artsy/creative folks do. But considering my blog comes out on Thursdays, and it’s 4:47 pm on Thursday and I’m just getting started, it seems an appropriate topic. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let you guys down on month 1.

 

I think it's fair to note that my tardiness isn’t due to a lack of thinking about what I was going to write. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. This will be the third post I’ve started working on this week. Not that the other two were bad (I’m sure I’ll finish them and put them out in the coming weeks), but the thinking shit get’s in your head, and before you know it, I’m unsatisfied with the direction of the topic, and I’ll have to rip it apart and rebuild from the ground up. It’s really a vicious cycle.

 

Which brings us to the resounding theme of this week's title.

 

Do. Shit.

 

It’s so easy to get caught up in details that truly don’t matter in the long run. Creatives know what I’m talking about. As a collective it’s certainly our Achilles heel. No matter how awesome something we create turns out to be, it’s never good enough. There’s always a flaw. There’s always something that can be better. We make excuses for delays and why things need to be pushed back when in reality most of us are just nervous about how people will respond to our work. It’s hard not to be when you’re so emotionally invested in your art. It’s a piece of you.

 

Personally, I do it in music all the time. I’ve been hung up on parts of songs before, that were so irrelevant most people would never even notice they existed. It’s laughable in hindsight, but somehow I continue to do it more often than I’d like to admit. Everybody does it, though. We desire something in life and then overthink the shit out of the details until we psych ourselves out of actually going for it. How many people have you heard say they want to travel and then never go anywhere because they don’t have the money?

 

So save some money...

 

Most of the things people make excuses for never getting to aren’t rocket science, just unknown, and that can be scary for a lot of folks. Think about anything you’ve ever done for the first time. Maybe it was the first day at a new job? You were excited about new opportunities, but you were nervous. It’s a new environment, you’re not sure if people are going to like you, and you don’t know how things work there yet. Now think how normal that environment became the more time you spent there. It’s easy because you understand how it works. 

 

Most things in life turn out to be that way. 

 

I’ll bet there’s something that’s been on your mind for a while that you’ve wanted to try/explore/experience/do and I’d just encourage you to not pass that idea by. Don’t overthink all the what if’s and give yourself a reason to doubt. If you want to learn to cook, Whole Foods has classes. If you want to learn a new language, Duolingo is free and you just have to put in the time. If you want to take that trip to Thailand you always dreamed about, put a date on your calendar and start saving a little bit of money every week. It will shock you how fast it adds up. And hey, if you want to write a blog, just do it. You might be surprised how many people are interested in what you have to say. I certainly am.

xoxo
Vance
 

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What Do You Want?

Who doesn’t want to start with a clip of Ryan Gosling? Am I right?
 

The journey of life is a continually interesting ride the longer I’m on it. It’s fascinating to experience as you grow through different stages and the stereotypes that come along with them. Obviously, the most recent one I’m currently having the pleasure of participating in, is the 20-something, young professional phase. One of the most eye-opening realizations of this decade is just how polarizing it is. From the beginning of your 20’s, when most people begin to realize how much they don’t have a clue about anything (budgeting, paying bills, how to cook more than ramen, the repercussions of spending all your money partying with friends on payday and having to eat said ramen for the next two weeks until you get paid again) to encroaching on your 30’s, when you may not have everything together in life, but most people begin to have a relatively established idea of the life you want to lead. From people getting married and starting families to hustling up the corporate ladder trying to be as successful as possible. There are the ones that settle into whatever came their way after high school/college that gave up on dreaming in lieu of something safer. And of course, you’ve got a few that are still sucking on that parental teet for every drop it’s worth. During this stage, most of us end up facing the “Holy fuckcicles, Batman! What am I doing with my life?” quarter-life crisis, which I personally believe is an important self-reflective hurdle that we all need to go through. It’s a pivotal moment that either solidifies the path someone has chosen, or it can be an incredible  turning point that launches a person into potential they didn’t realize they had. I like to call this the “Get Your Shit Together” stage. 
 

The major catalyst for this Get Your Shit Together stage is realizing you’re not fulfilled by what you spend all of your time on. Doesn’t matter if it’s a job, relationship, or how you occupy your free time. Internally, shit hits the fan and you have an overwhelming realization that something has to change or you accept defeat and become content to be unhappy. It’s unfortunate, but remarkable how many people I know that make fucktons more money than me and hate their job every day, or friends in relationships they don’t want but are too scared of the idea of being single and having to work on themselves. 
 
Which brings us to a segue. 
 

To the kids in or on your way out of high school: There are a lot of people, telling you a lot of things about how to not ruin your life and what you should do if you ever want to be successful. Most of this will be paired with the idea that if you don’t go to college you’ll probably die. I implore you to take these opinions with a grain of salt. To the ones of you that know what you want to do, by all means get at it. If you’ve dreamed about becoming a doctor, lawyer, or rocket scientist for as long as you can remember, then get in the best possible college you can and go kick ass at it. Be the best in your class and use every resource your school has to offer you. Maybe some of you want to go into a particular industry that you’d be best off trying to obtain an internship or a mentor and working your ass off, moving your way up by hustling over the next several years. If that’s you, crush it. However, I’d bet a vast majority of you don’t have a single clue what you really want to do with your life, and that’s ok. 
 

I’ll repeat myself:
 

THAT’S OK!
 

People put so much undue, and quite frankly, ridiculous pressure on you guys to have all the answers to situations you’ve yet to be faced with, which has always been bizarre to me. And this isn’t meant to be condescending, negative, or degrading in anyway way, shape, or form, so please, please, PLEASE take this in the spirit in which I mean it. The reality is that you haven’t actually been alive that long, which is neither bad nor your fault. You’re young and in an amazing place to learn so much which is super rad. Many of you have never had a job. You’ve never had life away from your parents with the freedom and consequences to make your own choices. Life after high school is really your first opportunity to delve into figuring out who you are and who you want to be. The best thing you can do is to just get out in the world and start living. For some of you, that’s getting a shitty job and a shitty apartment with a few friends (which sounds terrible, but for me was an incredible learning experience). For others that might be saving money from summer jobs and take some time backpacking through Europe. Use your imagination and start working towards something. Even if it’s not a perfect situation, it will help you begin to learn about yourself and begin to illuminate the things you do and don’t care about. However, do not, I repeat, DO-FUCKING-NOT get pressured/obligated/guilted into going to college when you haven’t decided for yourself what you want in life, just to party your ass off and collect $100,000 in debt. That’s just foolish. If you want to party, I’ll be the last person to throw stones, but you’d be infinitely better off getting an apartment near a college campus, and working for a restaurant. You’ll have more money than all your friends, still get to party with them, be able to find out just how fulfilling a life of partying really is long term, and most importantly: YOU WON’T BE IN INSANE AMOUNTS OF DEBT. Seriously. 
 

To the college/post-college/young professionals and up: Do you love your life? Are you fulfilled by what you wake up and get to do every day? If so, fanfuckingtastic! Keep doing what you’re doing. If not, welcome to the stage that I was in and have had to/still work through. 
 

Most of us have some semblance of a path we’re trying to follow by this point in our life. Be that as it may, we end up lacking joy or a sense of purpose even when we do seemingly dope shit. For me, I began to truly find solace by asking myself the question, “What do you want?”. If you’re feeling the way I did, I’d urge you to ask yourself the same thing. And don’t be a bitch about it. “Rich and successful” is a shitty answer. Come up with something tangible and quantifiable. Once you’ve got something specific to shoot for you can begin to look at every choice you make in life through the lens of, “Does this get me closer to my goals?”. If the answer is yes, by all means do it. If not, pass on it. I started doing this towards the end of last year, and it’s been absolutely game changing for my life (you can check out my personal goals for 2016 here). Rome wasn’t built in a day and your life might not turn into a ball of fucking sunshine overnight, but if you can constantly make measurable progress towards a life that’s going to bring you fulfillment, it will totally be worth it long term. You’ll be amazed how quickly you start seeing the joy seep back into your life.
 

Are you gonna try and make some changes in your life to get you closer to your real goals? Hit me up and let me know! I’d love to hear about it!
 

xoxo
Vance

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Wanna just say hi? I’m all about it! Holler at your boy! 

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Let’s get real for a moment.

 

The night fucks with me. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. It’s the time of the day in which my mind runs rampant, which as a creative is my most valuable resource. It allows me to create, which in turn allows me to pay my bills. Whether it’s writing songs, finding engaging/compelling ways to help people tell their stories, or bringing live events to life in the most efficient and entertaining way possible, 10pm-4am keeps a roof over my head. This is totally cool with me because I’ve always been naturally more nocturnal anyway. The danger with living your life running down a never ending rabbit hole, however, is that the second you let something bad in, shit get’s dark. Real fucking dark.

 

The very nature of living on the opposite side of the clock as the rest of the world is that you’re alone, and therefore, there’s no one sitting next to you assuring that things are going to be ok. So you do the only thing you know how to do: turn to your friends from the Islay's (aka: Scotch). And in a weird, fucked up sort of way, you begin to feel assured by your vices. You’re told your whole life that great art comes from struggle, and as soon as you get a taste you begin to realize that it’s way easier to create when your life gets shitty. So you start making poor choices more consistently and becoming numb begins to feel like a superpower. You wave it with a badge of pride, and honestly, it works for a while. Bad shit in your life makes for great storytelling, which at the end of the day is what all creatives do, regardless of their medium. Unfortunately, despite all my best efforts, it’s not sustainable and you inevitably hit a breaking point. No matter how hard you try, you can only run/hide/drink/fuck/smoke/your vice of preference, away your problems, fears, and insecurities for so long. There comes a day when you either face yourself (which sucks major balls) or you begin to solidify yourself as something you never wanted to be. All of a sudden, you realize that being numb isn’t as cool as you thought it was. 

 

Or at least, that’s how it felt for me.

 

But let’s redirect a bit.

 

One of the coolest parts of what I do is that I constantly get to meet new people everywhere I go, predominantly teenagers to 20 somethings which is a blast. I love hearing their stories and what they dream about. Unfortunately, there’s a flip side. By being a person that young people feel like they can talk to, I often get the bad with the good. And while I don’t take for granted the fact that they trust me enough to be honest about their life, it totally bums me out. It sucks to see someone that so desperately wants to sell out to a dream in their life that makes their heart feel full, and everyone around constantly breaks them down over it. Parents telling them they need a safer option. Teachers and counselors telling them that they’ll never be successful if they don’t follow the American dream path to “success”. Their own friends question them when they want to pursue something out of the ordinary. Let’s not even get started on frenemies/haters/general assholes just waiting to shit on somebody else because they’re insecure with their own life. 

 

What sucks more is when the constant berating of a kid’s dreams drives them to vices way too young. People don’t like to talk about it, but when no one you care about is supportive in your dreams, it fucks with your soul. I feel like the general adult public doesn’t realize just how common it is, but it breaks my heart every time I meet a teenager that struggles with drinking, drugs, cutting, or contemplating suicide all because they don’t think there’s anyone in the world that believes in them or that their life doesn’t matter.

 

To the kids out there that feel alone: I’ve spent plenty of time coping with my fair share of vices over the years. Currently, one of my biggest struggles is that I’ve reached a point in my life where my mind is a constant battle of who I am today vs the legacy I want to leave (they’re not the same). Most days I don’t know which side is going to overtake the other. I know what it’s like when your mind refuses to let you sleep at night. I know what it’s like to feel alone, even when there are people that would take a bullet for you. But you HAVE to fight through it. There’s always someone that cares about you, even when you don’t think there is. Find that fucking person. Don’t be scared let them in. They believe in you. They want you to succeed. Fuck, I want you to succeed. Hit me up. Tell me your story. But at the end of the day, we’re all in this life thing together. Let’s start treating each other like it. 

 

To the parents/teachers/people of influence/general adults: I fear you gravely underestimate your sphere of influence in the younger generation. Despite the fact that you may think no one is listening, don’t give up on them. Believe in kids. Give them the benefit of the doubt. They need you whether you like it or not.

 

I’ll leave you with a quote from Josh Shipp: “Every kid is ONE caring adult away from being a success story.”  


xoxo
Vance

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Communication Is Everything

For a long time I’ve believed that the majority of the world’s problems could be solved through communication, because frankly in my humble opinion, we fucking suck at communicating. I'll be the first to admit that I blow at it. Doesn’t really matter what the topic is. Take whatever you’re upset with someone over, and most likely it stems from the fact that one of you misunderstood what the other wanted/said about you/expected of you. 

 

It can be professional relationships. You think your boss is an asshole and get’s a raging erection over the idea of shitting on your work, where in reality you let your artistic vision get in the way of what a client actually wanted in a project or thought deadlines were more of a "suggestion" (I’m looking at you creatives).

 

It can be platonic friendships. You see your best friend pop up on Instagram in a pic with your ex and suddenly you’re prepared to curb stomp him for his disregard to the bro code, when truth be told, your ex is fucking crazy (that’s why you broke up with her, remember?) and she wouldn’t leave your homie alone at a party asking about you. 

 

It can be random people on the street. I've watched girls I know cuss out chicks across the bar because they thought "She looks like she's talking shit about me" (more likely, they probably weren't even looking at her, or if they were, they probably thought she was hot. I've got some attractive friends).

 

Obviously, it can be romantic relationships. I’ll skip all the obvious ones and jump to what I believe is the greatest evil in love: false expectations. People like sex. Therefore, people say the things they feel will help them achieve, you guessed it, SEX. Which is totally cool when everybody is open about what they’re looking for. The problem presents itself when you start saying what you think the other want’s to hear. Now you’ve got no real long term goals, while they are planning their future because you started using words like, “love”, “ marriage”, “family”, “forever”. And before you start bitching at me, I get it. Our generation has a hookup culture. We think we’re hard as fuck. We take pride in being emotionally void. Our parents couldn’t make it work, so let’s not waste our time on such “archaic constructs.” I've done that whole song and dance and I call bullshit. It all sounds super cool until you wake up at 27 wondering when you started doing shit you swore you'd never be apart of and you begin to try to figure out why you're incapable of investing into another human being. At the end of the day, if we’d try growing some balls and telling someone what we really think, we won’t necessarily get what we want all the time, but we might not resent each other so fucking much over stupid shit.

 

So Vance, why are you even talking about this, you ask?

 

Because I have become a victim of my own bullshit, and while I don’t believe my life choices should be a roadmap for any human being, I figure that if I’m going to fuck up situations with such excellence, hopefully, someone else can learn from my mistakes.

 

So let’s dive back in history.

 

I used to live in a town called Nashville. I then left the city of Nashville (I’m sure one day that will become a post of its own). But while I was there, I fell for a girl who was frustratingly beautiful and had a smile that made my heart stop. We’ll call her Erika. Was she into me? I don’t really know. I’d like to believe she was, but I suck at taking a hint. Like fucking for real, I can’t take a hint. Combine that with some poor timing and nothing ever came of it. Anyway, longer story short, when I was leaving the illustrious city of Nashville, I threw a small going away gathering (aka: SHIT. SHOW). Not that it should ever be a term for a grown ass man, but I fully managed to embody what some refer to as a “HOT MESS”.

 

I may have had a little too much to drink.

 

Ok, I had a lot too much to drink and blacked out. Twice. Which I wasn’t actually aware you could do before that night. I literally didn’t know 98% of what happened, so obviously the next morning I sent my friends the courtesy, “WHAT THE FUUUUUUUUCK HAPPENED LAST NIGHT??????” text. They started filling in the details. Praise Jesus this is pre-Snapchat days. One of them told me Erika was there and that she made sure I didn’t die. Do I remember seeing her? Sure don’t. So I text her apologizing for whatever it was I probably did and tried to see if she’d grab coffee with me before I left town. She shot me down. Feeling the weight of the cone of shame I was already bearing, I didn’t really press the issue and accepted defeat.

 

So let’s flash forward.  
 

I had a project come along that we needed a female lead for, and out of nowhere, Erika was the first person that popped in my mind for the role. I knew she’d be perfect and kill it, but I had spent the last 3 years assuming she hated me, and would likely never talk to me again. So I did what any responsible adult would do and made a pro/con list (Shout out to Benny Franklin). I came to the conclusion that the worst thing that could happen would be for her to tell me to kindly go fuck myself and then not speak to me for another 3 years (nothing to lose, right?). After debating for a few weeks and some nudging from Gary Vee’s Instagram, I decided to grab life by the balls and see if she’d be a part of it.
 

*****  I’d like to pause for a moment and note that this is a horrifically unprofessional life choice and I don’t recommend it. Don’t mix business with pleasure. It’s a cliché for a reason. DON’T FUCKING DO IT. Seriously. *****

 

Shockingly, she went for it. Like I literally fell on the floor when she said yes. Then I pulled myself together and we ended up spending a week together working on this project.

 

***** If you want a way to super fuck with your emotions and it be no one’s fault but your own, hire someone that you have feelings for to play a role in which they have to fall in love with you. I’m telling you, it’s dumb. I’m trying to help you here. DON’T MIX BUSINESS WITH PLEASURE. *****

 

So we spend this week together, reminding me of all the reasons I fell for her in the first place. She had somehow become even more beautiful than I recalled, is one of the most talented people I know, and has zero disregard for my feelings in letting me know when I turn into an asshole and say douchey things (apparently this happens more than I ever realized). Finally, at the end of the week, I ended up asking her about that night 3 years before and admitted how I was afraid of her hating me. Turns out that despite me making an ass of myself at the party, she was just busy when I wanted to see her.

 

Mic drop.
Internal face slap.
World stopping moment here.

Let me reiterate:

I ASSUMED SOMEONE HATED ME FOR 3 YEARS BECAUSE I MISREAD A TEXT MESSAGE.

Just wanted to make sure that was clear.
 

So for the love of God, talk to people. Be honest with them. Lay shit on the table and let it land where it’s gonna land. At least, that way you know, and don’t have to spend 3 years hating yourself for something you made up in your mind like me.  
 

So what’s next? I keep on keeping on. If I’m honest, it feels like we’re in different places right now. Both in life, and often geographically. So while I’m very much still into her, we’re finally friends again, and that’s good enough for me. If at some point down the road we’re both in a place where that turns into something more, fantastic. If not, that’s totally cool too. The more important fact is that she taught me a lot about myself in our week together and she probably doesn’t even know it. I’m eternally grateful for that. For now, I’m gonna just let whatever happens, happen, and for the first time in a long time, I’m cool with that.


xoxo
Vance


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Hate it?  Email me! I always appreciate constructive criticism.
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Wanna just say hi? I’m all about it! Holler at your boy!  

NEW YEAR // NEW YOU

Sounds all too familiar, right?

Yeah, I feel the same way. 

 

I’ve never denied the value of reflection or making resolutions for a new year. Self-improvement is always a positive thing in my book. I’ve just always said I was going to do it, and then kept on living my life because #yolo (remember when yolo was a thing?).

 

However, this year was different. Partially because I started a few months ago, hitting a breaking point and deciding that I could no longer live the way I’ve accepted for too long.

 

To be fair, my life doesn’t suck. This is not a sob story of how unfortunate I’ve had it, cause that’s just not true. And honestly, that’s been a major part of the problem. On paper, my life is super dope. Telling my friends about what’s been going on and where I’ve been, they all tell me how jealous they are and how they wish they could live like I do. It’s one of those things I always laugh off, but I get where they’re coming from. I get paid to fly around the country and put on pretty rad events, have a zero fucks given attitude, and I’m a narcissistic yes man who lives for the story. But I’m also one of those people who only talks about the good stuff. I always feel like people have their own shit in life and don’t really want to hear about mine (starting this blog is weird for me because it goes 100% against that, but we’ll get there in a minute).
 

It was a weird thing to wake up one day and look at my life and realize that all the elements of it were things I loved, but I still wasn’t happy. It bothered the shit out of me and so I started doing some soul searching to try and figure it out.

 

Surprisingly, I learned a couple things:

 

- That despite being a workaholic and always being gone, I was never actually getting any closer to my real goals in life. 

- That I was really alone. I had stopped investing into people that I cared about and had zero community in my life.

 

Unfortunately, once you realize a problem in your life, it’s nobody’s fault but your own if you don’t make the change for the better. So that’s where I’m at with all this; trying to work through the wall I’ve hit. So for once in my life, I have made some resolutions that I’m gonna try my damnedest to stick to (hopefully everyone will keep me accountable on them by posting them on the interwebs):

 

1. Make music sustainable - 2015 I was able to transition to doing creative work full time without a shitty day job. 2016 I want to shift the pendulum to where it’s fully music driven (I’m sure I’ll always take clients for various projects, but I don’t want to be dependent on it).

 

2. Be on tour 300 days a year - Yeah, 300 is a shit ton, and I may regret it if I actually get what I say I want, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take. I love traveling. I love experiencing new cultures. I love meeting new people from new places. And if I get to play music while doing those things? Perfect.

 

3. Be happy - I don’t know if I’ve figured out the recipe for this one yet, but I’m hoping that by focusing my energy into things I love, that it will come. I’m working on investing into people again, which unfortunately means being way more transparent because the reality is that you can’t get any closer to people if you don’t let them in. And that's the major driving force behind this blog: transparency. My best friend challenged me to do it, so I’ve decided to give it a go. I wouldn’t say there’re any real expectations for it, but I hope that if you stumble upon it, it helps you feel like you’re not alone out there when times get tough. If you ever need someone to tell your story, I’m always here to listen.

 

xoxo  
Vance
 

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Hate it?  Email me! I always appreciate constructive criticism.
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Wanna just say hi? I’m all about it! Holler at your boy!