I know where you're at: sitting in class, stressed out, listening to Jenna and Isabel list off their 15 internships and new contacts they gained from working an "elite" event yesterday down on Music Row. A constant reminder you're not good enough, feeling like you're failing even though you just started, but it's ok.
Let me explain to you why it's okay to be 18 or 19 or 20 and still feel like you're not "working."
Coming to Belmont and choosing to study Music Business, you're aware you're not going to have the "state school" or even the typical college experience, but that doesn't mean you aren't entitled to be a kid and enjoy your time as a student. It's actually the only thing you're entitled to right now.
First, let's talk Nashville. Nashville is full of people who have been working in the biz their whole life, which leads to them marrying people in the biz and having children who are born into the biz. So Anna from Music Publishing, who you begin to compare yourself to, her moms an A&R rep from Big Machine, and her dad worked in radio for twenty-five years. Anna's been surrounded by people her whole life in the business, her parent's closest friends either cut deals or had their own and it's not her fault. Anna is a hard-working, smart girl, and she has a ton of opportunities you don't have yet; and that's ok. This is her passion too and she just has a leg up because of how she was raised; she's working just as hard as you, I promise. Don't resent her just because the people in her life happen to be in the biz.
Second, you need to manage your expectations. You're constantly feeling like a failure, or you need to be working harder, right? Stop setting unattainable expectations for yourself. You can't live every day in hopes of that "big break" or that you're going to meet someone who's going to hire you and "change your life." Of course, this is the case for a select few, and by few, I mean like 1%. You're going to be miserable if you keep minimizing all you've accomplished in your very short time at Belmont to your idea of what success should be; it is only going to slow you down and depress you. Making a name for yourself in the biz takes years, time, effort, and of course luck. But think about how many 18-year-olds you see working full-time at a company; not a whole ton. Relax, you can still stand out and make a name for yourself but there's no reason to white-knuckle your way through college. As soon as you stop expecting things to happen, your expectations will settle and you'll relieve a lot of your self-inflicted stress. Nothing is entitled to happen and that's ok. Enjoy being 18 because it's going to fly by.
Understand that you need to support your friends, not bring them down. Kara is going to have an internship with a big company, and Ben is a really talented songwriter being offered a publishing deal. Even though you feel you could have these things at the stage you're at, you don't and that's ok. Everyone receives different opportunities, and everyone's opportunities come at different times. Ben and Kara's opportunities came really young, and that's awesome, good for them. They might have something you don't, and that's ok, you will have that "one thing" down the road. Instead of being jealous or stressed you don't have something they do, champion them and support them. Stop making it about your success and marginalizing yourself to your friends, this has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you.
Stop networking with your classmates and actually get to know them. People are really good about seeing when people are using them vs. getting to know them. Of course, it's great to expand your social web, but don't do it with expectations that they're going to boost you up the ladder; you'll never create a solid basis of friends. Let people just connect with you, and if it turns into a business relationship, cool, if not cool. You'll feel a lot less lonely. And If you have a falling out with someone who is well established or has a couple connections, it's ok. Friends have falling outs and no one is going to go out of their way to "slander your name."
Sometimes people don't get called back and that's ok. Sometimes your friends are going to get called back and you're not. Sometimes you just won't hear from someone. A lot of the time it's not a personal thing. Don't overthink and let your "lack of employment" waiver your opinion of your work ethic. Of course, there are always things to learn, but sometimes there's just a better fit and it has nothing to do with you. But if you do make a mistake, don't let it harbor over your head forever, move past it and learn. We're all human, things happen and sometimes you're going to royally mess up. Yeah, people will remember, but time will make it more subtle, and someone else will mess up. It happens, you can't be perfect all the time, you're still learning.
Stop feeling guilty for having a social life. It's ok not to spend every minute working on projects. Don't feel guilty that you're not spending your Friday night writing music and you're at a party. It's ok to be young and hang out with your friends, you have your whole life to work. If you've always wanted to visit France but there isn't a music business program but you can knock some fine arts credits, do it. It's ok to have experiences which aren't DIRECTLY related to your work. It's ok to remove yourself for a little while, you can't live your life in fear of missing an opportunity. Opportunities arise everywhere.
In conclusion, you're doing fine. In a "normal major" most kids don't even look for internships until their senior year if that. The music business, although cool and sometimes more stressful, is just another professional field, just like medicine or social work. So, just keep it in mind everyone can feel this way. If you want to choose to spend your college career just being a student, do it. If you want to work 100 events a semester, do it. Don't let another student tell you what's best for you, it's different for everyone. So remember, the next time you feel inadequate, lame, behind, or even like a failure, you are not alone. Take a deep breath and look at things rationally and keep on chugging along. You have your whole life ahead of you to build a career.
A girl who's had this conversation too many times with her mother.