On occasion, you find something in life that makes your heart swell up. You know the feeling, right? That moment where you’re so overcome by joy that you just can’t quite find the words to sum it up? That feeling that only something like music or the colors of a vibrant sunset can capture? Maybe you’ve felt it while teaching a student to read, or while doing biology research, or while making music with an ensemble, or while doing a math problem.
I felt it in kindergarten, watching a performance at the Lexington Children’s Theatre. I remember asking afterwards, “When I’m older, can I do that?” I started writing plays, which I then forced my cousins to perform at the “talent show” I’d organize on our family vacation (sorry, Reed cousins). I performed in musicals, took acting classes, sang in choir, and played in the orchestra.
I became obsessed with this concept of storytelling on a stage.
It made my heart swell up.
So when I went to college, I decided not to abandon that passion but instead to chase it. I didn’t necessarily want to perform anymore, but I couldn’t leave the world of the arts. I just couldn’t. There are a lot of voices screaming at you when you go to college — people telling you to pick the major that will make you the most money or give you the most job security. Arts Administration was not on that list of majors, but I chose it anyways. (Thank goodness.)
Here’s the thing — you’ll have the drive to get the job and make enough money if you care about what you’re doing. If I had majored in something solely because of job stability or money, I would have failed. I wouldn’t have cared.
Instead, in the world of Arts Admin, I cared about everything. I was talking to, and learning from, people who had my dream job. I was surrounded by equally crazy and passionate people in the College of Fine Arts, who had also abandoned the “ideal major” for one that they actually cared about.
Today, I walked home from one of several Broadway shows where my name is in the Playbill — as a part of the social media team. That wouldn’t have happened if I had left behind what made my heart swell up. I now get to live in the greatest city in the world and work among some of the coolest grownup theater kids I’ve ever met, who are all also living their dreams. Because they didn’t give up on them.
You can tell who majored in what they’re passionate about; they’re thriving in the real world. Several of my friends are incredible music educators. Some are in amazing schools continuing their studies to become doctors and engineers. Some are here in New York, working for Broadway and touring shows. It’s beautiful.
And you know whose hearts are still swelling up on a daily basis? Theirs are. Mine is.
Erin Reed is an UK Arts Administration alumna who now works as Account Coordinator at Marathon Digital, a New York social media company that represents Broadway shows.