Not Always Fun, But Definitely Always Worth It

“They’re still making music?”

That’s what a friend said when I told her on Wednesday that one of my favorite bands of all time just dropped a new single and will release a new album in three weeks. I was just as surprised; it’s been over four years since Paramore’s most recent album. Their 17-track eponymous record signaled their transition from punk rock to pop rock. “Hard Times,” the first single from their upcoming album, continues the trend.

The song layers dance beats with electric guitars and contrasts the upbeat instrumentals with serious lyrics, much like “Ain’t It Fun,” a Grammy-winning single from their self-titled album. “Ain’t It Fun” is basically the anthem of being a college student, “living in the real world” and having to rely on yourself more than others.

The bounciness of this song emphasizes the sarcasm of the title. Living in the real world is definitely not always fun. I can think of countless examples of that in my own life, as I’m sure everyone can, but one that sticks out at me right now is from July 2013, right before my junior year of high school, when my dad and I went to Nashville (which happens to be where Paramore is based) for my first college visits. I had my eye on both Vanderbilt and Belmont mostly because of their location in the music capital of the USA. I was so convinced that I was destined to be a rock star despite how grueling the music industry is. My parents warned me that it might not be right for me, but I didn’t believe them until I actually saw a glimpse of it for myself.

While walking through downtown Nashville, I heard country tunes floating out of dingy bar after dingy bar, and I peeked inside to see a few people strumming guitars and singing to crowds that basically ignored them. I realized I was seeing my future if I decided to follow the path of music, and I decided this thankless lifestyle wouldn’t be worth it even if I eventually “made it” as a singer/songwriter.

Just like that, my plan for my future went up in smoke, and I ended up sobbing my eyes out in my dad’s car for probably 20 minutes. What was I going to do with myself now? What was I going to dream about? What was my purpose?

After I finally calmed down, my dad made a comment about the song on the radio. It was one of the biggest hits of the year, “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams. I told my dad briefly why the song and artist were so famous, and he suggested I become a music journalist, maybe a Rolling Stone writer. That was the first time I seriously thought about becoming a journalist, and I soon became dead-set on it. I haven’t considered any other career path since.

I still ended up applying to Belmont because they have a pretty good journalism program, and I seriously considered going there. However, I fell in love with Mizzou when I visited for the first time a little over three years ago. I felt at home on this campus immediately, and what better place to ensure a bright future than the best journalism school in the country?

I dragged my feet and weighed my options for a while, but exactly two years ago today, I officially decided to go to Mizzou. It’s easily the best decision I’ve ever made. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s the truth. I’ve never stopped feeling at home here, and every semester I’ve learned more and more about how to be a journalist and who I am as a person.

I took the above (underexposed) photo of Francis Quad and the columns at the beginning of this semester. It was a chilly but sunny Saturday in January, and I was learning how to use a Nikon DSLR camera for J4804. I didn’t remember much of what I learned about photography a year ago in J2150, so I was pretty nervous about handling a camera, and about 4804 in general. Now that my last team and I are about to pitch our last story of the semester, I look back and laugh at myself for being afraid. Haven’t I learned plenty of times that everything will be fine?

4804 hasn’t always been smooth sailing, and neither has college. There have been some hard times, and I’ve had a couple “Ain’t It Fun”-style wake-up calls. But I’ve experienced more growth since entering “the real world” (a.k.a. starting college) than I did in all the previous 18 years, and that’s not a coincidence. The real world is awesome and I love living in it.

Happy anniversary, Mizzou.

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