There's been one thing I've constantly loved for 28 years of my life. It's something that's caused me stress, frustration and tears, but when it works out it brings me joy, pride and a feeling I can't describe. That thing is writing.
I have always loved writing. As a child, I'd write books for my parents and then force them to pay a quarter for a copy. I drafted fantasy novels on Microsoft Word, creating worlds where all the characters were everything I dreamed of being.
I fell into music writing by accident. I was never good at math or science, but I always loved english. During a day off from school, I saw an interview with Benjamin McKenzie talking about The O.C. Later that night I tuned in, and after years of listening to radio hits my ears were opened to another world. I credit that show with turning me on to Pitchfork and Chuck Klosterman. At the height of the Hype Machine and blogging, I discovered what I wanted to do — write about music.
I carried this dream with me for years and enrolled at a small college where I declared my major as journalism. At the end of the first semester I received a D in my Journalism Intro class. The professor/department chair told me I needed to pick another major. I refused.
Despite the professor's recommendation, I remained in the writing program. My grades were better in every class he didn't teach; except for science. My science professor asked me what I wanted to do when I graduated. I told him I hoped to write about music. He told me girls didn't do that.
I say all this to piece together why I started The Grey Estates. I graduated college in 2009 and for nine years I have tried to make it as a journalist. I'm not still not sure if I've made it, but I like where I'm at, so it's a win.
When I started writing I had to attend school board meetings and town events. I had editors who made me feel unwell and co-workers who hated my work. I wrote for numerous publications until I finally arrived at places I always dreamed of, writing about the things I loved.
In the midst of all this, I made the decision to just open the door for myself. I grew tired of hearing no and bowing to the whims of content controlled by clicks. I wanted to write about music, so I did.
To be honest, I never started this blog for anyone but me. I didn't expect anyone to read, and for a long time no one did. I hoped that people might enjoy my message of empowerment and passion, and that readers would grow to love a site that was more about embracing the unusual rather than the norm.
I started it because I was tired of men telling me no and feeling like I had to prove myself. I didn't expect anyone to read it. And now five years later I never expected it to receive the welcome it has. When I started TGE I was lonely, experiencing anxiety for the first time, and wanted something to occupy my mind.
I do this blog in between work and life. I do it when I don't feel too depressed or anxious to leave my bed, and when I finally find a minute between numerous freelance gigs to squeeze in an e-mail or a post. I do TGE because I love it. I love every minute of this blog, even when the e-mails pile up, Twitter is full of gripes about music journalists, and I feel like I can't handle one more thing. I do it despite years of sexist e-mails, incorrect names, and even a few fearless souls insisting that a man must run this publication. I do TGE even when others question the validity of the blog medium. At the end of the day, I continue to enjoy it, ensuring that my whole heart is in everything we do.
I do The Grey Estates because I still get lonely and sad. I wanted to make friends and create a place that welcomed me and anyone else who would read. I continue to do it because I love music so much. I love meeting everyone who reads this. I love writing about your bands. I love the feeling that comes with showing you something new or hearing a song for the first time.
Five years later and I have made friends, hosted shows, shared incredible music and found that the one thing I can do to fight against anxiety, loneliness, and depression is to write. And if someone out there is reading, and you feel defeated or maybe you're questioning if you can really do what you dream of, I want you to know you can.
No matter how many times someone tells you no or shuts a door in your face, you have to keep pushing. It won't be easy and sometimes, it won't be fun. IT IS HARD to get up every day, year after year, and hope that your dream might happen. It's crushing to experience rejection after rejection or to feel like you don't belong but you can do it. I do it even when I don't think it's possible and when I need a whole day to cry and regroup, but WE GOT THIS!
You can write, create, dream, sing, dance, paint, teach, anything you want. You don't need someone to open the door for you. You don't need someone to tell you yes. You can start it right now.
Here's my advice for you. Find the thing you love and do it. Continue to do it even when nobody is reading or watching or supporting. Do your passion project even when it consumes you, but shows little in the way of results. Pursue what you love no matter how many times someone tells you no. Even when you have to scream to be noticed and have to fight for your place in this world, do it.
And when it feels like too much take a break. Give yourself time to feel, relax and enjoy life. If you struggle with anxiety, depression, loneliness, or just with anything, please know, you are not alone. I am here. The Grey Estates is mine, and yours. The Grey Estates is your friend, your best friend.
Thanks for being part of my journey and for believing in me. Thanks to all the friends I've made, all the labels who allowed me to share their music, the bands who participated in features, interviews and podcasts. Thanks to the staff and every single person who has contributed something for this site. Thank you to those who I formed incredible friendships with and shared my heart with; the ones who answer my e-mails and texts; the strangers that became the reason I felt less alone and filled my heart and mind with some of the most magical and incredible memories.
And thank you to you, the reader. Thank you for reading, sharing, loving, encouraging, believing. Thank you for sending messages, tweets and support. You will never know how your words have lifted me out of dark places or encouraged me to keep going.
I love you.
- Lauren Rearick, founder/editor/e-mailer/writer/crier/and your friend at The Grey Estates
p.s. here's a playlist of some of the bands i've discovered, worked with and befriended along the way.