There are a lot of twentysomethings out there who are passionate about turning their creative projects and hobbies into their full-time careers. However, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for pulling this off. Some creative twentysomethings will end up launching successful design start-ups, some will craft trendy, must-have products and some will even get famous. But what about the rest of us twentysomethings who love to create, but can’t seem to make a ton of money doing it? Does becoming a responsible adult require putting aside our creative endeavors?
“Not at all,” answered Caleb, a 23-year-old musician.
Caleb remembers always being musical as a child. He started playing publicly around 8th grade through church groups. He sharpened his musical skills through his teen years, and became very comfortable playing in front of crowds. As a high school senior he thought seriously about making music his full-time career, but he was advised to not make music his bread and butter.
“It was my parents who talked some sense in to me,” Caleb said. “They encouraged me to go to college, and let my job enable my music rather than depend on music to support my life and future family.”
Though he agreed with his parents about the value of a college education, he waffled through his first semester of college because he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do other than music. Caleb decided to take a break after that first semester to do some soul searching. He attended a yearlong program at a Christian ministry worship school. That year was both challenging and energizing for Caleb, and gave him the perspective he needed to finish college. He chose to major in computer science, all the while playing gigs to earn money as a student.
“Music was still a huge part of my life during those college years,” Caleb said. “I can’t say that I was super passionate about my major, but I enjoyed it. While in my college program I learned people skills, how to work with a team, organization and professionalism, all of which I consider to be invaluable skills for the real world.”
Caleb credits music for getting him through school, but admits that music started to lose its luster as it became less of a creative outlet and more of a income generator. However, Caleb’s hard work paid off. Upon graduating he was hired by IBM. As he settled into his new career, music became fun again.
“Music is fun, but worrying about money sucks,” Caleb said. “I now have a career that can provide for myself and my creative goals.”
This framework allowed Caleb to accept a position as the Music Director at Crosspointe Church, which is a pretty significant role for a twentysomething to fill. Each Sunday he leads a team of about 8 musicians, and works with multiple other team leads in the church’s production department to lead 2,500 attendees in weekly worship.
“The church demographic as a whole is not very twenties, but the worship arts department is very twenties,” Caleb explained. “There is a mutual respect between the generations that has become key. For example, we’re not going to crank the music as loud as we actually want it, but the older leaders are going to trust us with these key positions and allow us to take some creative risks.”
Caleb’s plans for the future include building security for his creative endeavors by continuing to advance in his career.
He advises his fellow twentysomething creatives to consider the same plan, “Go ahead and chase your dreams but don’t seek something recklessly without the support to get you there.”