Jumping With a Safety Net
Lauren Fairweather is a musician and Nerdfighter extraordinaire. In 2005 she teamed up with a friend to start the Wizard Rock band “The Moaning Myrtles” which has released two albums, two EPs, and won numerous Wizard Rock People’s Choice awards. She is also a part of “Armoured Bearcub,” a ‘nerdy acoustic collab project with Matt Maggiacomo,’ and one of YouTube’s fiveawesomegirls since 2008.
When I was a little kid, I don’t remember being all that impressed by the Disney princess movies. When given the choice, I preferred their animal movies like The Lion King and Dumbo. For some reason, I found myself relating more to male and adventurous lions and elephants than I did to the pretty ladies in dresses. I guess I realized that was a little weird, especially since I had a little sister who exclusively wore princess dresses for the first four years of her life, but that didn’t stop me.
I don’t think that my lack of an ideal female role model as a young child really affected or hindered me, honestly. I just found myself being inspired by boy characters instead. There was never a voice inside me telling me that I couldn’t do what any boy could. I belted out “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” knowing that someday, I’d be free to do it all my way and nobody would be able to stop me. I never allowed myself to be limited by my gender, and I think that put me in a great place to do anything I set my mind to. If Dumbo the elephant could fly, why couldn’t I?
Mulan came out when I was ten years old, and that was a breath of fresh air for me. Finally, there was a princess who wasn’t afraid to step way out of the box that she was expected to fill. She started out as someone who didn’t fit in, which I can very much relate to. I think the part that gets me the most is that she wasn’t this outwardly strong, courageous person… she was clumsy and nervous like me. The key was that she was so passionate about keeping her old and injured father from going back to war that she was willing to do whatever she had to in order to keep him alive. She wasn’t concerned with what people would think of her or whether she would get hurt herself. If she had tried to clear it with her parents first, there’s no way they would have let her go. She just took matters into her own hands and made things happen for herself regardless of the consequences because it was what she had to do.
Mulan jumped without a safety net.
For my whole life, singing was everything to me. I belted out songs along with the radio in the car. I sang in choir for over a decade and I dreamed about being “discovered” and signed to a label someday. I took a solo singing class my freshman year of high school where I was mercilessly teased, but I stuck with it because I really just wanted to sing. I tried out for school talent shows and didn’t get in. I begged my parents to let me audition for the school musical every year, but some family problems stuck me in therapy after school when rehearsals took place. Eventually, I got out of therapy and tried out for my first show when I was sixteen but I didn’t get in due to lack of experience (I eventually earned small chorus roles my junior and senior year).
Shortly thereafter, I started The Moaning Myrtles with my best friend Nina and figured out that I didn’t need to be “discovered” to make music professionally. We wrote our own songs, recorded them on my computer, and released them online ourselves. I did my first college search with the intention to get some serious training to help me further my knowledge of performing and self-releasing music, but my parents were concerned that I wouldn’t be able to support myself and refused to let me go. I started over.
In the years that I was miserably pushing through my bachelor’s degree at a tiny liberal arts school in the middle of nowhere, I taught myself to play guitar and kept writing music in my dorm room. I ended up releasing two solo albums and an EP during the time I spent there, and I drove to faraway places to play shows on weekends and through summer vacations. Whenever I wasn’t in class or reading textbooks or writing essays, I was online increasing my Internet presence, interacting with fans, and promoting my music. I was completely prepared and in a great situation to actually do what I’ve always wanted to as soon as I graduated.
One weekend during my junior year of college, my dad drove out to visit me and took me out for lunch. He said that he was proud of me for working so hard on my music career and apologized for keeping me from pursuing it in the first place. It was too late at that point for me to transfer and start over with a music degree, but knowing that he finally understood how much this meant to me made me feel better. My parents weren’t trying to ruin my life or keep me from doing the only thing that I’ve ever wanted to do; they just wanted me to have a safety net.
In May 2010, I graduated from Elizabethtown College with a fallback bachelor’s degree in Psychology. And then I jumped.