Ian Johnson

As most of you probably know, I play in a band outside of school. That's probably all you know about it. The people who know more, just think it’s a group of friends who screw around in my garage and shout punk lyrics into a microphone. That’s not far off, yet that only scratches the surface.

We have a few albums on itunes and we play live shows often. About once every week or two we play a show and we've played for groups ranging from 50 people in a backyard to over 1,000 people while opening for 80’s punk rock legends at the sold out Santa Ana Observatory.

Aside from just a hobby I sort of view this as a part time job in a way. I put in a lot of hours, I make money (believe it or not), I manage Social Media accounts, I book shows, and more. It’s actually a way bigger part of my life than anyone here probably knows. But I'm alright with that. I'm sure if most of you listened to my band you would just be confused and think, “what is this kids deal”, but we actually have a pretty solid following of people who share the same interest as us.

The point of this speech isn't to tell you what I’ve accomplished, but to tell you what I have learned.

For one, I've learned that it's important to find a hobby or interest outside of school. From doing this, I have made many friends and found people with all the same interests as me. It is important to find a creative outlet so your day isn't just revolved around academics.

Two - Do what you enjoy, even if others won’t understand it. The type of music we play is not what’s popular today. It originated in the late 70’s and early 80’s which is before all of us students were born. It's not all done on a computer and we actually play instruments. Slipping away from the mainstream will allow you to find things that you never have seen before and I think that's important. In the end, it doesn't really matter what other people think as long as you are enjoying yourself.

Three -  find something that genuinely interested you and roll with it. Take it to the next step and make it a part of your life. Dedicate time and energy towards it. Set goals to improve and grow. It can really be anything. But take it and push your interest forward.

Four - I’ve learned to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. That is the best way to improve. For example, my band has opened for other bands that have been around for 35 years with fan bases way larger than ours. It was quite intimidating playing for an audience primarily of adults and to look out into the group and see the members of older bands we respect. But stepping out of your comfort zone forces you to grow.

If somebody told me all of these things at once, I would have thought these are obvious and cliche, yet each of these things are and important part of growing and improving as a person. I’m thankful for the fact that I am involved in something that brings me this much happiness and insight. I suggest to take some of these points into consideration as you move forward. Maybe these ideas will help you as you continue on in life. whether it be heading off to college, starting a new year of highschool for some, or planning your future career. The important thing is to learn from your experiences and use them to better yourself.