Here at Aspire to Inspire we always strive to bring you the best and most compelling stories from a wide array of world-renowned artists to industry professionals such as artist managers, booking agents, publicists, entertainment lawyers, and entrepreneurs. This week’s episode is brand new, however. We are proud to have our first ever fan feature. Our guest this week is music fan, Nap Girl, and freshman at Indiana University, Sophie Guest. Sophie says that growing up, she was very into fashion and always dreamed of working in that industry. It was in high school that her focus shifted to music and live events.

“My whole childhood and for some of high school I was really into fashion, and I thought that’s what I was going to be doing for the rest of my life. I slowly realized that what I liked about fashion was the events surrounding each show. So that led me to realizing that I could take my love for music and work in the music industry instead. So my childhood dream definitely changed a bit.”

On the surface Sophie seems like any other happy young adult adjusting to life at college. However, like so many others, Sophie has had struggles and times in her life when she was unhappy. I think most of us, if not all, have dealt with these sorts of issues, whether it be struggling to fit in, loss of a loved one, addiction, etc. everyone faces different challenges in life. However, these struggles do not make us weak. They make us strong. By sharing how we’ve overcome adversity in our lives, not only do we empower ourselves, but we can also inspire others. Sophie struggled with disconnection, and an unfortunate diagnosis of ADD, however through music she found herself again.

“My freshman year of high school I was diagnosed with ADD and taking prescribed Adderall every single day to help me focus. I felt out of touch with reality, and it just made me feel emotionless sometimes. The thing that would make me feel normal again was going to concerts. And I really didn’t like people. I went to a huge high school – around 5,000 students – so I would feel really overwhelmed and I didn’t really like my classmates. Whenever I went to shows I would meet so many cool people. I basically found my whole friend group from going to shows, and it is what’s made me feel whole again.”

I have talked to so many people at shows who often say something along those lines, where they may have struggled to fit in or face other challenges, yet music and shows are their release. Everything else goes away in the moment, and for me as well, I always meet the most fun and interesting people at shows.

Heading into college, a lot of us still have no clue what we want to do for our careers. Sophie, however, is in the powerful position of having a pretty good idea of what she wants to do. No matter what you’re selling, branding and marketing are powerful things, especially in the music world. The biggest and best artists and festivals have a successful brand behind them. It creates longevity. For Sophie, she cites her favorite artist, Krewella, as an inspiration not only because of their music and message, but also for how they’ve built their authentic brand over the years. It’s something Sophie admires and she sees herself getting into the branding or marketing side of the industry in the future.

“My first ever EDM show was Krewella in 2013. They’ve inspired me a lot to get to where I want to be and work in music. It would be very full circle if I could work with them. I just really love watching people build their brand. I would love to help an artist discover their identity and purpose, and communicate it to their fans. I was at Bassnectar Halloween and I just realized how he has built himself on this really positive, inspiring brand and people are really attracted to that because it resonates with them. That’s so cool.”

That piece of merch you bought at a show, branding. That Mad Decent shirt, the IDGAFOS hat, the 7UP bottle with Martin Garrix on it, yup, branding. That’s an astute observation; people want to connect with the story behind a person or product. As Sophie has delved further into the EDM community and industry over the years and received more encouragement, she has likewise encouraged her friends to pursue their dreams, especially if they want to work in music or entertainment.

“Whenever my friends tell me they think it’s really cool that I want to work in the music industry, if they seem interested in doing the same then I encourage them to go after it. I really like to inspire my friends to pursue their passions because everyone deserves to do what they love in life. You have to go after it, though.

I applied to be a part of this group called Nap Girls and now I’m a member. It’s a collaborative organization whose mission is to connect and empower women and gender nonconforming individuals by nurturing creative and professional growth. The group has several renowned artists including Alison Wonderland, Rezz, and Mija, along with various established industry professionals, and even up-and-comers like me. It’s helped me to gain a lot of connections and insight from such seasoned professionals. When I applied I had no idea if I would be accepted or not, but you’ll never know until you try. I had nothing to lose so I went for it and now I’m here talking about how I’m a member. I want my friends to do the same.”

We here at Aspire to Inspire really hope that hearing a fan’s story resonates with you to go out and pursue what you love and share your struggles with others. Sophie sounds like she is well on her way to a successful college career and is on a solid path to following her dreams. Hopefully hearing her story encourages you to do the same, no matter the dream. You’re never alone in whatever you may be dealing with in life and better times are always ahead. You have to be vulnerable, overcome fear, and put yourself out there, though.