Chasing Your Dream
Hello, it's Jenny. I want you to meet my friend and co-worker, Nikki Vivas. Although, you may already recognize her from radio and/or TV! I watched her navigate one of the toughest decisions of her life. She was happy with her job. Content. Living one of her dreams. But, another dream opportunity came up. It was a huge decision. A huge leap of faith. She jumped. And while sometimes things like that work out for the best... sometimes they don't. I admire Nikki's courage to TRY. To take that leap. I asked her to tell her story because I think she's one of the bravest women I know in KC. (side note: she's also incredibly skilled at make-up and rocks her curves like no other! Nikki will contribute to other areas of sheKC soon!)
Written by: Nikki Vivas
For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to work in television and be on the news. I was convinced that I would be 'that face' that would pop up on your television screen each night and get you up to speed on current events. I spent my high school years working as the anchor of our school broadcast, mentally planning out my future as the next 'Katie Couric'! When I graduated high school, I went off to the Missouri School of Journalism where I was just sure I would be the next big name anchor. That’s always been me though, BIG dreams and even bigger ambition! I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way...so I thought.
I have always loved music and when I say love, I mean LOVE! I feel music in a way most people don’t understand. Feel the rhythm and the heart of a song move through my body. I’m crazy passionate about beats and how music takes my mind to another place. No matter your race, gender, religion, sexuality etc. music is the ONE thing that brings us all together!
The summer going into my Freshman year of college I decided to take a chance on that love of music and make a very random phone call. I was driving around Kansas City and decided to call a local radio station. I’ll never forget it, I told the man on the other end of the phone, “I love music and events...I’m not exactly sure what I want to do there, but I know I want to be a part of it.” His exact words to me were, “anyone who has enough balls to just call me up like that deserves a shot...come on in and you can start as an intern!” I wasn’t sure what a radio intern did, but man was I excited!
That summer, I spent almost every day at the radio station. I went to hundreds of events and concerts, festivals, live broadcasts, you name it! Like most internships, it was unpaid so I didn’t make a dime, but little did I know that what I made was something far more valuable than money...I made a life. Fall came and I left for MU. I was still eager to be the next Katie Couric, but I quickly found myself missing home and my radio station friends. For three years of my college career, I would find myself driving back home almost every weekend just so I could be at the radio station. Most people called me crazy, some said I was missing out on my “college experience”
Finally, my senior year of college I got an offer to be a co-host during the morning show on one of the radio stations in KC. I was over the moon with excitement, but I knew that if I took that position, I would have to move back to KC and leave Mizzou. Journalism was tough, especially the Mizzou J-school… they don’t play around - ha!! I struggled with the fact that I would spend hours finding a story, interviewing someone then editing a piece that would run, for at the most, a minute. I mean seriously, I worked for hours on one little piece that may only get 30 seconds of airtime -- it drove me crazy! I made the bold decision to leave MU and head back to what my heart longed for.
Flash forward five years - I am working as the Promotions Director for two radio stations and serving as part-time on-air talent. I have a great gig as a host for KCWE-TV and I’m loving every minute of my life. You’re probably thinking, 'okay, Nikki you sound like you have everything figured out… you’re happy, isn’t that the goal?' Well, yes. Happy was the goal, but I wanted more!
I wanted to push myself, I wanted to be taken seriously as a talent and even more, I wanted to be a positive role model for younger girls. I wanted them to look at the screen and see someone who wasn’t a size 0 or 2...someone they could relate to and say, 'hey, if she can be on TV and live her dream, so can I!' I’m a PROUD size 12. I have hips, curves and I own it! That's why when I got the call from a local TV station wondering if I was interested in a position during Morning News I felt like it was God saying, 'Hey, Katie Couric, you’re not finished with that dream!'
In September 2015 I left radio. I left the one thing that I loved more than anything! My life WAS radio, so it was hard for me to see myself without it. I had no idea who Nikki was without radio. I just knew I was leaving something that felt like home to pursue a childhood dream. Was I terrified? YES, but I knew if I didn’t take this incredible opportunity, I would regret it.
No one starts off in television in this Market. You start in Market #188 in some tiny little town. I made a thousand pros & cons lists, talked to anyone who would listen, but what I neglected to do was think about my happiness and take into account just how valuable it truly is. I started having conversations with myself like, 'Nikki you have to grow! You can’t stay a Promotions Director forever.' I was always thinking what’s next?
Morning news is a different animal. Hell, TV period is a different animal! Waking up at one o'clock in the morning, getting camera ready and then performing for four and a half hours was difficult to say the least. I watched myself go from a not-so-confident reporter to someone people trusted to get them to work or school on-time. I wanted to come across that screen as genuine, real and friendly. I wanted to be the Nikki that everyone knew and loved, but as time went by, that Nikki with the big smile and vivacious personality was gone. Something was missing, something was “off” for the first time in my life I felt alone, depressed and it was taking a toll on my health. How could that be though? I was living my dream… I was on TV! I was helping empower women so why in the world did I feel like I was crumbling?
I felt that way because my dream had changed. Along the way my reality became my dream. That random phone call to a radio station that got my foot in the door WAS my dream. The music, the events, the people I got to know (who some I consider family)… that was my dream!
"I wholeheartedly believe you have to leave what you know in order to learn what you need."
You see, sometimes you have to learn the hard way. You have to feel uncomfortable in order to grow as an individual. I had to feel things that I had never felt before in order to realize what I’m supposed to do in this life. It’s all part of the journey in discovering who you are. I wholeheartedly believe you have to leave what you know in order to learn what you need.
My advice is - never stop learning. Leave your comfort zone and experience all that you can. Some experiences will work out and some will not. Guess what? That’s okay because what you CAN bank on is learning things about yourself you never knew and growing as an individual. Take risks, be bold and remember, there are never failures just lessons learned.
Connect with Nikki
Facebook: Nikki Vivas