Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

I’m a Black Woman from East Oakland and I LOVE Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi is on their  “Because We Can Tour and I want to go.  I have two problems:
  •    I have no one to go with to the show. Apparently, there aren’t too many other black women from East Oakland I know who like Bon Jovi. Actually, jokes and race of friends aside, I’m the only one in my crew who likes them a lot.
  • The concert is about 1 hour away and I‘m not sure if I’ll feel like making that drive. 

BUT, I’ve wanted to see them for a long time. I know Bon Jovi first became the shiz-nit in the ‘80s. However, I didn’t get into them until 2001. I actually did a piece about how I came to love them on NPR a long time ago.

Long story short, I was in college contemplating if I should do an exchange program to the HBCU Spelman College. I dreamt of being a Spelmanite since I was a little girl. I was accepted to the school but didn’t get enough financial support to attend. I went to UC San Diego instead.

While at UCSD, I learned of an exchange program to Spelman. Some relatives tried to discourage me from applying because they thought I should just stay in San Diego. It would cost too much. What will do with your apartment? You’re doing too much.  Blah, blah, blah. You know how people can be about YOUR dreams and goals. But you can’t let others’ fears dictate your life.

I sat in my bedroom contemplating what to do. I was watching MTV and “It’s My Life” came on. Normally I turned the station when I saw the video because I wasn’t into rock back then. And MTV played that video constantly because it was a huge hit at the time. For some reason, I decided to watch the video that day. Those lyrics changed my life. Seriously.

It's my life, it's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just want to live while I'm alive

It's my life
My heart is like the open highway
Like Frankie said I did it my way
I just wanna live while I'm alive
It's my life

Hmmm…”I just wanna live while I’m alive”? The 100-watt light bulb came on.  I decided then that I would live for me and go to Spelman for the semester. It was one of the best decisions I made. It was one of the best times I had in college, if not the best.

And so I started listening to Bon Jovi.  “It’s My Life” became my pump song. When I need to pump myself up, I play this song.  That song kept my spirits up through grad school, unemployment and other personal stuff. It helped keep my faith in myself and see the bigger picture for myself in life.

I also like the band because they talk about real life stuff, like love and overcoming hardships. Their songs have a story.  I grew up on hip-hop and still love it, especially stuff from the 1990’s.  I’m not feeling the new stuff today. I can only take so many songs about sex, clubbing and money. I can only take so much “bitch this” and “hoe that” lyrics. 

Maybe I’ll go solo and check them out in San Jose this spring. I’ve always had this wish to go to a Bon Jovi concert in black leather pants with my afro teased out. LOL I don’t know why I’ve had that fantasy. I guess it’s because I can. 

More about Bon Jovi’s tour:

UPDATE: I grew a pair of eggs and decided to buy my ticket. I'm going to my first Bon Jovi concert! 


  1. Too bad you don't live on the East Coast. I love Bon Jovi and so does my cousin in New Jersey. Lots of black female Bon Jovi fans here. ;)

  2. @ Erika,
    So that's where all the Bon Jovi lovin' sistas are. LOL Another reason why I need to move to DC. :) Oooh if we all went it would be so much. I know something crazy would happen. Good crazy. :)

  3. Has the concert happened already? If so, I hope you went. I love Bon Jovi too. I grew up in Nigeria and I've discovered quite a few people here who love the band.

    My favourite radio station plays at least one Bon Jovi song everyday. Infact, they are playing 'Hey God' as I type this. LOL!!!

    Anita Baker is my favourite artist and I went to see her in concert by myself as no one else could make it. I was daunted at the prospect, but I had the best time ever!!!!! In the end, it didn't matter that I went alone.

    1. The concert is next month and I haven't bought my ticket yet. Wow your radio station plays a Bon Jovi song daily? That's cool!

      I commend you for getting past your fears and going to Anita Baker by yourself. I love, love, love Anita Baker. I'm glad you had a good time. The Bon Jovi concert is next month. I'll see if there are tickets left. If so I'll go. Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. Yes, it seems like the people at the radio station are HUGE Bon Jovi fans. It's not a joke! Mondays are dubbed 'Rock Mondays' (seriously!) and Bon Jovi is in heavy rotation.

    I hope you got a ticket to the concert and I look forward to a review.

    1. Ore,
      I just bought my ticket Friday night! And I will be rocking out in my car on Monday morning to celebrate. I rarely hear Bon Jovi on the radio out here. I need to move to your city. Thanks and I will have a review for after the concert next month.

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    3. Well there aren't a lot of black Bon Jovi fans where I live. I only saw 3 other black people, not counting the security. There may have been more, but I doubt if there were even 50 black folks in that arena of thousands. I hope you get to see them play one day. They really put on a good show and they play ALL of their hit songs.

  5. You should go even if it's alone. I've gone to lots of concerts alone cause I want to see ppl and with most ppl I don't share the same music tastes even w/ my husband. I went to Sting alone and Prince, glad I did. Go, have a good time, but the leather pants, and meet some awesome guy and have an awesome time. Then tell us all about it. And yes lord, Jon Bon Jovi is aging like fine wine.

    1. I love Sting. I can't believe you had a hard time finding someone to go with you to a Prince concert! Prince is amazing. I'm glad you enjoyed the shows. I did go to the Bon Jovi concert. I did write about it. I had a GREAT time. No leather pants and meeting a hot guy this time. :)

    2. Jenee, I happened to research African Americans at Bon Jovi concerts because I will be going Wednesday night in Dallas, TX at the American Airlines Center baby!!!!!! I was just curious how many sistas (besides myself), love Bon Jovi! LOL!!!!!! Im so excited!!!! This is my first Bon Jovi concert, and I'm ready to kick it. Oh, and I"m a professional African American female. I have loved them since I was a kid in the 80's!!!

    3. You are going to have sooooo much fun!!! I live in Northern California and there aren't nearly as many as black people as in Dallas. But when I was at their concert, I only saw one other sista in the crowd. Actually, when I was up dancing there was a brotha there with his white girlfriend. He looked at me like, "You came here because you wanted to?" LOL I think his girlfriend made him come.
      There were very few black people but I didn't let that stop me. I had a good time. They were great and they sing ALL of their songs. You will get your money's worth. Girl enjoy the concert! Rock on my sista!!!

    4. And you can read about my experience at the concert here:


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