You’re born. You go to school. You graduate high school. You get a degree in a field that will find you work in. You get a job selling insurance. You get married. You have kids. They get a degree in a field that they can find work in. They get jobs selling insurance… and the cycle continues.
Now, I have nothing against insurance salesmen and I think insurance is a very important thing for people to have. That said, I have absolutely no interest in selling insurance—or working in many fields. My mother graduated with a degree in business from the University of Colorado, I’ve heard her say over the years, that she would’ve rather gone to veterinary school because she loves working with animals. But, she—and her parents—didn’t think veterinary school was a very reliable career choice—which at the time it might not have been. So instead, she studied business. Since then, she has worked in a ton of different jobs, but over the years she has gradually worked her way back into working with animals. And about a year ago she started working at an animal shelter. She is 49 years old.
For almost half her life, she worked in various positions that weren’t her passion and I think it made her unhappy. Many would say she took the practical route—but the practical route to what? Financial security? Disposable income for vacations and nice things? That way of thinking isn’t practical if your goal is to be happy and fulfilled. If your goal is to be happy—you should do what you love to do. This is why I believe that life should be a livelong pursuit of self-understanding so that you can discover what excites you; and then figure out a way to make that your work.
When I graduated high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I loved sports and I loved movies and I loved comedy. I loved being creative and I loved girls. Unfortunately, you can’t major in girls—they are too unpredictable a field to possibly teach never mind fully comprehend. And I wasn’t getting drafted by the White Sox any time soon. So what’s left? Movies? Comedy? I went to high school in a town of 2000 people, there were 70 kids in my graduating class, and I lived in Wisconsin. How could that ever happen?
So I settled. I went to school in Iowa called Clarke University where I had a partial scholarship to play basketball. I did not declare a major. I tried business classes. Not for me. I tried history—I like history–I thought about teaching—not for me. More and more, it became clear to me that all I wanted was to make movies. And after a year and a half at Clarke, a semester off, and six months working building fences in Virginia—I transferred to UWM to study film.
Since then, I’ve made films, music videos, commercials, and more—I have a solid cinematography reel and I’m getting paid freelance gigs on professional shoots. What changed is I started pursuing what I love—I started practically pursuing happiness. What I discovered is that when you do what you love, you are willing to work harder than the next guy. I had always been driven in certain things, but never academia—it was only sports and girls. Now I channel my energy into filmmaking and as of last night I was selected to direct the Production Club short film for this year. We have a budget of about 20,000 dollars, we have a full crew, we’re building a set and we are shooting on one of the best cameras in the world. I got here because I’ve worked my ass off in the pursuit. If the film does well in festivals, I might have a shot at directing something more—and get paid to do it.
Recently, I’ve been trying to look inward to find more things that I really enjoy doing and it turns out that creativity is exciting to me in a lot of different mediums. I enjoy the creative process of advertising—its certainly different from film—but it’s an outlet. Writing prose is an outlet. I’ve written poetry—its shit—but still I’ve written it and felt something while doing it. I like to sing and I want to learn to play music so that I can create another outlet.
I need outlets. And so I search for them and I search for inspiration so that I can be fulfilled and experienced enough in the creative process to monetize my skills. Advertising and filmmaking are highly competitive—but I want to work in those fields because they will help me have a shot at contentment. And that is my goal—above all else.