Photo by Emily Long
I feel like I have been experiencing a quarter-life crisis off and on for a few years now, and this feeling is particularly strong since I turned 25 in June. Almost all of those smaller crises that roll up into the Crisis with a capital ‘C’ revolve around major life choices, and whether I made the right ones to get to where I want to go…and whether or not where I want to go is still a truth for me.
Sometimes, you think you know what you want, and you find out later that it’s not at all what you expected. Those nagging little voices start in your head – “You picked the wrong major!” “What were you thinking going to this school?” “Taking / turning down that job was the stupidest decision you’ve ever made.” – and they don’t go away easily. I majored in Screenwriting in college and almost switched to become a Film major when I found one class too hard. I thought if I took the more technical skill oriented classes, I’d be more likely to find a job. But I pushed through the course and realized that if I could finish that class (and that painful script), then I could keep going.
Now here I am working in the film industry, and I wonder if I’m headed in the right direction. The industry is grueling and depressing, but there’s so much about it that’s fun, too. When I ask myself why I even wanted to get into this business in the first place, the answer always brings me back to my childhood pastime of writing stories. Even my playtime adventures with friends or dolls produced what would have been fantastical epic-length sagas, had they been written down. After I decided that I wanted to be a writer, every time I wrote a scene for one of my stories, I would think, “Well, this is how it’s going to be filmed when they make it into a movie.” That’s when I realized that maybe I should just write my stories as movies to start with…and a choice was made.
A lot of us beat ourselves up over potential “wrong” choices. “Should I really spend that much on that degree?” We think too much about getting everything right the first time instead of letting trial and error go on naturally. I think we need to stop this perfection mentality and just embrace what comes. Easier said than done, believe me, I know. But, if we can stop agonizing over our choices and just make them with the best intentions and hope for the best, we will be better off.
Did I make the right choice? It’s hard to say, but I still think the answer is yes. Whether or not I stay in film, I know it was my love of creating and telling stories that led me there. I have a friend who has worn many professional hats, but wishes that his true role as “inventor” were a choice he could circle on official documents asking for a career position. I hope that, one day, “storyteller” will also be an option.