Making Personal Growth

I was speaking with my cousin today – a totally awesome dreamer and creative who is my same age and yet has accomplished so much more than I probably ever will – and we were discussing the pros and cons of work that is creatively satisfying (if not quite what you want to be doing) vs. work that is mundane yet stable. The conversation brought up a lot of insight as to what is most important: your immediate happiness, or your ability to satisfy your personal creative and financial needs while working towards eventually meeting your career goals.

The answer: It’s a toss-up, really. Both hold merits, and it likely just comes down to individual needs and specific job opportunities. But what the conversation really reinforced for me was the idea of personal growth.

No matter what you’re doing, make sure you’re doing it for you.

The obvious consensus here is that you should always be taking into account what you want to be doing with your life. Meaning, not just creative and career goals, but things you want to achieve for yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. Hence, your personal growth. Any job you have or decide to take should lend itself in someway to helping you reach these goals, whether that’s through immediate exposure (i.e. being an assistant to someone who is doing what you want to do and who will mentor you), or through stable flexibility (i.e. a job that isn’t really what you want to do, but that allows you the flexibility to work on what you want to do in your downtime OR gives you enough of your week that you can focus on your passion as a sort-of side job).

And herein lies the dilemma and heartache, because which do you choose? There are risks to both; the first, which might be more creatively satisfying in the moment, may have you spending much of your creative energies focusing on that which does not directly help your own goals. The second will allow you to spend your creative energies how you wish, but without the guarantee that you will find a direct way toward meeting your career goals. Both provide risks and benefits. Perhaps the decision will not be up to you; perhaps you will only come across the opportunity for one or the other.

You will have the opportunity to choose one thing: to pursue your own work, always. Meaning that while there are plenty of stable jobs out there that you could pursue, you have the ability to choose one that lends you the flexibility or opportunities you need to create the career you want. This might not be easy to find, but it’s worth the work and search.

Just some thoughts. Good luck on whatever your career endeavor may be.

-tlc

A Blog Post: Thanksgiving Edition!

November has been a whirlwind month. Crazy things have happened. It’s as if I had my summer vacation in the fall (September and October) and November is my August wake-up call back into the heavy school-year grind that was my life for 20 years or so. With everything that has happened, I’ve got a lot to reflect on, and a lot to be thankful for, so in the spirit of the holiday, I thought I’d share some of those thoughts with you.

  1. Finding my way in LA
    • I’m not going to say that I have LA figured out, nor am I going to say that I’ve successfully infiltrated the entertainment industry, because if there is only one thing I’ve learned in my year and a half of being out here, it’s that this town and this industry is one crazy roller coaster full of ups and downs and failures and small successes. I will say though that so far I have never felt like my time being out here has been a waste. I’ve learned so much about the human condition, relating to people, subcultures and pop culture and the fight for social equality and the American mindset vs. international POVs and these are all things that a little Dorothy like myself couldn’t have learned if I’d stayed back in Kansas.
  2. Being Employed
    • I normally don’t talk about my own personal views on politics or religion here because I want this place to feel as inclusive as possible, and I often find that once a person knows your stance on something, they peg you with 1,001 misconceptions and stereotypes that they hold against whatever that view point is, whether it is actually true to your own person or not. I’m sure I’m even guilty of doing it–it’s almost second nature for people to do this; we love placing people and things into categories. However, on this one thing I must say that I do believe in God, and–though I won’t say that I somehow magically am awarded jobs because of this (because that’s ridiculous)–I do wholeheartedly believe that my trust in something greater than myself has kept me sane and financially afloat. Whether you are religious or not, I do believe that life has a tendency to work itself out, if you are patient, discerning, and don’t panic. I am very thankful for that.
  3. Midwest Roots
    • There are a lot of things I find wrong about the conservative mindset that you find all across the Midwest and into the South. But if there is something I’m very grateful for, it’s being raised surrounded by Midwesterners. Though the world is small in the heart of America, the heart of America is as big as the world. These people are the kindest, most generous, and most open that I have ever come across. Being raised with what I like to call, ‘Midwest Manners,’ is one of the greatest assets I have, and I’m very, very thankful for it.
  4. Friends
    • Okay, so everyone gives this almost expected answer at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Sometimes I roll my eyes because it’s so generic. But this year, after moving out to a huge city where I knew practically no one, I truly do have to say that I am so grateful for the friends that I have met and clung to. They have made living in LA durable and worth it. They have taught me the valuable lesson that it is always, always about the relationships you have in your life, not the material items or status or career. You could literally be living in the absolute most beautiful and perfect city ever, and if you had no friends there you would still be miserable. Life fact.
  5. Family
    • The other generic eye-roll answer, but I love them so much and am so grateful for my parents, siblings, and nephews. Everyone needs unconditional love in their life, and I have a lot of it. So very very thankful for that.
  6. You, Dear Reader
    • Last, but certainly not least, I am thankful for YOU! Though most of you probably also fall into one of the two bullets above, it means a lot to me that you take the time to read these posts every week. Though it may not always seem like it, I put a lot of thought and time into what I write and share with you, and I hope that you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy making it.

Happy and most delightful belated Thanksgiving, y’all.

-tlc

Freelancing

Several times since graduating, I’ve entertained the idea of staying at home, working remotely as a freelancer. And granted, I do freelance work already, as a social media manager and copywriter. But since finishing up on my last production job, the idillic dream bubble of a flexible freelance schedule that would allow me to work in my pajamas everyday has been burst. I am so stir crazy it’s not even funny. And when it comes to maintaining a productive schedule for my own writing and pushing my career forward (as well as applying for jobs) I’m terrible. It’s not that I’m unmotivated or disorganized, it’s simply that I’m me, and when I don’t have an endpoint, a visible or viable purpose, I don’t worry too much about impressing me, because I can’t fire myself.

I also start talking about myself as if I’m a separate entity, because clearly, staying at home has made me go crazy.

I went to lunch today with another Hollywood assistant, one a little more seasoned both in his career and life, and he made a lot of great points and had a lot of good insights about working in this industry and building a career out here. It was awesome listening to him talk about his goals and how he got to his current job, as well as about his cats. (People out here can be so quirky and I love it.) But he mentioned something in passing that really stuck with me. He said, “If  you can see yourself anywhere else, if there’s anything else you think you might want to do, go do that, but if this is what you want, if you can’t see yourself doing anything else, then you’ll do whatever it takes to get where you want to go.” Kind of a sharky thing to say, don’t you think?

He was addressing my concern at not having the thick skin required for working at an agency out here, or being an executive assistant on the development side of the industry. He made a good point; it’s not really about having a thick skin at all. It’s about choosing to have a thick skin when you need one. Hence, the above quote.

I’d like to dive into this topic more in a separate post, since I really do think it deserves its own meditation, especially coupled with the revelation my roommate once revealed to me that we each control our own emotions, ergo, no one can make you feel anything that you, yourself don’t choose to feel. But for this post, I’ll stick to the quote.

It’s funny, because a few months ago, when I was working on Instant Mom, if you had asked me if I could see myself doing anything else, I would have probably told you no, hands down, without question. After a couple months sitting at home, though, you start to forget what it feels like to have a weekly obligation. To go into a job every day and serve a purpose other than for your own individual needs. You forget what it feels like to be a part of the magic of production.

And now? I don’t know. I’m not sure what I feel. I still want to write, don’t get me wrong. But it’s hard to want something that doesn’t want you back. And maybe I’m feeling mopey, because I’ve spent too much time in the house, watching Netflix. But it’s a tough world out there. And it’s hard to navigate a life that doesn’t come with guidelines. It’s hard to find answers when you don’t even know the question.

Even if you don’t work in the entertainment industry, I’m sure many of you have crossed this bridge before. I have, and I’m really not that surprised that I somehow find myself having to cross it again. But I guess when we look back on things, this is really what makes life interesting, isn’t it? It’s the unknowns that teach us the most, and really take us to places we didn’t realize we wanted to go. If you’re going through something similar, I hope that in the meantime, you can find creative ways to keep yourself financially secure.

I know that financially and physically I’ll be okay. Emotionally and mentally are more difficult when you’re going stir crazy. I guess it’s a good thing that I live so close to theme parks and beaches. If you don’t, I highly recommend taking up knitting. It’s a life saver.

-tlc

Oops, I Did It Again

Can you guess where this is going? No, it has nothing to do with relationships, and no, I didn’t meet Britney Spears over the weekend.

I missed a post, AGAIN.

I’m sorry guys, but when it rains, it pours. (Unless you live in LA, and then when it rains, it’s just a few sprinkles.)

Actually, I have a very good excuse for last week’s oversight. I was on the road to South Dakota, for a last-minute, unplanned visit to see my grandmother, who has been sick and in the hospital. I even extended my trip home (I was supposed to be back in LA two days ago, but then life happened) because I wasn’t sure what the outcome of this week was going to be. But for now, it looks as though nothing is going to change, including the number of living grandparents I have.

That week sitting in the hospital got me thinking, though. How many of us actually think about death, or near-death illness at our age? It’s not an easy topic to think about. It’s heavy. Sure, we see it on TV and in the news all the time. We’re desensitized to fictional death and death on screen. I’ll admit, I’m still not sure I’ve fully aged out of the phase of feeling invincible.

But dwelling on our own, eventual, (hopefully) far-off deaths doesn’t really do us any good. Sure, there’s that well-used concept of living like you’re dying, but no one in their right mind would fully dive into that idea, when the hope is that you have several decades of future life to plan for.

**I would like to take a moment here to side-note that at this point in typing this post I had a sneezing fit, which has never happened to me before, convincing me that I am indeed allergic to death**

Instead, I spent most of the week thinking about my mother and how she dropped everything and ran to my grandmother’s bedside when my grandmother needed her most, without a second thought or care to her job, prior commitments, or responsibilities (she’s got a classroom full of animals and she instructed my dad on how to feed/take care of them after she was already on the road). This isn’t to condemn anyone who, for whatever reason, can’t do that. Even my mother acknowledged how lucky she is to have a job that will not only give her the paid time off, but also guarantee her job for up to two years, if something would keep her from going back for that long (not that they would pay her for those two years, but that’s besides the point).

But while my mom sat in there, with a real job and responsibilities on the side burner, I was the one feeling strangely anxious. I say strangely because while I’ve been between production jobs, I’ve been freelancing remotely to pay the bills. This means that as long as I have wifi, it really doesn’t matter where I am–I could do my job in Siberia if I needed/wanted to. Yet, instead of giving my full, undivided concern and attention to my loved ones sitting with me, I was anxious about the strange pull I felt towards LA, as though I needed to hurry back. Which is ridiculous. Why was I worrying about rushing back to nothing, when my grandmother was sick and needed my love right in front of me?

I think the real question we should be asking ourselves about death lies in that scenario right there. Where are our priorities, and why? If your loved one was on their deathbed tomorrow, would you drop everything–your job, your apartment, your pets–to go be with them? If it was going to take days, weeks, months, maybe years, would you stand by their side and help them through illness and/or death? Or is there something holding you back? Do you care more about your job and career than you do your loved ones? Concerned more for the health of your dog than your mom, dad, sibling, etc?

Why is that? Why do we care more about materialistic things than our families, relationships, and friendships? In Hollywood, it’s very easy to see the successful people at the top who have pushed away everyone they’ve ever loved, or who has ever loved them. And it’s even easier to see how miserable they are. And the saddest part? I see the super wealthy people in their later years and think, why? What’s the point of having all of that money when you certainly only have maybe a decade–two at most–left to live?

So, no matter where you go or what you do in life, I hope you find success. But I hope you also realize, as I did this week, that’s it’s more important to find people. So I also hope that no matter how much success you find, that you’re able to drop everything to be with your loved ones, should they ever need you.

Because money can’t buy you happiness when you’re dead.

-tlc

Taking A Moment

So last Thursday was my last day (for now!) as a PA at Instant Mom. In the midst of coming to terms with that and looking ahead at an open schedule, I totally forgot to post a blog. It was the first Friday that I didn’t publish a post all year. Oops. There goes my perfect record. I imagine this is how kids who have perfect attendance feel when they come down with the flu.

Okay, on to actually making a point.

I use this blog a lot to talk about change and dealing with that, especially at a volatile stage in life, like post-graduation. The funny thing is, every time I think I’ve come to terms with change, I am actually faced with that change and learn something new about the difficulties in letting go, and the dangers of nostalgia. Yes, I said dangers of nostalgia, and if you don’t believe me that nostalgia can be dangerous, just look at the slate of blockbuster films lined up for the next five years. Nostalgia, folks: killing creativity one multi-million dollar franchise at a time. (Mr. Columbus, if you’re reading this, I would happily renounce everything I’ve ever said to be a part of the Goonies sequel.)

Overall, I think it’s good to be happy, even when you know change is coming, and coming shortly–I mean, that’s the point, right? Why even bother if you’re not happy with the way things are (change them!). But my newest worry is that such a nomadic lifestyle career will make longer term commitments more difficult. I don’t know why, I just find things to worry about. It’s who I am. But it’s a valid point, if you’re used to constant change, how do you learn to trust something more stagnant or stationary? How do you continue to find excitement, year after year? Will this affect my relationships and friendships?

It’s a weird idea to cross my mind, because my career trajectory at this point (even if I never work another PA gig) is not going to find me in the bowels of an office building, typing away at a computer screen all day (the hope is to do that from home, eventually!). But it’s a valid question I have to ask myself, because how do I go from here, in LA, to something smaller, quieter, and more quaint, should the need ever arise?

Well, the truth is, I don’t know. But honestly? I know I’ll be fine because this past year has taught me to have confidence in my ability to find happiness. And I know that whatever comes next, no matter how far from what I’ve imagined, I’ll make the most of it, and it will be great, because this last year has taken me far, far out of the realm of who I thought I was, and really made me exam my fears, my goals, and what I really want out of life. Do I have answers for any of those things? Good lord, no. Do I have a sense of who I am in relation to those things? I’d like to think so. I guess we’ll both just have to wait and see.

Until next week (I won’t forget again I promise).

-tlc

The Journey Ahead

I’ve been sitting at my desk all day trying to figure out what it was that I needed to do. I had this horrible feeling that I’ve been forgetting something all week, and it finally dawned on me that in the midst of trying to stay on top of everything else, I’d totally spaced on writing this. Thank God I remembered at the last possible second.

It’s been a totally crazy two weeks. Along with wrapping up our last episode of season 3 production, we had our wrap party, I wrote three articles in one week for one of my other jobs, and I’m prepping for a labor day weekend road trip up to San Francisco with the roommates. Not to mention maintaining my other jobs (I have four total–one I do in person and three I work on remotely)  and trying to plan a short trip home for a mini vacation to see my wonderful nephews. Needless to say I’ve been busy.

But despite all of that, I had to stop and take a moment to really take in all that’s happened in the last year. Well, really, all that’s happened in the last 7 months. I’ve learned so much, transformed so much, and met so many great people that I am truly astounded. I look around at all that I’ve gotten to experience, and it’s hard now to think back to a year ago when I wasn’t sure if any of this was possible. It’s even harder to think back to a year ago and really believe that I had the courage to move in with complete strangers, in a city that I didn’t know, with no job prospects, working full time as an unpaid intern, half a nation away from my family. To this day, I’m not sure if it was pure insanity. But you know, through all of the struggles (believe me, this year has been tough) I’d do it all over again, because where it’s taken me, and what it’s shown me I’m capable of is beyond invaluable.

I don’t talk about this often, but when I was in middle school, I suffered from severe anxiety. At one point, it was so bad, I couldn’t make it through a day without bursting into tears and calling my dad, just to make sure he was still there. That was one of the toughest times of my life, and it took a long, long time for me to fully recover from that. It was so bad, I even worried that I wouldn’t be able to move away for college. In fact, a lot of people teasingly joked that I would never move that far away from home. (Granted, they had no idea what I’d been through, and how real of a fear that was for me). They simply saw how close I was to my parents, and how much family means to me, and assumed that I would never want to be more  than a few minutes’ drive from seeing my loved ones. And I’ll admit, being away from my family is absolutely the hardest part about living alone in this giant city.

But I am so grateful for my time out here. I’ve grown stronger, and I feel that my bond with my family is deeper because of my time away. I never want to take anything for granted, least of all them. I was blessed with an amazing job experience working with amazing coworkers on a great show–literally a dream come true. I could never have imagined everything I’ve been blessed with in the last year. I don’t know what I did to deserve everything that’s happened, but I am so happy that it has happened.

I don’t know what’s next. Now that the show that I’ve currently been working on is wrapping, I don’t know what the future holds. Perhaps this was the only show I was destined to work on. Perhaps I’ll have a job next week. I don’t know. But one thing I’m sure of, I can handle whatever comes next. And I’m excited to see what’s in store for my life, because I know, no matter what, I’ll make the most of it. And it’ll be fantastic.

-tlc

A Short PSA About How to Get My Job (AKA be a PA)

So today I got a friendly e-mail from a KU alum who had seen me post about what I’m doing/where I’m working now that I’ve graduated from KU and am living in Los Angeles. He sent me the same type of e-mail that I know I sent to a million and one people when I was reaching for the stars and entertaining the insane idea of moving out here to work in television. He asked for my advice on how to get from where he was to where I currently am. Now, I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t nearly as friendly in my advice-giving as the people who answered my inquiries when I first came out here. In my defense, I wasn’t in an optimistic mood, and I whole-heartedly believe in keepin’ it real (unless you’re keeping up appearances–idk wtf am I even saying? It’s a Friday, guys. I just want to go home and drink).

But I also believe in paying it forward, and if this is truly something that he wants to pursue, I want him to jump in head first, knowing exactly what he’s getting himself into (because, believe me, I totally relate, and I completely support pursuing your passions).

I also really just wanted an easy blog post for this week, and since I’d already spent a fair amount of time writing this gem of an email, I figured, why not share it with the rest of the very small world that reads this blog?

So, two birds with one stone. **DISCLAIMER** I am not, in any way, shape, or form, an expert in giving industry advice. If you want something a little more thorough, check out The Temp Diaries  or The Anonymous Production Assistant, which can give you a much better idea of what it’s like to work as a PA in this town.

If you want a laugh, though, please, read on. I was in a very sarcastic mood (edited for privacy purposes):

Hi Tasha!

I’ve been doing comedy in Chicago for a while, but my wife and I have been eyeing a move out west for a while. One of my shorter-term goals would be to land a writer’s PA position at a scripted TV show — so when I saw your post, I thought, “hey wait a second, that’s what I want to do!”
I’m sure you’re extremely busy, but if you have time to give a complete stranger some advice, I’d greatly appreciate it. What path did you take to get your current position? What sorts of things should I be doing to get there myself? And have you enjoyed the job and/or found it helpful advancing your career as a writer?
Thanks!
Okay, so here you go:
Hi,

Honestly, I hope I don’t sound like a complete asshole, because there isn’t a whole lot of advice I can give you. There isn’t really one specific way to get a job as a PA. Pretty much everyone I know (including myself) has gotten their job through the connections they make out here–so living in LA is probably the first step. But I’m sure there are lots of production jobs going on in Chicago as well, so trying to find some job listing groups on Facebook and get in with a production crowd as a freelance PA while you’re still in Chicago might also be a good way to go. I know lots of people who’ve been able to advance a lot faster because they knew/worked with people back in their home towns/other cities before moving out here. But basically, just getting out here and NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK.  (This is also miserable, because LA is expensive and even once you start landing PA positions they pay like shit. I’m making minimum wage and thank God I get fed at work or else I wouldn’t be able to pay rent.)
Besides the money factor and the difficulty in finding a job, I absolutely love what I do. I don’t know that it’s really advancing my career as a writer, but it’s been motivating and a great learning experience to meet the writers, sit in the writer’s room, and get their advice/feedback on writing. However, I should also specify that I work for an amazing crew of totally nice super awesome people. There are quite a lot of jerks in Hollywood, and I get spoiled where I’m at right now. So not every job is this great. I worked a reality show before this, and even though the people I was working for were super nice, I absolutely hated it. I drove an hour both ways just to get to work, and then did 12 hours straight on my feet without sitting down, with the only other time I was off my feet being when I took my mandatory 30 min unpaid lunch break. It sucked.
Keeping with the whole honesty thing–and here’s where I’m going to sound like the biggest asshole you’ve ever spoken with–being a Writer’s PA/Writer’s Assistant on a scripted show (or getting into scripted TV, period) is about the hardest job to get in Hollywood, and most people will tell you this. For one, it’s just difficult to break into the industry, period. For another, there is about triple the amount of reality TV programming to scripted television. I fell into the job I currently have because a friend of mine, who I studied abroad with my freshman year of college, had a friend who worked as a PA under my current producer, and somehow heard there was an opening on this show and so my friend forwarded my resume to her friend, who forwarded it to the Production Coordinator, who interviewed me and offered me the job two weeks later when the producer I work under found out I was a KU alum (he went to KU, too). So an insane amount of chance got me my job. It sucks, but hey, if you’re good at making friends and have a good work ethic, then you might stand a chance.
Another thing you should know–especially because I don’t know what your wife does for a living–is that jobs aren’t steady or consistent. I was extremely lucky to get work so quickly after finishing my two internships (I spent four months working full time for free out here before I started looking for paid work, and I got paid work insanely quickly). But even after working on a sitcom for five months, we are almost wrapped with production for our current season, and I’m not sure what’s happening next. Right now I’m looking at unemployment for at least the month of September, and crossing my fingers that something comes along before I burn through my savings or have to become a barista like my roommate, who gets up every morning before God is even awake.
Anyways. I hope that answers some of your questions. If you’re crazy enough to still want to move out here, let me know and when you and your wife get out here we’ll go get drinks in a super dive-y LA bar in Midcity before I show you the van where I live down by the river.
But seriously, I actually do know a guy who lives in a van. I wish it was down by the river but, you know, drought.
-Tasha
I really hope this guy e-mails me back. I think we stand a real chance of being great friends. Oh, also, he added me on Facebook, where I post links to my blog every week, so if you’re reading this right now, I’m sorry I didn’t ask your permission before posting this. I hope I left it anonymous enough for you. Being honest again, though, I have no shame. Your e-mail saved me something like two hours of extra brain power.
Until next week,
-tlc