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

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

What You Need To Hear About Fuck-Ups

First may I say, pardon the language, but “mistake” seemed too small, and “disaster” was just dramatic. No, indeed “Fuck-Up” is truly the only way to describe the day at work I’m going to tell you about.

First, have I mentioned that I love my job and the people I work with? I work with the most amazingly professional, kind-hearted, and understanding people. I will truly be sorry when this season ends and everyone starts going their separate ways. In some ways, though, (as I know I’ve said before) that makes it so much worse when I do mess up, because it means I’m disappointing people and causing headaches/frustration at a job that I actually care about. Does that sound terrible? I mean, I’m not a careless person even if I hate the job I’m doing, but it’s just worse when I don’t hate it.

On to my actual story/point.

This week I had the worse day at work I’ve ever had since starting this job, and it was entirely, wholly, completely my fault. It wasn’t a HUGE fuck-up, but a fuck-up none-the-less.

Sidenote: Have you ever had those days where you make one mistake, and then it somehow snowballs into something increasingly terrible until you start to wonder if maybe you’re really Truman and suddenly you’re paranoid that everything around you is somehow a camera that’s recording your every movement? Only me? Okay.

You’re probably really curious to know what this fuck-up was, now that I’ve built it up into this terribly dramatic thing. You ready? Here it is: It somehow escaped my notice that we were down to less than a full box of white, 3-hole punch, copy paper. Anticlimactic?  Maybe for you, but I’ll have you know I print scripts for a living. And I’m not the only one. There’s about fifteen people in our office that could need to print scripts at any moment, meaning the need for 3-hole punch copy paper and lots of it is very, very real.

As the resident person who prints scripts for a living in the office, part of my job is to let the resident office supply orderer (don’t you love our occupational titles?) know when we are low on printer paper. So imagine my regret when I came to work one day this week and discovered that not only were we extremely low on 3-hole punch paper, but that we were almost out on a script printing night. Not just any script-printing night. Shooting script night. The night I have to print twice as many scripts as any other night. Queue Hans Zimmer: *The Fuck-Up begins.*

Since I was the one who somehow missed how incredibly low on paper we were, naturally, I was the one who made the run to Staples to buy some more paper to hold us over until our paper order was due in the next day. I went for two boxes of reams, but Staples was entirely out of boxes of reams. Thank God they still had individual packages of reams, but did you know that a single ream of paper is something like three times the price it would be still in the box? Ridiculous. So I wound up walking away from Staples with about half of the amount of paper I came for, for about twice the price. *The Fuck-Up Continues.*

Things for most of the rest of the day went okay, but I could tell that my Fuck-Up was an added frustration and distraction on top of an already-stressful day. Still, I thought things were starting to calm down and that I might have a peaceful evening of trying to forget about my stupidity, until we got word at the very end of the day that the production schedule was changing, including the episode that we would be shooting for the next week, which meant that a new batch of Table Draft scripts would need to be printed.

On the one day that we were scraping for script paper. FML

At this point I was so fed up with the day that life had thrown me I couldn’t even process sentences that people were saying to me correctly. I must have offered about a dozen times to come in early the next morning to print scripts, to a continuous and unanimous “no” from my bosses because I wouldn’t have a long enough turnover. However, when they kept telling me it was because I was expecting a late night waiting for the current shooting script to be finalized, I–for some reason I can’t even explain other than that at that point my brain had just given up for the day–thought they meant that I would be having a long day the next day (a non-printing day and typically my early night). Just the fail on top the Fuck-Up cake, I suppose.

But why am I telling you all of this? Is it because I want your pity? Your sympathy? Is it because I like being a potty-mouth on the internet where everything is forever? Heaven’s sake, no. I’m telling you all of this because there is something that I think every twenty-something needs to hear about Fuck-Ups that I just learned from this very-first fuck-up at my very-first real, I-care-about-this job. What I think you need to hear is this:

Fucking-Up is nothing if you put your big kid pants on, patch-up the problem as best you can, and move on. Feeling sorry for yourself, disrupting work flow, and/or not learning from your mistakes and making changes to ensure they don’t happen again are the real fuck-ups.

When I came into work and found out the situation, I accepted responsibility right away. I didn’t try to argue, I didn’t blame someone else, I didn’t make an excuse as to why it happened. I made note of the issue and the immediate solution (running to Staples for more paper) and recognized that the best thing I could do was to make sure that I didn’t cause anymore disruption to the workflow, and to make sure that things continued as smoothly as possible despite my fuck-up. I did my best to make myself as available and helpful as possible to ease any frustration my fuck-up caused. I made sure the morning PAs knew how to print the Table Draft scripts properly, I printed the shooting draft scripts, prepped the paper as best I could for the morning print, and went home. The next day, I left any mopey, sorry-for-myself feelings at home, and came in to work with a bright attitude. I made sure I had a solution to prevent making the same fuck-up twice, and I did my best to be on-top of things and as helpful as possible.

And you know what? It was a good day.

Fuck-ups happen. Deal with it, learn from it, and move on.

Here’s to hoping that it never, ever happens again, though.

-tlc

 

 

On Missing Home

When your family makes up about 90% of your best friends, it’s hard to move away from them. Even now, eight months later, it’s still hard not to have the option of seeing my family regularly. The only time I am ever envious of my friends who don’t have close relationships with their parents and siblings is when I’m feeling homesick–so, about once a month.

Missing home can make for a confusing time emotionally. Consider this: while I love the wide-open spaces and quiet calm of the prairie, and the sweet peace that comes from the small, mannerly Kansas population, I hate everything about the way the Kansas government is being run right now, and I hate the often overly-conservative, small-minded opinions that the majority of the voter population holds. While I would love more than anything to be able to plan a day trip home on the occasional weekend to see my parents, or to be a short car ride away from babysitting my nephew, my work life and social life would be stunted. Sure, I could find a copywriting job somewhere. I could find a copywriting job anywhere, truthfully. But would it be driving me towards a fulfilling career in an industry that interests me? No. Would I be making new friends and growing my social circles? Probably not. Kansas City isn’t a very sociable city for singles and people who don’t already have friends and relatives living there. Why? Because you have to drive so far to get anywhere, so you only go out in groups.

I’ve thought a lot about my choice to move to a new, big city where I don’t know anyone, and the truth of the matter comes down to this: there is only one question you ever need to ask yourself; “Am I happy?”

This is so simple, and yet I think you will find–as I do–that it is the hardest question you will ever have to answer in your life. Am I happy? Well, about what? Your life? Your relationships? Your career?

So here is what’s at the heart of the matter when it comes to me missing home: I’m not sure how to answer this question. Am I happy? Well sure, somedays I’m really happy, and I love LA, and it’s exciting, and I’m excited, and there’s so much to explore, and life is good and life is beautiful. Am I happy? Well I’m not exactly where I want to be in life yet, and I don’t have a place I can call my own yet, and I have to live on a pretty tight budget which makes it feel  like I’m always working or number crunching, and my family lives pretty far away in a different time zone and my work commitments mean I don’t have a lot of options for visiting them or them visiting me, but am I happy? I guess in a sense I’m mildly comatose.

I love Amy Poehler’s comparison of a career to a bad boyfriend. It’s so true; my career is never going to make me happy; it’s never going to completely satisfy me. I’m always going to feel like I’m somewhat running in place, reaching for the next thing and never getting there. But do I feel accomplished? Oh heck yes. Am I proud of where I’ve gotten so far? Beyond belief. I’m working on a freaking studio lot as a Writer’s PA. When I think about where I am in terms of what I’ve dreamed my whole life, I am immensely proud to say that so far, when I’ve set my mind to do something, I’ve accomplished it.

But in the end, what my eight months in LA has shown me so far is that family and your relationships will always be more important than any job, no matter what. In the end, it’s made me realize that if it’s the difference between getting to see and spend time with the people I love, and having a lucrative career in television, my family is more important. Right now I feel as though I am straddling somewhere between these two things–family and career, and I’m not sure which life is going to pull me towards more. But I do know that if it takes me away from my family too much, and prevents me from building new relationships with more people, than it’s not worth it. You should never pick your career over your family. I think my greatest personal challenge right now is finding the balance between the two, hence the homesickness.

-tlc