How certain are you that the career path you’re working towards is one that will make you happy? When I worked at film studios after college, the question I asked myself was: “Would I want the job my boss or VP of the department has?” For me, that answer was always no. That’s one of the ways I realized I needed to find a way to write full-time or just find something that would make me feel at least somewhat fulfilled. This basically led to my decision to go to graduate school.
But now, I find myself again unsure if what I’m working so desperately towards (writing for movies and TV) is what will make me happy. Because continuing on, I’d most likely have to live in LA for at least five more years, and I don’t love it here, in fact, at points I think it makes me downright unhappy. Also, from what I’ve seen about how television shows and movies get made, all of the requisite bullshit might drive me to an early grave, or at least to indulge in an unhealthy amount of gin and tonics.
I keep asking myself, why do I find myself so unhappy this quarter at school? What I once found incredible joy and release in (writing) brings me great anxiety now. I’ve been told it’s because I’m in a very competitive program where we’re constantly talking about writing and the industry, and that that environment is not conductive to writing.
I don’t have a definitive answer. Friends tell me to soul-search. But how does one soul search to get to the answer? Should I take a long weekend of meditation or a solo hike down the Pacific Coast Trail like Cheryl Strayed in Wild? I’m a bit of a weenie when it comes to camping, and too antsy to do a weekend of meditation. So I think for me, the answer is closest to this lovely piece of advice from the poet Rilke, who has always been a personal favorite writer of mine:
“…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
Maybe you just have to keep going, making teeny-tiny course corrections every day. Because course-correcting allows for growth. It’s also a really important life skill to master.
So the question I leave you with is this: Are you sure where you want to go is worth it? This is an important question to ask, and if you’ve been chugging ahead towards a specific goal for a long time, you may neglect even re-evaluating this question, thinking to yourself like I did, “Of course this is what I want, I’ve wanted this for so long.”
But you’re not who you were five years ago, even last week. So maybe it’s worth another look.