BreakingModern — As someone heading to college this August with the intent of receiving a degree in visual media arts, there’s one conversation I find myself having on a more than daily basis with people I hardly know. Here’s how it generally goes:
“What are you going to do in the fall?” they’ll ask.
“I’ll be attending Emerson College in Boston,” I reply.
Whether they’ve heard of Emerson College or not, they’ll say, “Oh, Emerson! What are you going to be majoring in?”
And I’ll say, “film and television.”
Then comes the awkward pause. Usually people will squirm a little bit during this pause. If they recover quickly, they’ll say something like, “Cool! Well, good luck with that!”
But mostly, they just stammer for a bit and then ask: “Uh, what are you going to do with that?” Or they’ll simply ask: “Why?”
I imagine this conversation is familiar to anyone persuing a creative profession (be it acting, writing, directing, dancing, photography or whatever). I’m not one of those people that think art doesn’t get enough credit in society. Even if it’s not always conscious, people are constantly commenting on and acknowledging art. Their reaction actually has little to do with art or creativity in itself.
If you’re a fellow creative type, let me, someone who’s probably younger, less experienced and less knowledgeable about the arts than you are, dole out some unsolicited advice.
First, during the aforementioned conversation regarding your future, ignore the pause as they try to figure out how to respond to your declared choices. The pause (usually) isn’t the other person judging you for your aspirations or looking down on you. They’re just surprised. Most people don’t go into anything creative, so their reactions are bound to be slightly off.
Second, if people do judge you for your aspirations, politely finish the conversation and then proceed to never speak to them again. If you want, you could always lie and say you’re going into accounting. I don’t encourage this. But hey, it’s on you.
But what if you’re the other one? What if you’re the one who pauses, the one who finds it strange that anyone would try to break into such risky creative fields? In that case, I have just one unwanted idea to throw at you. It’s important for you to know that we, the people going to film school or getting degrees in philosophy, cannot imagine doing anything else with our lives.
I’ve always known I need to tell stories for a living. If I could choose to do something else, I likely would. There’s a compulsion, though, that drives myself and others to not be able to even consider the idea of having something that remotely resembles a fallback career. It’s simply not an option.
Most importantly (and this applies to everyone): It’s inherently necessary that we all support each other’s choices — assuming nobody’s being hurt in the process, of course. Someone is not automatically less interesting because they work in human resources and someone is not automatically more interesting because they’re a poet. Each and every human being is full of unique intricacies, and reducing anyone to their vocation is a massive mistake. So chill out, man. Relax and do your own thing. In conclusion: mind your own business. I’m trying to write a screenplay over here.
Featured Image Credit: Old books. Wikimedia Commons
All Screenshots: Jordan Wold