I spoke at Career Day last week. This is what I told the kiddos:
Life is a Soap Opera. I recently heard someone describe your 20s as a series of crossroads. It’s very true. Crossroads. Being broke. That’s your 20s. And today I’ll describe mine. I want to share with you my failures. My lessons. My decisions. My rejections and redirection.
I’ve learned it’s good to confess. I never thought I’d be saying: THESE ARE MY CONFESSIONS. And I can only hear myself say it in Usher’s singing voice. My confessions are truths about me that my family and friends don’t know about.
I wasn’t the kid who always knew what they wanted to be when they grow up. I know I’m still growing up. I’m sure I’m not going to be one thing. I know I am working toward being more. And I know I am able to NOW identify what I want to be:
Fundraiser. Librarian. Writer.
In what order? Should there be an order? Should I just allow the order to come to light? Would a career in each be satisfying? Which one would pay the bills? What about my mental health? What about my quality of life?
I never wanted to leave academia. I loved being in college. I didn’t love the price of a higher education. But I loved learning. I still do. Critical Film Studies shaped me into a stronger person. Exploring representation made me a smarter person. But I knew I wasn’t ready for Hollywood.
I applied to grad school before graduating from undergrad. I wanted to be the first in my family to get a PhD. I wanted that broke-ass life. It wasn’t about making a high salary. It was about making a difference. I didn’t want to stop learning. It was about continuing to find peace in understanding systemic injustices and learning my role in dismantling them. That sort of satisfaction in feeling pulling back the curtain and meeting the wizard.
CONFESSION: I didn’t get in. So, I joined my own version of the Peace Corps. It was constant spiritual warfare. Outdoor education, yes! Giving back to the community that raised me, yes! Living and working with conservative Republicans, nope. But, I swore I wasn’t done. I would find a way to continue working with the community and marginalized people.
Then I choose, love. Miami was all for love. I moved to Miami, FL. I jumped around from being a Bank Teller, Receptionist and Administrative Assistant.
CONFESSION: I turned down a part time job as a Librarian Assistant at Miami Dade college. It was exactly what I wanted. But it meant working on Saturday mornings and night shifts. It meant juggling two part time jobs. Negotiating shifts with coworkers. It meant driving more in Miami. And I was already terrified of the little driving I was doing. Just the thought about the anxiety. I took a different path. I choose a better quality of life.
Spain was a priceless experience. I saw more of the world, than I ever thought I would see. I vlogged. I travelled. I ate. And drank. And lisped my words. Too many words. I also felt like I choose someone other than me, again.
CONFESSION: During my time in Spain, I applied to Masters program of Library and Information Science. I was wait-listed. Rejection is redirection.
Once back in the States, I continued to learn many lessons in the workplace. The first couple of years were most difficult doing administrative work in a field I had no interest in.
CONFESSION: I got an interview at Fox Studios for a coordinator position in Standards & Practices. This is it, I thought. My chance to get into Hollywood. And I didn’t. I didn’t get the job. I was so discouraged, I continued to work that miserable job for about another year. Back into my shell.
I finally had enough and I quit. I reached out to a temp agency. I met with them. They were very clear. You don’t have studio experience. You’ll never be asked to work at a studio.
Well, someone was desperate. I got a call on Wednesday afternoon at 3pm to work at 9pm on Thursday. I said YES.
The next couple of years at Fox Studios was learning experience. Was I in the industry, yes. Was I working in an environment I didn’t see myself in long term, yes. The darkest days brought me to taking a calculated risk: another leap of faith. It felt like my first leap of faith. I had forgotten. It felt like the biggest risk of my entire life. I left Fox Studios.
A true crossroads: to begin at the bottom as a struggling writer with that unpredictable freelance life? a new career in Fundraising while I write my heart out? Or would I be leaving my love of film and television behind for good? I had given it a shot. Hollywood chewed me up and spit me out.
I took an interview at back at Fox, but with a department I had never heard of. It was for a job I had forgotten, I had applied for. Always take the interview. It’s an opportunity to meet someone new. It’s an opportunity to practice the interview process and questions. It’s an opportunity to interview your future employer.
And I quickly fell in love. They charmed me. Their vulnerability to share they are in desperate need of help. Their humor. Their honesty. Their willingness to take a chance on me? But was it right? Was it too good to be true?
That, I’m figuring out.