“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.”
This is, hands-down, my favorite graduation speech, and this remix gives me chills. I listen to it when I feel down, when I feel good, when I need a reason to smile, when I need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Try it out. I promise it won’t disappoint.
Most people turn on their TV, catch up with the latest episode of whatever show they’re watching, and go on about their life.
I don’t know how to do that.
I count down the days until my shows come back on the air. I play promos on a loop. I over-analyze over promotional pictures. I hyperventilate over plot twists. I swoon when characters get together. I marathon shows like my life depends on it.
When my favorite shows are at their best, it sets my heart on fire.
Great episodes leave me breathless and hyperventilating. Watching my favorite characters triumph or fail is a rollercoaster that sometimes feels more real than my actual life. My heart beats and breaks for them, over and over again.
The flip side of loving something this much, just like being in a real relationship, is that it can lift you up as much as it can hurt you.
I’ve sobbed over the death of my favorite fictional characters too many times to count. I’ve walked around with my heart heavy in my chest because a TV plot twist. I’ve mourned the end of a fictional relationship as if it were my own.
Like my hero and role model John Green would say, the characters may be fictional, but your feelings for them aren’t.
Sometimes I wish I could take a step back and dial down on my love for some shows. There comes a point when I’m so invested in the characters, storylines, and episodes that I get upset over insignificant details. Instead of enjoying the ride, I worry about every second of it.
The problem is, there no switch I can flip. No amount of logical reasoning will make me less invested. When I’m in, I’m in.
There have been many occasions when my love for a show didn’t end well. The writers screwed up the storylines, the actors left the show which led to their character’s death, or the network cancelled the show. As ridiculous as this may sound, I carry those wounds with me. Sometimes I wish I could forget about how heartbroken they make me feel.
Then I discover a new show, fall in love with its characters, and my fears disappear like they never existed in the first place.
In a way, it’s a bit of a vicious circle. Even if the show itself doesn’t disappoint, it will end at some point, and leave you gasping for air over how much you miss it. But in the face of falling in love with a new show and everything that comes with it, I can’t worry about the heartbreak that might wait for me down the line — all I can think is how exhilarating the ride will be.
If money were no object, what would you do? What would you really do?
Brooke Davis is one of my favorite female characters, period.
When I first saw her at the beginning of Season 1, I thought, ugh, she’s too peppy and shallow. Then the show slowly peeled back all the layers that made Brooke put on the peppy, shallow girl facade, and I fell in love. Brooke is strong, funny, hardworking, talented, motherly, brave, generous, beautiful. But she’s also scared, hurt, guarded, insecure and stubborn. She’s not just some one-dimensional character that only exists to carry out plot points. She’s real. And she’s incredible.
This is a video tribute to all those things.
Happy New Year everyone!
I hope 2013 brings you great, wonderful things — and loved ones to get you through the rest.
I thought a lot about what my first post of the year should be about. In the end, it didn’t feel like a choice so much as an evidence.
I’ll start with a question: when you think back to your school experience, from elementary school to college or grad school, what are your best memories? When you played hide and seek with your best friend during recess, or when you had to listen to your teacher tell you all about your country’s endless, complicated history? When you prepped for mid-terms freshman year, or when you blew off that boring economics class to take a road trip with someone you liked?
In short: when did you most feel alive?
I was one of those kids who enjoyed school. I liked learning, I liked structure, I was good at remembering things, and I always felt a sense of control when it came to school — something I didn’t feel in any other areas of my life.
That being said… the best memories of my long school career aren’t in the classroom. My best memories are the moments I shared with my classmates, my best friends, my group partners, my party buddies. The uncontrollable laughter in the library, the notes passed in class, the boring nights that turned into adventures. Those were the times when I was really living and seizing the moment. Those are the moments that set my heart on fire.
After my first work experience — a six-month internship in marketing — I realized something that has defined my life since: If I was going to spend my entire life working crazy hours to earn money, I wanted it to matter. I couldn’t just get through my 9 to 5. I refused to merely tolerate the projects I worked on.
I wanted more.
I remember sitting in my college’s gym halfway through my junior year, pedaling at a stationary bike like my life depended on it, and having a panic attack over what business concentration I was going to pick. None of them sounded right. Did I like studying business? Sure. Had I enjoyed my marketing internship? No. Did I think I could have a career in marketing or business and be remotely satisfied? No.
In the end, the answer to my questions was so obvious, I was a bit shocked at how I hadn’t seen it before. I loved TV. I grew watching TV shows. They taught me English. The reason I decided to study in the US was because I’d fallen in love with the country through its TV shows. I loved writing. I loved fictional characters. What the hell was I doing studying business?
Halfway through my college experience, I reoriented my career. I interned for a TV production company for six months. I wrote a couple scripts for their scripted teen news show, and my heart nearly burst from how good that felt. I would walk home in a daze, wondering how this feeling was real, and what I had to do to keep feeling like this my whole life.
I was alive.
I graduated with my business degree and went on to attend a film/TV grad school. I interned for production companies. I learned about storytelling. I interned for TV shows. I learned to write screenplays.
Two months after graduating, I got my first real job on a scripted TV show. This was the job I’d waited for my whole life.
Was it perfect? No. Was it hard sometimes? Yes. But was it worth it? Without a question. Was it everything I wanted? Yes. Would I do it all over again in a heartbeat? Yes. You know why? Because I was exactly where I belonged. And the craziest, most wonderful part was, this was a job. I got up every morning and drove to work and earned money, all the while fulfilling my wildest dream.
A while ago, someone asked me what my best memories of working on a show were. As I gave my answer, my heart filled with yearning, longing, love, and… I felt alive. I won’t list the memories here otherwise this post will never end. But just writing this puts a smile on my face.
I won’t lie and say it’s been easy. I was naive and hopeful when I decided to pursue a career in television. If I had known how hard it would be, I may not have gone through with it. But I’m so grateful I made that decision — probably the craziest I will ever make. Because in spite of the heartache and the rejection and the waiting, I’ve found my purpose. I’ve found my calling.
I’ve found a job that sets my heart on fire the way the best memories with my loved ones do. That is something precious and important and beautiful, and I am so lucky to have that in my life.
Yes, doing what you love is hard. It’ll force you to re-evaluate who are you countless times. It’ll make you question your worth and values. It’ll demand the best of your yourself. But it will also be worth every second of that. It’ll make you want more. It’ll make you reach for more.
Full disclosure: I am about to embark on a new adventure that involves a new country and starting over and no safety net. To say that it terrifies me is an understatement. But it’s a way to get to the life I want, to the job I want. It’s way to get back to feeling alive.
So if I had to give one piece advice for this new year, it would be this:
Do what you love.
In a culture that’s intent on depicting emotionally (or otherwise) abusive relationships as women’s salvation (Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey, Gossip Girl etc — I would list them all but we’d be here all night), nothing makes me happier than characters who stand up for themselves and refuse for love to be an excuse for abusive behavior (it should never be).
There are many reasons why I love Parenthood. It’s a show that never shies away from being real: from the storylines to the performances to their execution. It hits the hardest when it explores the crux of family love: your siblings/parents/children might exasperate you, drive you mad, be the kind of person you would never choose to be friends with, but you always find a way to mend fences with them because you love them unconditionally.
Amber is by far my favorite character on the show. It’s been a privilege to watch her grow from a rebellious, lost teenage girl to a confident young woman who isn’t afraid to go after what she wants. Her relationship with Iraq vet Ryan has been a joy to watch. For the first time, she was consciously entering a healthy adult relationship. She was letting herself be loved.
But for all the beauty of Amber and Ryan’s romance, their relationship isn’t without bumps. The war damaged Ryan, perhaps beyond repair, and that directly affects those closest to him. After Ryan abruptly quits the job she found for him, he disappears on her for several hours, wrecks her car, and eventually comes home to her drunk out of his mind. He yells at her, accuses her of trying to control him, and leaves Amber sobbing on a parking lot, her car wrecked, her heart broken.
The clip above shows Ryan apologizing to Amber about the way he treated her. He says he’ll do anything to make up for it. He wants her back in his life. But Amber decides his apology is not enough. Not because she doesn’t love him — really, he’s the first boy she ever really loved — but because forgiving Ryan and accepting him in her life again means accepting the way he treated her. It means accepting the possibly he might make her feel the same way again — betrayed, guilty, powerless, scared.
It’s such a powerful moment for Amber. She has the wisdom to see beyond her love for Ryan. And maybe Ryan and Amber will find their way back to each other eventually. But this is about her. This is about the kind of life she wants to lead. This is about the kind of woman she wants to be. And she’s better than this.
So here’s to strong, powerful, independent young women like Amber Braverman.
Some words of advice for artists by Neil Gaiman.
“Nobody gets to be you, except you.”