Do What You Love (New Year, One Life)

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?

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 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.

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