Contemplating Careers (+ a Love Letter to my Friends)
“When you are in the final days of your life, what will you want? Will you hug that college degree in the walnut frame? Will you ask to be carried to the garage so you can sit in your car? Will you find comfort in rereading your financial statement? Of course not. What will matter then will be people. If relationships will matter most then, shouldn't they matter most now?”
- Max Lucado
Sometimes something comes into your life at just the right time. Something that gives you an answer that you weren’t even looking for. You watch a movie, read a book, see a photo, a place, or, in my case, a quote on Pinterest.
I’ve been having one of those mid-twenties-existential-life-crisis-things lately. Maybe just a minor one. Or the beginning of one. When things got rocky for the business I work for, I suddenly had to consider other job opportunities, which made me realize that I didn’t want to get another job in another bakery. When I think about my life path, I am not a cake decorator in my 30’s, 40’s, and beyond. I’m an Internet content creator. I’m a writer. I’m a filmmaker. I’m a producer. I’m traveling and meeting people in the entertainment industry. I’m not still getting up at 5am, wearing a hairnet all day, and working for someone else. So, I decided that if I was going to change jobs, it couldn’t be a lateral move. I had to move upwards and onwards. I had to look for jobs in media production. The problem with that is; I live in Ottawa. Not Toronto, Vancouver, or even Montreal. Ottawa is not exactly a hub of activity for the film industry. I’ve always known this and always planned to move to Vancouver eventually. However, when faced with this sudden need, not just want, for a job change, it all hit me at once. I’m 24. I’m still living in Ottawa, a city I chose only for its proximity to my parents and friends. I have no money saved. I am no closer to moving across the country than I was 4 years ago when I started working. My dreams are still daydreams. So, what am I going to do about it?
I’m a procrastinator. I get comfortable where I am and lose motivation. The problem is; I’m not unhappy. I like my job and my coworkers. I like my little apartment and the things in it. I like having two of my best friends living close enough to hang out often. I like visiting my parents on long weekends. But I don’t have a car. I live in a basement apartment. I hate the weather 5 months of year. I don’t have any money to travel. I don’t have any friends with similar interests (ie. Internet, video, movies).
So, I did what I’ve done several times before. I started Googling flight costs to visit my friend in Victoria, the cost of living in Vancouver vs. Ottawa, moving costs, jobs in Vancouver, etc. But even if I can save up the money for the move, and I finally get me and my stuff to the West Coast, get a job in media, meet lots of cool industry people, and have opportunities to travel there will be one big piece of a happy life missing. My friends. I’ve had the same best friends since I was 15. We’re family. We’re inseparable. They understand me and put up with me. We fight and make up. Sometimes I forget that we are not the same person. We are introverts that don’t meet a lot of new people or make new friends. Two of my besties I see regularly and another that I haven’t seen in years just moved back to Ontario from Alberta. I haven’t made any new friends since film school. What would I do in a brand new city without any friends? Ya, sure, I could make new friends with similar interests and we could create together. But, as much as I dream about the amazing experiences I would have working in media/film, traveling all over the world, I can’t imagine not seeing my friends' kids grow up. I can’t imagine not getting together with my girls regularly for game nights and good times. On the one hand, I can think that 24 is still young. I will have plenty of new friendships and relationships in my life. 50 years from now, I could be getting together with a new group of ladies for game night. But on this other hand is 10 years of friendship with girls who may not share my love of making videos or understand social media, but who have loved me for 10 years and will love me for 100 more. Girls who I hope I am still getting together with for game nights in 50 years.
And that was what made me realize that no amount of mild Winter weather, or proximity to the entertainment industry that I love so much, can replace how I feel when I see my friend at my door, when I see my friend play with her kids, when I see my friend with her fiancé, when I will see my friends get married, when I will be asked for Cool Aunt Tish advice, when I get to celebrate my friend’s birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, jobs, babies, lives with them. Nothing’s better than my friends. I’m better with my friends.
I’m not giving up my career dreams to stay in a city that I don’t like just so I don’t have to make new friends. I’ve had the dream of Vancouver in my mind since I was 12, when I used a video camera for the first time and knew that I wanted to be a filmmaker. That dream has stuck with me, but it’s also evolved. All these revelations have reminded me of my other incarnation of my dream; being able to work from anywhere. I’ve always known that I want to travel, and in recent years it’s becoming more and more clear that whatever I pursue creatively that it’s going to involve the Internet. Well, working on the Internet and traveling work well together because the Internet can travel with me. Yes, Vancouver is nice if you want to start as a PA and work your way up in the industry to be a camera assistant or other crew member. But that’s never been my dream. I’ve always been intent on carving my own path, and I’ve been slowly working away at it since I was a teenager.
So, I’ve got a new life plan. Enjoy your 20’s. Now is the time to be broke. Now is the time to spend all the time you can with your friends because, you think you’re grown-ups now, well, there are still more kids to be had, marriages to happen, jobs to be taken, moves to be made. But right now, you and your friends are here, so fucking enjoy it. You don’t need money or a new city to sit down with your laptop and write. Make videos. Share your work. Make a name for yourself. Maybe someday it will take you places. Or maybe you’ll have to take yourself places with the money you finally saved up from your day job and your Google Adsense. You’re only 24. You’ve got time for all that. But right now, you’ve got your laptop and your friends. So fucking enjoy it.