I paused to check out my reflection as I approached the glass door, and I have to admit I looked good. Nice shoes, tailored pants, trendy yet professional shirt, laptop bag slung over my left shoulder. There I was, the consummate young professional. My next thought, however, stopped me dead in my tracks: When was that ever what I wanted to be?
I had no shortage of dreams as a child, none of them revolving around anything having to do with a briefcase or business attire. The original plan was NFL quarterback, but even before growing into my slender 5-foot-9-inch frame, I realized it was wise to start exploring other career options. Astronaut, doctor and ESPN analyst all spent time on the list but eventually gave way to architect—the perfect blending of my creative yet logical mind. Soon, however, the viewing of a little film called Toy Story would forever change the way I thought of the world. Film and digital media became my new passion, and although I did graduate with my degree in architecture, I have yet to work a job in the field; my positions have all involved designing for either print or interactive mediums.
This is actually the first "normal" job I’ve worked in years (much to the joy of friends who have supported my caffeine addiction in times past). I’ve paid my bills (most of them anyway) as a freelance designer the last several years; prior to that were stints at a few small design houses and a horribly failed design firm venture of my own. The problem is that film refuses to leave me alone.
I now have a comfortable corporate marketing position with a regular paycheck, but no matter what I do during the day, this need to write and explore how to visually tell compelling stories is constantly in the back of my mind. Yet here I am playing the typical young urban professional, wearing non-denim pants and closed-toe shoes to work and using a sterile email address that consists of my first initial and last name.
I should feel comfortable and secure and happy, and I do to an extent. But overriding that feeling is the intuition that God didn’t design me for this, that I’m just not made this way. I don’t hate what I do. I actually enjoy my job, but I want more—I want "the joys of my heart" that David talks about in Psalms. The couch really is comfortable at the end of a long day though, and sitting down to a microwaved meal and reality TV is certainly less challenging than working on one of my screenplay ideas. Besides, there’s no worry of "making it" when my biggest concern is which Average Joe won’t make tonight’s cut.
I can only fight off complacency for so long though, and the more I try not to do anything, the more I know I can’t. I feel alive when I’m writing, and anyone who knows me knows how passionate I get when I talk about films and stories and characters. Something about that drives me like nothing else does. I can’t even comprehend the idea that there’s any way I could make a living at something I truly deeply love, and I think that’s why I’m so scared.
What if I never make it? What if all I have are stories of what I tried, things that didn’t work? What if I write dozens of screenplays and shoot dozens of short films and nothing ever gets noticed, that studio call never comes? I’ve decided I’d prefer that to never having tried. I have these dreams for a reason. God has blessed me with a unique way of looking at things, and I know deep inside that I’m not doing all I’m intended for by just sitting behind my desk at work.
I may fail. If the numbers of unsuccessful submissions to studios are any indication, I will. Whatever happens, I’ll be pursuing something I’m passionate about, and if God’s plan for me is what I hope it is, I just might make it.
If anyone’s looking for me, I’ll be out on the balcony. Writing. With my shoes off.[Chris Figat is a graphic designer and an aspiring writer/filmmaker in Houston, Texas, where he still has a shred of hope that an NFL team may one day need an undersized yet mobile quarterback with a below-average arm. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
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