I Was Wrong About My Career Path

It has been a few weeks and naturally, it’s Wednesday, so I am mustering up just enough little travel-sized fucks to give in order to write something arbitrary. As much as I’d love to write something heartfelt about my triumphs and tribulations in 2016, I know for a fact that none of you want to read that. How do I know? Because literally every time I see one of those manifestos on my Facebook feed and I have the option to click “See More” I click it just to see how unbearably long it REALLY could be, then when I’m met with the wall of text that follows I start inevitably hating the person who wrote it. I don’t need to read any of it, I just hate you for sitting down writing it out and thinking that it’s important or relevant to another human being that you got super “woke” in 2016 and then you also went apple picking with your grandma for the last time before she died. 

My only valuable information to bestow upon the minute demographic who consistently reads this blog is that 2016 was the year I finally admitted I was wrong about a lot of things. (Everyone loves to read about another person’s failure, right?) In fact, I was so wrong that I lost sight of who I was and fell into what some wonderful people in my life will refer to as “a downward spiral.” Call it what you want, it wasn’t fun and if I can help you avoid it by writing this post you’ll thank me later. Or maybe you won’t because you’ll never have to find out what happens when you eat too much of your friend’s edibles in Vegas.

I tell people all the time that I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was around 7 years old. That sounds absurd because let’s be honest, can seven year olds even write coherently? (No they cannot) I actually kept some of my embarrassing kitten covered “cat-lady-in-the-making” journals from first grade so that I can go back and read them. Granted, most of it looks and sounds like something I’d write while blackout drunk in current times. (AKA talking about my cat’s fluffy tail and being really really mean to boys I have a crush on.) I still remember my second grade teacher Mrs. Schwebach pulling me aside in class, intensely staring at me (a la Billy Madison) and telling me that I should never stop writing. She didn’t have to tell me that, I knew I never would.

When you love something so much and derive so much pleasure from it, you want to make it your career. I landed on writing for television because the stars aligned and my dream school (Boston University) offered a highly competitive program. Given my unhealthy obsession with Family Guy from age 12 onward I felt like it was a no-brainer. Writing for animated comedy, bam. Done deal.

I moved out to LA right after I graduated and busted my ass to try to get into a writers room. I got so close I could taste it on so many occasions but if it came down to me and one other person it would somehow always end up being the other person. It was hard not to take all of the rejection personally and keep putting myself out there through the highly uncomfortable interview process. But I did, and I desperately settled for job after job in the unscripted world. For those not in Entertainment, that means Reality TV. Yeah, I know, I shudder at the thought as well. 

I’d go to lectures and hear people I admire discuss what it took for them to succeed. Everyone’s path was different and so much of the journey depended on luck, chance and sacrifice. For many writers their work was their life, and that life was filled with uncertainty and emotional volatility. I identified with these people and I saw so many similarities in our personalities, I wanted so badly to be them. I remember sitting at a panel where Dan Harmon spoke and I drooled over every single word he said. He is still my idol and someone whose career I dreamed of replicating. 

I’m not sure when the doubt first started creeping in, but when it did I desperately tried to suppress it. I never doubted whether or not I was capable of handling the pressure, workload, and dedication it would take if I did get my chance. I just started to doubt if it was really what I wanted.

Over the course of my multiple job changes, I formed a mental list of what I wanted in my ideal job. The list formed as follows:

  • A degree of work/life balance
  • Stability
  • Livable income
  • At a large company with protection for employees
  • Potential for upward mobility
  • Identifiable and healthy culture (not necessarily healthy-living based, but one I can get behind)
  • Respectful bosses and coworkers

This list seems a bit basic, and when I shared it with some friends from home they actually laughed at me.

Well if you’re in the Entertainment Industry you might find yourself reading the list and unable to check off a single one of those items. I know I have worked at multiple companies where none of those things were present. It’s easy to fall into jobs like that because they have a high turnover rate because, shocker: no one wants them.

Bottom line, I wanted to stop hating my job. I wanted to feel like there were opportunities for me that weren’t based on luck. I wanted to stop leaving the office counting down the days until I could finally get the job I wanted. I wanted to find a job where I could actually push myself and challenge myself until I earned the next job in line. While this is entirely possible in Entertainment, it wasn’t lining up for me and the companies I landed at.

It’s still too soon for me to say whether my new career path will work out, but I feel immensely better every day when I come into this office. I feel like I have a shot, and like I can work my ass off and feel good about what I produce. I look around and see people who are happy to be here and who are talented at what they do. I am part of a culture that makes me feel proud, rather than ashamed.

It was hard as hell admitting that I was wrong. But when I finally accepted it and moved forward, some other major things fell into place. (I finally figured out how to carve my own Costco rotisserie chicken without help!) 2016 was a piece of shit year for a lot of reasons, and who’s to say 2017 won’t also blow up massively in my face? As dumb as it sounds, I find that I have a renewed purpose in my life. I am motivated more than I ever have been before. I am beginning to feel like MAYBE, just maybe, I can sort my shit out.

So if you’ve read this far, all I’m saying to you is not to be too proud to admit when you’re wrong. Especially when the desire to be “right” is making you miserable. It’s not worth it. You deserve to be happy, you deserve to feel fulfilled. It’s easy to get comfortable in something you know isn’t right for you because it’s… easy. You’re really fucking good at something and the right company will offer you a chance to prove that to them. Go find that company.

As for writing… I’ll never stop writing. Duh, I have this stupid website. Also, there are a million different jobs that need good writers. I’ll land on my feet, probably. And if I don’t, I’ll sell my soul to Donald Trump.

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