Long time reader of your column and I've benefited from a lot of the insights found in your work. So, thank you for all that you do for people around the world!
To start off with, I am a college student. I take full-time classes, work an on-campus job, run an exec position of a club, and participate in two other clubs. After that, I have all of my friends and personal projects. You can already see that I keep myself very busy and run on very little sleep.
But my sleeping pattern isn't what I chose to write to you about. I give so much of myself to everything I do, I've never been known to do anything half-way. The reason is that I love everything that I do, and I have yet to find anything that I haven't found interest in or excelled at naturally.
Want an actor, artist, digital designer, costumer, film editor, special effect artist? I'm you're guy. Need a handyman, carpenter, cement layer, minor electrician? I'm also that guy.
I love the critical thinking of mathematics, the mystery of chemistry, the factoids and reasoning behind historical events, and the endless storytelling possibilities of writing. That was long-winded, but I truly do so much and I'm always hearing from family:
"Oh! But you have so much potential." "You're too smart to be in theatre." "You have such a mind for math." And the endless, "You should do" this and "you should do" that.
Currently I'm studying to become a theatre costume tech major, and a dance and Japanese double minor. I made my mind up about that a long time ago. But hearing my family criticize that, or even all the sour looks when I mention going into theatre, really makes me feel hollow about my one solid decision.
I take it well. I explain all that I know: that the job field for a technician has a lot less competition than acting. That "one can always find a job as a technician," as I have heard many times from my friends and coworkers.
I guess my real issue isn't in coping with my family, or how to communicate with them about MY decision. The issue is how to cope with potential. If life is full of possibilities, and everyone is to find their niche in life, what happens to the people that could fit anywhere? I could do anything and be anything and be happy. But I would be missing out on everything else to dedicate my life to just a few of the things I care about.
This must sound like a weird problem to have. I'm sorry if this is confusing. I have always lived my life without restricting myself by saying "I can't do something." Instead, I always found something I liked about what I was doing and found drive in that.
My family means well, but all of the constant what-ifs that come from looking into other paths just bring me down. How should I go about reconciling with my family? And settling this gnawing feeling in my gut about everything I might miss out on in life?
I know I'm still young. But I thought I would ask your opinion on the matter.
Rillee Satranack (North Carolina, age 20)
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The first thing to get out of the way is your concern about your family's opinion. I don't have to tell you that this is your life and your career, so the choice that matters is yours, not theirs. If they are a good family (and I'm sure they are) they aren't going to hate you because you choose some job they don't agree with. Agreed? So put that out of your head right now.
With that aside, you're left with the issue of what to do when you have a dozen interests and enjoy them all? Looking at your list of avocations, I can't help but think that, yeah, all of them pertain to the movie industry. I mean, seriously: storytelling is obvious, and so are costumer, film editor, acting, special effects....
But the other stuff all can pertain to moviemaking, as well. Carpentry, cement laying, electrician work are all relevant to set design. Chemistry is relevant to special effects (mathematics, as well). History is relevant to good storytelling.
I'm not sure what a "theatre costume tech major" is, but I would suggest you study moviemaking. You don't say what university you go to, but according to this article, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts ranks fourteenth among the best U.S. schools to major in film studies.
I'd suggest changing majors to film studies and go for it. You sound like a natural, and you could combine all your interests into one!
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