My entire life people have told me I am different. I’m special. I’m creative. I will be somebody.
While it’s always made me feel proud and optimistic, I think it’s given me every excuse to rest on my laurels and wait for it all to happen. When I was a teenager I wrote songs and people seemed to be in awe of this simple gift of expression. Imagining myself with a record deal, standing on a stage before thousands of adoring fans, money falling out of the sky I let myself slide into my mid-twenties (seemingly the terminus of rockstardom). Around that time my skills started to wane. I never got as good at guitar as my peers, my ability to create catchy melodies dried up, family and work responsibilities replaced the free time I needed to get baked and jam with myself. But moreover, my previous accomplishments seemed to trump what I was currently producing which led to trepidation regarding every note I played. “I’m not as good as I used to be” would be my paralyzing mantra. The thousands of adoring fans became a billion possible critics of the crap I wiped onto tape.
About six years ago I parlayed the skills I developed editing audio into editing video. This was my calling all-of-the-sudden– Visual Storytelling. I got really into movies, sucking up as many as I could and trying to apply the techniques I gleaned to making my own. I was alright at shooting, after all, I did spend two semesters in high school photography. But where I thought I really excelled was in storyboarding and telling the story through the edit. The former was such a wonderful adventure because I was able to use my imagination– free from a camera and crew to compose the visual story, the latter because it was a more pragmatic and concrete method of painting the stages in an imaginary event. Movie-making stardom was only a few years away, I was sure.
Climbing the ladder
Naturally, I found a way to do what I liked doing and make money. Sticking to what I knew was my calling and eventually becoming extremely well-know for it was the way to go. No more sitting around waiting for David Geffin to get my demo tape from a friend of a friend. I was taking my destiny in my own hands. My cheap, little online movies landed me cheap, little job after cheap, little job. The work was simple, yet heartbreakingly embarrassing. Tribute slide-shows for bat mitzvahs, corporate pieces for manufacturers of TiO2 and something known as ‘ERP’ (the client never filled me in on what the hell that is) haven’t gotten me very far to-date.
Still feeling like I should be part of an incredible team making incredible work, I’m frustrated by the fact that nearly everyone I work with has less talent, vision and responsibility to the end-product than I do. Everyday is a challenge, and not the kind of challenge you’d face with self-dignity and the desire to overcome. It’s the kind of challenge where people who work in cubes all day tell you how to work your skill. The kind of challenge where non-designers force you to make design decisions you know are wrong, where the computer-illiterate use you as a mouse and keyboard– executing their bastard whim upon the project. Working with bottom-feeders for so long has convinced me that that’s how I will be someone. This is how I shine. My abilities are so far and above the people who surround me that I practically am a rock star.
This isn’t about feeling like I should be something and complaining that I’m not, it’s about how I’m going to manage to get through the rest of my life. I don’t want to work. I barely manage to drag myself into the office everyday only to polish more turds. If I’m going to make it to 70 or 80, I’m really going to have to hit it big in the lottery or a workman’s comp claim because my talent and my stick-to-it-ness certainly aren’t going to carry me into retirement. Maybe that’s why I smoke cigarettes. Maybe it’s better to get life out of the way than to suffer through it for the typical life-span.