Oh For Crying Out Loud. Just Ask Already!
I've written and rewritten this post since the beginning of February when I started blogging. I had several lofty intentions for this post, but it never really took shape until this week. Let's start with a little back story, shall we?
Circa 1990-something, this was me.
Many times in my young years, I was called precocious. Being I didn't have a clue what that meant, I'd ask. I'd ask why, how, what does that mean constantly; I'm sure my mom can attest to this. I spent so much time at the library (only reading non fiction books mind you), learning, exploring. Curiosity ruled my childhood and it followed me into college.
Jump forward a decade or so, this was me (this is actually taken on set of the very first film I directed).
That same precocious girl entered college, dyed her hair black, and fell in love with film. That same natural curiosity lent itself to my film career. I shot somewhere in the ballpark of 40 films throughout film school, both personal and class projects. I'd ask to just help on set, to intern, to wrangle cords anything for the experience.
Ask, that was the key. I was so voracious in my passion for film, my drive wouldn't let me not ask. Let me tell you, that led to some pretty amazing adventures:
Fearlessly, applying and getting into a very small film program in L.A. and ending up directing one of the big film for the year;
Assisting on multiple shoots while in L.A. and interning for the L.A. Film Festival/Independent Spirit Awards.
Coming back to the midwest after my program and directing our senior capstone film.
Entering my short in the Cannes International Film Festival, getting in, and taking home 1st Place in the filmmaking competition I entered while there.
Opportunities were around every door and without hesitation I would knock. Soon after the above photo was taken, I started my first "adult" job. I worked for a production company. On the surface, it was the dream job. All the hard work I put in, all the hours studying, I thought it all led to this job. I couldn't have been more wrong.
This job broke my spirit. I began to doubt myself, my intelligence, everything. I felt stupid for asking questions, trying to learn my job, so much so that I just quit asking all together. All my get up and go, got up and left. My mom can attest to all the crying phone calls she used to get on my lunch breaks about how I never wanted anything to do with film again. It wasn't long until I tucked my tail and headed home totally and utterly ashamed.
This doubt cloud hung over my head through my subsequent jobs. I lived in an consistent blur of anxiety and never really reaching my full potential. I really didn't even touch my camera again until creating a wedding video for the first time again in 2016. Having that creative contact again kindled what little spark I had left into a small flame.
Fast forward nearly another decade and this is me now.
Now, this is not some duckling/swan scenario. It's still a constant struggle with adequacy, fear, and doubt, but that small flame is growing. Over the past years, I've been stoking it carefully, working very reactively. It wasn't until this time last year that I quit my job at the time to chase down this passion again.
One of my intentions this year was to do things that scare me. I cannot tell you how frightening it is for me just to ask. To ask for that raise, to ask for a contact, to ask for help. Part of that experience with my first job still sticks with me, and I'm sure part of it always will tag along. My challenge is pushing past it.
I don't know what it is about Spring, but that drive has started to reawaken. In this month alone, I've asked for a raise, pitched a documentary, reached out to some old contacts and asked for guidance; I don't know where it's stemming from, but I certainly hope it stays! While asking certainly still has me feeling like Bambi on ice, the rewards certainly outweigh the risks.
My challenge to you and myself is just to ask. Put yourself out there. Create your own momentum and opportunities. I know first hand it's not easy, but as the old colloquialism goes, "you never know unless you try". I'm intentionally striving to be proactive in my asking and to scare the living daylights out of myself.
What are you scared to ask? Let me know in the comments. Let's encourage each other to ask the hard questions.