Mondays with Meg: The Future is Unwritten

My fiance and I at Magic Kingdom

Hello again, Campus Calmers! I apologize for my brief hiatus–I took a much needed trip to Walt Disney World last week for spring break. Now it’s back to the grind: the final seven weeks of my undergraduate career. Two months from tomorrow, I’ll be graduating from Ithaca College. The thought of that sends chills down my spine. While I was on vacation, I let reality slip away from me for a little while. I felt like I was 7 years old again, without a care in the world, skipping around Disney World and eating lots of ice cream cones. Today, I’m back on campus, up to my ears with work and worries once again.

I’m coming to terms with the idea of my future. Joe Strummer, frontman of one of my favorite bands of all time, The Clash, said “The future is unwritten.” And it’s true: the future is entirely unwritten, unpredictable and uncertain. No matter how hard I try to control the outcome of a situation, it never quite turns out the way I expected. I fret and fret over my future (What am I supposed to be doing with my life? Am I making the right decisions? Did I pass up an amazing opportunity? What if I amount to nothing?), but for what? Knots in my stomach, sleepless nights and tension all over my body and mind.

During my little escape from reality, I received some exciting and reassuring news: I was accepted into graduate school to study documentary film and history. What a relief! But the whole process of applying to grad school, choosing what to study, wondering if I could make it…all of that terrified me. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with journalism (my current major), and it’s taken me some time to realize what my niche is in the communications world. I’ve always considered myself a storyteller, ever since I was five years old and would put on plays for my parents or wrote stories about my teddy bears. Now, I still love telling stories–I love learning about other’s stories and sharing them with the world. But the question always lingered in my mind: is this a “practical” career field?

Even the world of journalism is shaky, at best. With the Internet, anyone can become a journalist, reporting on the happenings of their world, sharing videos and photos with ease and speed. But there’s something about documentaries that intrigues me. I love the long-form narrative, the ability to visually convey a story, the chance to combine art with reporting. I was (and still am) worried about my future as a documentary filmmaker, but it’s something I’ve been itching to try.

Last summer, with one of my first chats with Maria, she asked me what I was looking to do after I graduated. “Well, I’m looking into graduate school,” I replied. “Maybe Media Management or Documentary Film.” What a contrast. Media management was my “practical” choice, my “path to success.” I tried to convince myself that I would like it and that it was the right fit for me. But documentary called to me. Courtney Martin, an author and speaker interviewed by Maria in the LeadHer Success Kit, believes in following your passions and activism. Like the title of Martin’s book, sometime’s you’ve just got to “Do It Anyway,” regardless of what everyone else thinks.

Maria noticed my┬áhesitance. “Well, what do you want to do? Deep down in your gut, what feels right to you?” she asked me. My first response: documentary. Sure, it may not be the most stable career choice. Sure, it posses many challenges and long hours. But why not try it? I’m not on a deadline to be an Academy-award winning filmmaker by the time I’m 35. I’m not on any sort of deadline or path. The future is unwritten, and when it finally gets here, I’ll be ready to write my story, the triumphs and the failures.

So tell me, what do you think about your future? Are you willing to do it–your passion–anyway?

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