Well, this wraps up 2012. It’s been a huge year for me personally, and I want the thank everyone who has continued to show up and read my blog. It started simply as a movie review blog back in May, but I can see now that it wants to be a lot more than just that.
If I had one thing to say before going into the new year, it’s a message to my Cal Arts peers, whether I went to school with you, you‘re currently going there, or if you went there but we just haven’t crossed paths yet. I am on your side. My writings about the school, the industry, and people who have had their own success, they are personal observations of what I see currently happening in our industry. They are not attacks on you or anyone else. Above all, I do not hate Cal Arts. I hate what it has become.
I want to write about this stuff because the ones I do worry most about are the next generation coming in, who don’t really know yet what awaits for them and how easy it is to get yourself trapped in this industry, no matter what kind of success you achieve. The need for approval from others when you’re young and starting out is strong. But what most students don’t realize is that their search for approval doesn’t end when you get accepted by a school like Cal Arts. That “need” turns into something else, and gets bigger.
It becomes about impressing your friends. You search for approval continues by getting accepted into the Producers Show. You search for it in the annual Job fair, having to compete with your closest friends. You search for it from the studios, whom you hope will accept your portfolio. But it’s not just the acceptance we want so we’ll have a job. What we’re really looking for is the acceptance and acknowledgement by everyone else, when we spend so much time looking for the one athority figure who can finally tell us, “you‘re good. You’ve made it.”
But what happens is that even after all that when we’re finally told by someone we’re good, the search for approval doesn’t stop there. It’s not enough. Because once you run out of people to impress, you’re not going to have anyone except yourself. The thing we know deep down but avoid telling ourselves is that we’ve really spent all this time hiding from themselves. You will see when some of the most successful people climb the ladder, when they become producers, or become creators of their own show, or they start directing movies. Believe me, there are those people who have climbed the ladder and reached those positions of power, not because they have anything to say as artists, but it‘s part of a never ending search to continue filling a hole inside them. It’s not their fault though. The have been trained by Cal Arts, their peers, their parents, the world around them and everything else that success above all is the ultimate goal. They’ve done nothing all this time but trying to fulfill the wishes of other people. Never themselves. They saw those before them who were promoted to success at such a young age, thinking that’s the goal. Everyone and anyone who is that young is in a rush to make it to the top, never stop to wonder if in all that time when they stuck to their plan if they were missing out on something else. Or if they were purposely trying to avoid the life that was really awaiting them because they couldn’t bear the thought that it might just be too painful. Whatever they do, they will never get enough gratification and acceptance from anyone in the world, no matter how big the fan base becomes or how popular they are in the eyes of their friends. They have lost the courage to show people who they really are.
But right now if you’re a young art student, whether you’re trying to get into an art school like Cal Arts or your already there now, I can help you avoid all that pain and misery right now. And this is what I have to say to you:
You’re already good at what you do.
You are already talented. You always have been. You never needed your parents to tell you what you already knew was true inside. You have the gift. Before we all turned 9 or 10 years old and we drew as little kids, at that time it was never about impressing anyone accept ourselves. We all drew or painted what made us happy inside. And while we do want people to see our work and get the reaction we want out of it, its like what happens to kids who enter Jr. High and the goal starts becoming about popularity and impressing your friends. So it’s pretty easy for our audience’s reaction to become everything to us, and we forget on the inside where we came from in the first place. Because as they say, when no one else is around, who do you have to turn to except yourself? That’s just it.
You remember in A Christmas Carol, when the Ghost of Christmas Present has the two children around his legs. The boy is called Ignorance. The girl is called Want. And he warns “beware them both, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written, which is Doom, unless the writing be erased“. We could also name those same children Approval and Gratification, because they are also both stomachs that are never full, and if you’re not careful, those two things will always cling to you and bring you down.
Thankfully, however, this is why we have great movies to help us work through this stuff. Here’s one of the best, which is about discovering the true power of self we always inside had but never knew was there. If you are courageous enough to find it, you can always be happy with yourself, no matter where that tornado may take you. 🙂
Happy New Year everybody!