Today is my birthday. I’m now 18. And I’m going through a midlife crisis. Should I be worried?
I think it has something to do with watching too many inspirational YouTubers lately, but I have begun to think that I just spent the last four years of my life working toward something that I am going to end up regretting.
Throughout high school, I have worked my butt off because I want to get into a good college so I can grow up and have a stable, well-paying job in a field that I enjoy. Right now, I am on track to get into a good college where I have been planning on majoring in Cognitive Science. I am interested in the brain and I think it is fascinating how the simple exchange of chemicals between neurons could produce something so amazingly complex as speech, or comprehension of language, or thought/ emotions. Working in this field will allow me to explore this interest and most likely guarantee that I will be able to be employed for as long as I want to be employed. But I will always wonder if I could have been happier doing something else.
I have always had a passion for making films. My biggest dream in middle school was to become a director. I have always loved going through the hours of behind-the-scenes footage from movies to see exactly how they did what they did. It’s fascinating to see how a slight adjustment of a camera angle can have such an impact on the audience’s perception of what is being filmed. I love the chance to be creative. It makes me happy. And I think being a film director would be the one profession that would make me truly happy. My problem with it is that it is such a risky profession. If I am a director, I want the opportunity to make the kind of films that I want to make. I don’t like the fact that I might have to spend very long periods of time away from my home and my family. I don’t like that a lot of the Hollywood business is based on who you know rather than how dedicated you are (not to discredit the geniuses in the business). Also, if I choose this path, it will mean that I will be behind everyone else because I spent them working too hard to do busy work that will get me into Yale and not making films—discovering and exploring the world through the lends of a video camera. But still, if I were to become a successful director, I truly believe that it would bring me the most happiness.
What brought this on was a combination of a few things. First was realizing that I am going to go off to college in a matter of months and pretty soon, my fate will be sealed unless I want to spend a lot of extra time in school. If I want to be a director, I will have to decide that pretty soon because to get into good film programs, you need a good portfolio. Or I could just stick with science and hope that it makes me happy enough. Second, stupid inspirational people and sayings keep poping into my life. I happened to watch Danisnotonfire’s Meaning of LIfe video. Having Dan Howell tell me that, “You are an independent mind in this universe that can do anything and everything they want or have ever dreamed of and there’s no point in being alive if you’re not going to do it,” made me further question what I really wanted in life. The he said, “the meaning of a human life is to be happy. It’s to achieve happiness right now. It’s to make sure that you’re happy in the future and so that generally when you look back on your life you’re like ‘Uhh, yes. That was satisfactory.’ Do whatever you have to do to be happy.” And then he goes and says more things like “You are a human with one life and it is up to you to make it the best life you can.” Well, if I wanted to be happy now, I would try less in school and make more short films.
And then the ever-motivational Josh Sundquist has to go and say “The only limitation is time. What is in control is the time that we are willing to spend. Because here’s the thing: very few people, very few people, are willing to step up to the plate and say ‘You know what? As many strikes as it takes, as long as it takes, as many one more thing one more times as it takes, that’s what I’m going to do until I reach my goal.’ The people who do that, those are the people who succeed.” And then he goes and says, “So what I want to challenge you this New Years is to think bigger. To think that it’s possible for you. To think that that maybe you could accomplish that thing. Because if somebody else can do it, then you can figure out a way to do it as well.” If I knew I could become successful, I would drop cognitive science and become a director in a heart beat.
AND THEN just after I finish telling one of my best friends about all of my thoughts about this “midlife crisis,” we open fortune cookies and mine says “You are an artistic person—let your colors show.” Seriously? It was like a sign.
I have never questioned the decisions I have made throughout high school this much. Thanks a lot college, Dan, Josh, and fortune cookie makers.