When I was considering what to study in college/University, I thought about what I loved. At the time I loved animation. I’m a control freak and I loved the idea of having 100% control over a film, even to the point of whether the laws of physics are working or not. I heard about those animators at Pixar who got to all got to go scuba diving and became certified scuba divers just so that they could animate the feeling of being underwater properly. I thought, each project I’ll be learning a little bit about a new world. It’ll be cool. I’ll do that.
Jump forward about 8 years and I’m seeing all this down side to being an animator that I had no clue about. You can either work in Asia as an animator, like a slave, but you get to work on some cool projects. Or, you can work in the west, but you’ll probably be fired after every project or even your studio might be closed down and relocated to a cheaper country. So if you want a job, you’ve got to migrate to where ever the jobs are at. Also the pay isn’t amazing, you’ll often be working on projects you don’t like and personal lives are only optional.
If you had told me the down sides of being an animator, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to be an animator. And I know it’s not just me who feels that way. A decent percentage of the people that I know would like to jump into a time machine and redo those college years. But why is it that so many of us make this mistake? I think it’s because as a society, we’ve been conditioned to focus on the positive and to hide the negative.
For example. American Idol. Why is it that it seems like 90% of America would like to be a famous singer? Because we want to be rich and famous. That’s it. That’s all people think about. But what about the down sides? Let’s take Britney Spears for example. Who would want to swap their life for hers? Yeah she had fame and what not, but she didn’t have a regular child hood. She didn’t have the college experience. She had so much pressure from family, paparazzi and stalkers and who knows what else, that she was hospitalised a couple of times, had a few mental break downs and shaved her head bald. Is having your vagina photographed by paparazzi for the world to see (a few times!) worth a bit of fame and fortune? What about an inability to walk the down street without adoring fans screaming at you or gossip rags judging your unfashionable tracksuit as if the route to your gym was a catwalk. I think if all of these issues were listed as requirements to becoming an American Idol, the audition queues would be a lot shorter. (But the crazies would still be there.)
What got me thinking about all this was listening to Jerry Seinfeld on The Howard Stern Show. He said
“Your blessing in life is when you find the torture you’re comfortable with.”
If you go through life searching to have a career based on what you’re good at, you’ll probably find yourself in a career that you like until you find something sh*tty about that job that you’re not willing to put up with. And so you look for another job that your skills suit, until you find something sh*tty with that job and so on and so on. (If you even bother changing jobs to find a career you’re happy with.)
A better way to find your calling is to look at all the undesirable traits of a job and go, ‘for most people, that would be a deal breaker. But for me, I don’t mind it too much. It genuinely doesn’t bother me.’ And that’s it. Looking at all the sh*tty things about a job and if you’re ok with that, do the job. It’s not important whether you’re inherently good at the job at first because with experience and over time, you can become a master of anything! With time and patience you can come to enjoy a craft that you might even have hated at the beginning. Because everyone likes being good at something, and with time and practice anyone can become good at anything.
Life is a balancing act. It’s yin and yang. You can focus only on the good points of a thing and the bad points will come out from nowhere and bite you in the ass. OR. You could focus on the bad points of a thing and have the good points come to be a pleasant surprise.
If you’ve time to kill, here’s that Jerry Seinfeld interview.