When people give you career advice they usually tell you to “do what you love.” That is complicated for me, because I love a lot of things.

When I was younger, I used to love to dance and choreograph. In fact, I loved it more than I loved any other activity in the world. For me, dancing came almost as naturally as breathing. Even though I didn’t have a lot of professional or technical training, I was good at it. By Junior year I was already captain of my high school drill team. I went to state conventions and competitions, and later took my team to nationals at Disney World, where we won first place (and I won my cherished “Best Choreography” award). I thought I had found my calling; I was on the road to becoming a professional dancer and choreographer.

Everything changed the summer before my senior year of high school. I injured my knee at dance camp and had arthroscopic surgery to remove the damaged cartilage. The recovery was rough. I eventually went back to dancing and choreographing, but within a year my “good knee” turned into another bad knee, and I had yet another surgery. At that point my surgeon implored me to stop dancing. I was crushed. Soon after, I moved across the country to start college and hopefully find a new dream.

I spent my first few years of college as an undeclared major. I never lacked ambition or drive, but I still didn’t know what I wanted to do or where to focus all my energy. But then…(drum roll)…I found the Comm Dept. Oh glorious media! Writing, photography, theater – all things I enjoyed! Thanks to the promptings of my lovely professors Jan Pletcher and Donna Downs, I became a Communications major. I rocked my journalism classes and my articles were published in local newspapers and magazines. I took a semester of acting class and found myself starring in a school play. I interned in our university’s PR department and edited publications. Somewhat unrelated to the department (but still enjoyable), I found a niche in our annual airband competition and choreographed and performed several dance numbers for the stage. I still didn’t find that “one thing,” I was passionate about, but I was having a blast.

In the course of my studies I read a lot about how media – namely film and television – had a powerful impact on culture. I spent my final semester of school at a “semester in LA” film  program, where I interned at a dance & choreography agency and took classes in Hollywood. During that semester my professors encouraged me to view Hollywood as a “mission field” with a huge and powerful impact. I was sold. I didn’t like my internship, and I had no idea where I fit in the greater scheme of things, but I knew that I wanted to work “in the industry.”

I’ve been living and working in Hollywood for four and a half years now, and I still don’t know where I fit in the greater scheme of things. I can tell you, however, that I’ve been through some really hard times. I had my quarter life crisis before I ever hit 25 (appropriately so, as most people don’t live to be 100). I’ve worked grunt jobs, mindless jobs, thankless jobs, temp jobs, 70+ hour production weeks, and I’ve done on-set manual labor. I’ve interviewed for countless positions. I’ve produced an independent DVD. And I still haven’t found anything that’s given me the same amount joy that I felt when I was dancing.

Even though the economy has tanked, I’ve been blessed with a long-term temp job from 9:00-6:00 everyday. Working a mere 40-hour week (yes, this is the mentality you get in Hollywood, a 40-hour week is a walk in the park) has opened several hours in my day that I now use for gym time, Life Group, movie screenings and events, line dancing, and other fun non-work activities. I have been embracing this time in my life as a season that allows me to…dare I say it…have fun and do what I love outside of work. Maybe I’ll never have just one thing that I love, but I do know that I already have two: writing and dance (hopefully the non-knee destroying kind).

I still haven’t let myself off the hook to figure out what I want to do for pay (afterall, it would be a welcome change to actually be stimulated by my paying job), but perhaps this is the time to rediscover and nurture those things that make me happy in life. I want to be present in whatever season I find myself, so that I can welcome the next season of my life with open (happy) arms.

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