Over the week-end I lived through two dichotomies. I was overwhelmed by the talent I witnessed while volunteering for an organization in Los Angeles, WriteGirl. These young women, high-school age, have powerful, poignant voices. Their creative expression is so, so inspiring. Should they choose it, their words will ultimately impact and shape the world. There were no coy voices in the house. Each young woman, seemingly uninhibited, stood and shared her raw language to an audience as if no one else was there to judge. I loved being a witness to this level of mature talent in young voices. They reminded me of the power of the written word.
Following that, I headed downtown to volunteer at the La Femme Film Festival. Another volunteer and I were standing together, waiting for further instructions so we started talking. He’s an Italian who moved to L.A. to pursue his dream to be a filmmaker. He’s been in L.A. for two months, having moved from New York. Already discouraged by the Hollywood process, he’s talking about going for his MBA and ditching the whole idea of being a successful filmmaker. L.A.’s too tough; doors aren’t opening. I remind him that he’s only been in L.A. two months. In his early 40s, he shared his frustration at not making it in film, and fears he is now too old. Maybe it’s time to face the fact that this is not his destiny. Instead, he should do something responsible or mature, like get an MBA. This is not a new story. Everyone I know or have known who becomes discouraged by the never ending disappointments of trying to make it, especially in entertainment, has a remarkably similar story. But I am determined to get him to see this thing from a different perspective. He’s reacting to what he perceives as failure. (Been there!) He has decided—having been in L.A. for a short time—that it’s way too time-consuming and he’s already done this song and dance in New York. It’s never good to make an important decision based on being frustrated with a painstakingly slow process; or discouraged because the timeline isn’t working according to your age. I told him not to make the choice to get an MBA because at this moment in his life he’s deeply disappointed. Life altering decisions should never be made based on discouragement. Give it—give L.A.—a little more time I told him. Or at least wait until he’s in a different state of mind.
Oddly enough, the following morning I was online and decided to catch a Joel Osteen sermon. In it he states, “Don’t let discouragement steal your dreams . . .” I only wished I could have shared those words with the discouraged would-be filmmaker. It was fascinating to experience a curious juxtaposition in one day. I started the day listening to aspiring, poignant voices. Young people with fire, desire, and presumably wonderful and creative lives ahead them. To then listen to a middle-aged wounded would-be filmmaker who was about to jump off the ledge of his dreams because he was deeply, painfully discouraged by an arduous process.