Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Are You Worth It?

Sometimes I wonder if it's all worth it.

Sometimes I'll sit around and think about old friends who aren't in this business. The ones who seem happy getting engaged, getting married and having kids. The ones who have a steady, predictable job that lets them have a life when they want to instead of working all hours of the day.

Sometimes I'll think about the older guys I work with. The ones who've been in this business for decades and are still doing the same job they were when they started. Will I still be "just a juicer" twenty or thirty years down the line? Some of them seem content (for the most part) with where they are. They count down the hours left in the day until they can go home to their kids and understanding spouse.

But some of them have loved and lost. Divorced papers have been signed, child support has been paid, and "I get the kids this weekend" is what they're excited about come Friday night. Lovers and family have come and gone, but the only constant in their life is work. Sometimes I look at these men and wonder if I'll end up like them.

And I wonder, if it's all worth it.

People come from every corner of the globe with a sparkle in their eye, just begging for a chance to work in this business. And most of them get their asses handed to them. It's a tough town, but for some reason, I seem to be defying all odds and surviving. I'm making an okay living at it with no sign of slowing down.

But as we all know, things can change in an instant in this industry. What if this is as good as it's going to get for me? What if I never get to where I want to be in this business? What if I'm so busy trying to climb that ladder that I wake up twenty years from now and realize that I haven't gone anywhere. That life has passed me by because I was unwilling to give up a moment of work? Am I better off just bailing out now, get a regular 9 to 5 job and pop out some kids so I'd at least have something ten years down the line?

To get where you want to be professionally, I've been told that you need to put your head down and work hard. And in this crazy, fucked up business we're in and love, you're supposed to take every job that comes your way because you never know when the next one will come, and more importantly, you never know where it might lead. I've taken plenty of seemingly bullshit jobs over the years that have surprisingly ended up being some of the best decisions I've ever made for my career.

Right now, it seems like all I do is work. All I think about is work. Because, let's face it, besides the fact that I'm trying to work my way up as fast as possible, I love my job. I love this industry. I love what I do. Some of my co-workers may think of me as "boring" since I don't have any exciting hobbies to go home to over the weekend, but while they work to live, right now, I guess I live to work.

But a small part of me, just a tiny little piece, believes there's a chance that sometime in the future, I'll look around and realize I didn't make it. That I'm still doing the same job, only now I work to live instead of the other way around. That I sacrificed my youth for a dream that didn't pan out. That I've been so busy working on a go-nowhere career over the years that I forgot I was supposed to get someone to come home to.

And that I'll sit around and wonder, was it all worth it?

Happy Valentine's, Y'all!



The Grip Works said...

This is a philosophical crossroads everyone who does what we do finds themselves in.
There is no easy answer ...
Could you see yourself doing a 9to5 ?
A lot of the guys and girls I know (myself included) are here because we could not imagine doing a 9 to 5.
I was a commercial diver before I became a grip, and thats a lot worse for all the things you mention.
I think it comes down to whether you can keep perspective and hold your life together whilst holding your job down as well.
It is a hard, competitive business we are in. And it is hard to keep relationships, but you will find momentum, and a pace that works for you.
Its hard when you see your friends married and having kids, and getting on with the life you are "expected" lead.
And its harder during christmas and other holidays (such as valentines day)
But you are not them, and they are not you.
Chances are that you will not be happy with their life, and remember that everyone has their own problems to deal with.
Lighten up and enjoy yourself.
Happy Valentines day !

Michael Taylor said...

I'm with Sanjay on this one. The "what ifs" come with every big decision in life, so all you can do is what feels right at the time and hope for the best. From my time in Hollywood and through the Industry blog-o-sphere, I've met hundreds of below-the-liners who manage to make both worlds work, with a thriving industry career and a family. Both Sanjay and "D" (from Dollygrippery) are married with children, as are most of my industry friends.

It's hard, no doubt, even if you don't go on long location jobs. Working the brutal hours so many shows demand (in town or out) is tough on family life, but it's doable. Just make sure your potential spouse or life-partner knows what they're in for and can deal with it -- otherwise, trouble lies ahead.

If you really want an Industry career and a family, you can do it.. but what you really want and need is a question only you can answer.

D said...

Well said by two men who know. I agree completely with Sanjay and Michael. The fears you articulate are present in every business. I'm sure most people with regular careers ask themselves if they'll still be sitting at that desk in thirty years. I had the exact same concerns. I was divorced with a child while still in my twenties. After several years of sowing my wild oats a second time, I began to question whether this would be my whole life and wanted to look back on more than a series of movies and partying. Then, after I was remarried with a newborn, I was still living between two coasts trying to spend time with my daughter. Now, my children are asleep upstairs, we're all in the same house at least every other weekend, and I have a semblance of a "normal" life (though twelve hour days will never be normal). It can work but it takes work and you have to give up some things on both sides. At some point, you also have to have the simple joy of practicing a craft that few will ever get to be a part of and doing it well. Don't LOOK for your happiness in your work, but FIND happiness in your work. You're young. You have time. Enjoy the ride.

C.B. said...

It's worth it for your own experience but also because you are willing to share your stories with others, and you've got a cool blog.
You never know where that's going to take you.
Keep up the good work!

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