Category Archives: School

Lesson #365: The final lesson.

7/20/15.

The day I started this blog, I was on my closet floor crying because it felt like my life had become a continuous bad day.

Now I’m sitting here on a mocha-colored couch outside of a coffee shop all the way across the country in California, typing my last lesson, and still crying.

It’s good to know some things don’t change.

When I woke up today, all I could think was:

“Mia. It’s been 365 days.”

I couldn’t grasp the number. Trying to process it was like standing on the edge of a cliff, looking out at the vastness, and becoming overwhelmed with fear.

Except I had already done it.

Four seasons, twelve months, 365 days.

I can’t begin to explain the amount of joy, the depth of gratitude, the undeniable sadness, and the expanse of excitement I am feeling right now.

It’s been 365 days, and my life has changed in ways I never thought it would, or could. I have experienced so many things and seen so much in just a single year, and I’ve gotten to express every part of it.

A few months ago, someone told me something. I never wrote it into a lesson because something seemingly more prominent stole the day, but I remember scrambling to write it down, and hoping and praying that the right time would come along again to share it with you all. And I think today is that day.

It literally felt like everything I knew was falling apart in that moment and in the moments that followed—and I’m sure you’ve all experienced the feeling. I walked to work sobbing, and although I cleared my eyes in time before checking in with my boss, she knew something was wrong. After confiding in her, she told me something I’ll never forget.

“The reality of it now is not the reality of it forever—I promise.”

And after this year, and this blog, nothing in my life has ever rang more true.

It just so happens that I started this blog during a dark time in my life, and now it’s ending during the best.

In the nowhere-near-linear process of this turn around, I’ve learned so, so much. Perfection isn’t real. Money can’t buy you happiness. It takes time and guts to heal. Run with full abandon towards what you love, and cut loose what you don’t. Culture and beauty is everywhere. You are seen. People are shitty. People are fantastic. Life is great—or at least it can be if you make it.

From New York to Maryland to North Carolina to Florida. From my beloved hometown of Virginia Beach, VA, to my second life at school in the mountains of Harrisonburg, VA, to landing my dream internship in Los Angeles, California.

It’s been 365 days since I pressed the little blue button to create this account, and hit “publish” on a lesson for the very first time. If I’m being honest—I cannot begin to tell you how utterly happy and relieved I am that I don’t have to come home exhausted at the end of every night and write a lesson. But I also can’t begin tell you how truly sad I am to let this piece of my life go. It’s not every day you get to say you documented each day of your life for an entire year, until you do. And now that it’s over, I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do without my little escape, my outlet, and my canvas for words.

There are truly no words for how bittersweet this is. And if there is a step beyond having no words, then I really have none for how extremely grateful I am.

First, I am always completely and entirely thankful for my God. I know that none of the events in my life go without reason, and that my main man has been by my side through it all. Many times throughout this year my head was more focused on my feet than the sky. I loathed how distracted, busy, and cloudy minded I could be—but He never once left me. I am grateful for the good. I am grateful for the bad. And I am continually and eternally grateful for the grace of God. Even though this (literal) chapter of my life is ending, I am excited to see where He will guide me next.

To my wonderful parents, my special friends, and some really great family members—thank you. Not just for giving me great moments to learn from, but for always pushing me and encouraging me. Nights got HARD. Some days I had so much to do that I wouldn’t be able to start my lesson until 1am. My three options were usually to 1) suck it up and write, 2) cry and write, or 3) go to sleep, wake up the next morning, and then cry and write because now I was behind on a post when I “promised” I never would be. But your constant love and support has been something that’s carried me through, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. All it took was one little comment on the blog or on Facebook or walking across campus to make me look forward to writing the next one. It’s the simple things. You each had a hand in inspiring all these people as well. And I thank you. You know who you are.

To the not so great people—I want to thank you too. After this year, I have a better idea of the kind of people I do and don’t want in my life. I’ve learned that people can teach who you don’t want to be and what you don’t want to be like, and those lessons are just as important. You all have been blessings in my life as well.

To the guest lessonists—thank you for being apart of something so special. Thank you for telling your story.

And of course—the readers. You are all so special to me. Thank you for lending a listening ear. I hope you have all learned and grown in some way. If you remember just one thing from these 365 days—then I’ve done my job.

I thank this blog for allowing me the space to not be perfect. I thank this blog for teaching me about self control and dedication—but for also teaching me about the fact that shit happens. Living comes before anything else, and you have to momentarily leave all guilt and thoughts if you’re going to do it fully. I thank this blog for teaching me how to be scared, but doing it (or writing it) anyway. I thank this blog for teaching me to live with thicker skin, but to be open, honest, and vulnerable.

Most of all, I want to thank this blog for challenging me to look for the best in each and every single day—especially when there was no “best” in the day—for confronting it, expressing it, and turning it into something meaningful.

I will miss this so much.

I no longer have an excuse to find the best in each day—but I hope this year has taught me how.

It’s good to know some things don’t change.

But it’s good to know some things do.

This blog has added so much color to my life. It been more than a blog for me; it has been a journey. And I can’t believe I did it.

It feels weird coming to the end. It feels like I’m not finished; like there’s so much more to say.

And that’s because there is.

The lessons we learn are perennial. They will continue to arise in many shapes, sizes, and forms.

It all branches on one big tree. They stem from the root of life, and they turn out to all be a part of the same foundation. I’ve found that all lessons all come back to the same core concepts, and this is what I’ve come to know.

Do what makes you happy,

be passionate, compassionate, and kind,

and always, always, always keep learning.

The world will keep telling us this time and time again.

And so will I.

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Day 365.

Lesson #363: You can’t make them understand.

7/19/15.

Wait.

I can explain.

I swear this is not as angsty as it sounds.

As you all may know, I’m in Los Angeles for the summer with 20 other students. I have an internship that I love in which I work from 9am to 6pm—give or take—four days a week. Tack on an hour before and after those times to factor my the traffic-heavy commute, and that’s an eleven hour day. The one weekday I don’t have my internship, I’m in two entertainment industry classes for a total of six hours of my day. We have a homework assignment and mini-project for the classes each week. Weekends are “free,” but they’re packed with adventure, considering we’re only here for two months.

Welcome to my life in California.

I like to have fun, and I want to make memories. But as you may have sensed in previous lessons,

I like to keep busy.

My to-do list is constantly growing and growing, I’m constantly up to a million things, and I’m always on the go.

The trip is quickly coming to an end, and there are so many “real life” things I need to complete before my time on the west coast is over.

Let me fill you in on how my list is looking.

I need to complete a final project that consists of putting together a verbal and visual television series pitch, start an original screenplay that’s due before the first day of my final video production class at the end of August, finish the editing of a wedding video that I shot over a month ago in June, film and edit two fun and informative videos for my internship that I planned on making before I leave E! (that are not required… I’m just an overachiever), organize additional research that I put together prior to the start of my internship into something presentable and feasible, edit together clips of my LA adventures for my YouTube series (which is currently just not happening), plan and edit a book trailer for a close friend and client, and stay on top of this blog just days before it’s over.

My head is actually spinning.

Sometimes I don’t know where to start. Like Andy advised, my plan has been to work deadline to deadline.

But what are you supposed to do when your deadlines are all at the same time—and there’s 4 or 5 of them to meet?

On top of the stress coming from myself and the looming projects I’ve created,

there’s the stress coming from others—whether they mean to induce it or not.

I am truly struggling with the balance to make this experience the best that it can be (though it already has been—no doubt in my mind), and being productive.

What makes this to-do list more stressful than any other I’ve had before, is that in one way or another, my future depends on the success of a lot of the items.

Most of my life questions in the past month have gone like this:

Stay in on this beautiful Friday night to write a blog post and work on whatever which project?

Or go out on the town and have the time of my life?

Like I said, I’ve been having an absolute ball why I’m out here. I never pass up the super big opportunities, but it’s the little ones here and there that add up to make me feel guilty and a little bit sad sometimes.

One thing that I pride myself on, is that give everything I do 100%. Ask anyone who knows me: I’ll stay up until 5am to get something exactly the way I want it. In one lesson a while back, Chiquita mentioned that whenever we put our name on something—we put our stamp of excellence on it. And I live by that. I move slower because of my attention to detail, and I am self conscious about that a lot of the times. People tell me that my work ethic is good, and other people tell me that my work ethic bad—but I don’t need anyone to tell me that I know it’s both.

I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember, walking through my life with my hands full at all times. My friends are usually supportive and encouraging, and many understand. But at the same time, I’m definitely not a stranger to shady looks and judgement from people (even those who are close) who don’t understand why I am the way am, and the amount of work it takes to constantly be creating.

You work too hard. You do too much. Why don’t you just go to bed? Why don’t you do it a different time? Why do you do it at all? Why don’t you just go out and have a good time for once? Why do you never go with us?

I know that I need sleep. I know that I should have fun. I know that I am only skin and bones, and that I’m human, and that I have limitations. I know that to a certain degree, these people are definitely right.

But I do know that how I feel and the passion for the things I take on are right, too.

On Tuesday, I met up with a new friend, Mojan.

She is a wonderful and beautiful person, making it on her own in LA. She did the same program two years ago as I’m doing now. After Mojan finished her internship at Fox that summer, she immediately knew she wanted to move to Los Angeles. Upon returning to her junior year of college, she took double the classes, talked her way into getting the right signatures, graduated a year early, and moved to California. She’s now an Executive Assistant at ABC, as well as an actor, model, and singer.

I saw so much of myself in her that it was scary. Every piece of advice she was giving me related directly to every thought and concern that I’m having in my life right about now.

One of the very first things she told me was this.

“People wont understand, and you don’t have to make them. It’s not your job, and you shouldn’t have to.”

Mojan told me that when she went back to school after that summer—and even when she returned home after moving to California—many people questioned her career choice, her career path, and how she was going about all of it. They didn’t get the long hours, and the instability of it all, and the fact that you have to work your way up without knowing what’s next in order to get to where you want to be.

I’ve always felt a little surge of frustration upon hearing things like this too—even on my small scale of staying in to finish a project and constantly having to hear about it.

Although I understood the exact feeling of frustration that she was talking about, it was one of those things where I didn’t really realize how much it bothered me until someone else pinpointed exactly how I was feeling.

You know you aren’t crazy, because someone else has felt it too.

I thought that one day—especially in LA—it would magically become clear to me.

I thought that all of a sudden, I would be able to discern between when it’s the right time to have fun, and when it’s the right time to be productive.

But it’s not that easy, because nothing ever is.

I don’t think it ever will be.

But from what I’ve learned, from what I’ve experienced, and by the Grace of God—

something has become a little bit clearer to me.

Here’s what I know.

Believe in yourself and in what you do, and never stop.

It’s not going to be easy.

And you yourself are going to want to quit at times.

But just know that in the end—

if this is what you want, and if this is ultimately what brings you joy—

the blood, sweat, and tears (I know about this one) are so, so worth it.

And you’re the only one who needs to understand that.

Day 363.

Lesson #361: Hey, I just met you. And this is crazy.

7/16/15.

Today I rolled out of bed at 5:30am to start getting ready for my day, but no coffee was needed because I was headed to the Emmy Nomination Announcement Ceremony for my internship that morning—and that was enough to fuel me for the entire day.

I arrived at the Pacific Design Center and walked nervously through the beautiful halls complete with sleek modern design and old-fashioned gold detailing. I followed the Emmy Nomination signs to the theater destination. IMG_7368 I assumed I’d report directly to a set-up area labeled E! News like a few of the other shoots I had been on. I thought I would sit there until the crew and the producer arrived, and then I’d help set up.

Surprise.

When I arrived upstairs just shy of 7am, there was no area labeled E! News.  There was a medium-sized room full of breakfast foods and fruit, hot coffee, and a large number of very scary real life adults.

I love engaging with new people. But about 30 or 40 busy, experienced, and most likely stressed out professionals running around at 8 in the morning?

Not so much.

For close to an hour, I waited in a room with retro couches and standing tables packed with producers, camera operators, sound engineers, television hosts, reporters, anchors, and other high-up workers. The producer at E! that I was working under for the morning wasn’t there yet, so I had an hour to either sit by myself in the corner, or use this as an opportunity to chat it up as many industry heads as I could.

I sat in the corner by myself.

Luckily, I had an everything bagel and some strawberries and fruit to keep me company.

A few kind texts from my mom, too.

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I chose a seat in the corner next to a guy in his late 20s/early 30s—mostly because he didn’t seem as intimidating as the others and he was on his phone. This meant I wouldn’t have to awkwardly attempt to talk to him, awkwardly keep a conversation going, or scope out whether he was too busy to talk or if he didn’t want to talk at all.

I knew what an opportunity I was passing up, not out on the floor (or on the couch) interacting with others.

I mean—these are people IN the industry.

But I honestly couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I look 16, I’m obviously younger than the rest of them, and I had trouble thinking I would be taken seriously. What would someone do if I approached them to talk?

Who was I to them?

As soon as the guy next to me got off the phone, he turned to me, rolled his eyes with a kind humor, and a lightheartedly said: “Roommate drama.” I laughed and replied: “Yea, everyone knows about that.” We began talking.

Our conversation was interesting, and it lasted a good while. I told him why I was out here, how I got to where I am, and what I want (or think I want) to do. He seemed genuinely interested; it took me by surprise. Not that he seemed rude or mean from the beginning—or that any of these people did—it was just the fact that he was giving me a piece of his time. And that’s a precious, hot commidity out here.

After the first part of the conversation and a little bit of back and forth about our lives, I ask him what he does and how he likes it.

Turns out, he’s a producer at Time Warner.

We exchanged information, and now I have a new LA friend. Or at least, a connection.

A few minutes after 8am, we were finally allowed into the theater where the announcements would soon take place. Each network lined up in a row to begin preparing to record the live event. A few minutes later, the celebrity announcers, Uzo Aduba and Catt Dealy, gracefully pranced onto stage to greet the house and begin listing the lucky nominees. They were surprised at the end of the announcements when the president of the Television Academy came out on stage to read the last two categories. Both of them were nominated for their own show! They didn’t put that part in the rehearsal, so they had absolutely no idea it was coming. I had a huge smile on my face, watching the two amazing women humbly and adorably freak out on stage as they were selected for such an honor—especially Catt in her british accent.

Both seemed humble and sweet. Uzo was absolutely beautiful (she doesn’t have real life crazy eyes…hence the reason she deserves an Emmy) and flawless, and Catt light up the stage with the positive energy and presence she radiates. Before the interview, I told Catt I loved her romper (seriously it was so cute) and she smiled and laughed and thanked me. She went on to tell me how she loved them because they reminded her of Jimmy Kimmel’s pajamas. After the interview she thanked the crew and turned to thank me (for whatever reason). I wanted to shed a single tear of happiness, but I kept it together. What a kind lady.

On the way back to my car, I found myself walking next to an older lady on the way down the large ballroom stairs. She commented on how marvelous and grand the stairs were, and how she was waiting for her prince at the bottom. I laughed and made a joke about still waiting for my prince to come, and she said “I’ve been waiting for years.” We began talking—and again—I had a lovely conversation with yet another person.

Turns out, she’s a producer at the Television Academy for the Emmy’s and Tony’s.

I wanted to fall over and die.

I also wanted to tell her how funny and ironic it was that I applied to the Television Academy internship and didn’t get it—but somehow I still ended up here anyway.

I wasn’t sure if we were on that level yet, so I didn’t.

Even at my own internship, in one of the first weeks I ran into the executive producer in the bathroom without knowing it.

Sometimes we come across the best people in the most mundane of places.

Whether it’s a producer, a stranger with an interesting or inspiring past, your next best friend, or your future significant other—you never know who you are speaking with.

Be kind to all,

and most of all,

don’t be afraid to say hello.

Day 361.

Lesson #345: And they worked happily ever after.

6/30/15.

Can you forgive me for a momentary lack of loyalty?

For a second today, I abandoned my number one rule:

Never stop learning.

As you know, Tuesdays mean we have a guest speaker in class.

But I’m only human, and I made a mistake.

I momentarily caught myself thinking that I had nothing new to learn—mostly because I was missing being an extra in a movie to be in class—but nonetheless, I’m still embarrassed the thought even crossed my mind. How could I basically betray the whole purpose of my blog?

I’d like to think it wasn’t with pretentious way; thoughts like this aren’t a regular occurrence for me. But after three or four guest speakers combined with my circumstance, I started thinking: What does it even matter? Won’t their advice all be the same? To make connections? Work hard? To do our best?

Today, Amy Baer came to my rescue, and seriously proved me wrong. She completely flipped the table, and gave some of the most incredible advice I’ve ever received in my life. It was an absolute honor.

Amy Baer is a former studio executive (AKA the previous CEO of CBS Films and Executive Vice President of Sony Pictures…wowza) turned independent producer and founder of her own content company, Gidden Media. Baer and her Gidden colleagues, Chris Ceccoti (JMU Alumni…whoop whoop) and Jes Bikert, were kind enough to share a little bit of their stories and give us some insight into the professional world.

Amy started with my favorite thing to hear from people:

her story.

When Baer started her career, she was working at a desk. She began thinking rather quickly: ”How do I break out of this mold?” She was terrified that she would get comfortable; that she would become a career secretary. Working at a popular company, she realized that nothing about it was appealing other than the outside perspective; that the company was “cool” and “big.”

She said one day it hit her: “I’m not exactly sure what I want, but I know it’s not this.”

I think this is all something we can relate to—or will at some point in our lives—whether it’s a job, internship, relationship, or something of the sort. Here’s some freaking great advice from Amy Baer on how she handled it, and what she’s learned over the course of her career.

Before your happily ever after

One of the very first things Amy told us, is to tune in internally and really get clear on what we want to be doing.

“You have to be clear internally, because this is a noisy business.”

We know in our gut what kind of things we enjoy doing naturally; it’s instinctive. It’s pretty simple: you know what you like and what you don’t—whether you know exactly what you want to do with your life, or not. Don’t focus on the job title you want, or the position you crave. Focus on what you love to do.

Sounds easy, right?

But with your first few jobs, that might get put to the test.

You might have to try a few places or positions to figure out where your heart lies.

So onto the next chapter of life.

During your happily ever after

So you finally get your ‘happily ever after’ job.

Or at least—you think you do.

But the story isn’t over here.

The truth is, what we usually think is our end destination, is only the beginning.

The show goes on—and there might be a few plot twists along the way.

Here’s five things you may want to know.

1. Part of remaining happy in what you do involves holding near and dear what’s valuable to you. It’s unavoidable: at some point in your career, you will have to choose between what you value, and your job. At one point in her life, Amy got offered a great job opportunity with DreamWorks, but she had to watch another person get it because she didn’t want to move her kids in school. You will have to choose. And because of this, you won’t get every job. But you will ultimately get to keep and have what you love and value. As for Amy, she didn’t get that specific job. But in the end, she got the job. (I mean…she’s running her own company!)

2. Discover and create a safe space with a great group of people where ideas can be kicked around without judgment. The people in this environment should be encouraging, but everyone should constantly be pushing and challenging one another also. Jes loved a script they received about rice. It was a strange concept, but he went for it anyways. He told Amy to read it, and she ended up loving it too—all because she was open to it.

3. If you’re afraid, this business is not for you. Amy told us that we’re constantly going to be told our idea “won’t work.” She has received feedback on pitches multiple times: ”No one is going to buy this.” She told us, “Well that’s their opinion. Next phone call.” And even we you do get it—everybody falls flat on their face at some point. “Everybody. Everybody. Everybody,” she said. “And it’s not ‘if’. It’s ‘when.'” One or two or five projects are bound to be a bust. But there are one or two or five that won’t be.

4. If you’re looking for security, this business is also not for you. Things are changing, constantly. Nothing is promised. But the good news? There’s endless possibility. Especially in this day and age.

5. Beware of boredom. And most importantly, when you do get bored with what you’re doing, leave. Fear boredom like the plague. Don’t listen to the paycheck, or the voices that say, “This is what I should be doing next.” Hating or becoming disinterested in what you do everyday—and staying—is death on earth. You should love what you do, because it’s what you’re spending your life doing.

When you do come to that fork in the road, feeling unhappy or unsure about what you’re doing, really sit down and ask yourself this:

“Why am I doing this?”

Baer had to ask herself this when she found herself unhappy at one of her jobs. She remembered thinking, again,

“This is not what I want to be doing.”

She recalled her earliest memories of being happy. “When I was younger, I fell in love with the way I felt when I watched movies. I thought, ‘What does this job have to do with creative content?’ It didn’t. So I quit.”

When it came time for questions, I asked: “How do you know it’s definitely time to leave, or if you should stay a little bit longer to get the most of the experience?” Chris answered: “Ask yourself: ‘Am I still learning things? Am I growing?’ If not, it’s probably time to go.”

As we were about to move onto to the next question, Amy came back to me and told me something I’ll never forget—or at least something I never want to.

She told us to always ask ourselves:

Am I serving where my passion is?”

And I think that pretty much sums up the entirety of the talk.

Go where you are able to serve your passion by doing what you love.

Go work happily ever after.

But like any old tale, we have to question it’s authenticity.

Is ‘happily ever after’ a real thing?

Maybe we’ll work happily ever after, and that will be the end of it.

But maybe we’ll spend our whole lives searching for what we love to do, finally finding it, and then searching and finding it all over again.

Like Brenna expressed in her guest post a few days ago, many fear being average.

But what I fear?

Finding something above average that I love doing, but never being satisfied with it somehow; always wanting more.

That idea is actually terrifying to me. But in a way—it’s inspiring. It’s fantastic. It’s whimsical. It’s magical.

A world of opportunity is a scary thing.

But it only means more opportunity for us to keep falling in love with different aspects and subsets and branches of what we love to do. It means we have the opportunity to constantly create different things, think in new ways, and continually change and impact our corner of the world. We just can’t fear the change.

So how does it end?

Well.

It looks like we’ll work happily ever after—

—until our next fairytale carries us away.

Day 345.

Lesson #339: Playing defense.

6/24/15.

When I was given a lower grade than the rest,

I was caught off guard.

I sat down my laptop, and angrily and confusedly typed away in the “Make a Comment” section—which is completely unlike me.

“Was it one of the slides?” I asked. “Or maybe the joke I made?” I paused to think, and then typed some more. “Was it the games I incorporated into my part of the presentation? The directions told us to make it fun and engaging. I don’t quite understand if and why I’m being penalized for it.”

I was met with this response.

“Great job. I would have liked for you to focus on the content and not the performance on this assignment.”

He ended it with a smiley face.

I am all open to feedback and constructive criticism, but I just didn’t see this one coming.

I was absolutely upset—and quite honestly—a little bit hurt.

For one, it’s a summer class. Two, I worked hard on my part of the presentation, within the time frame I had. Three, I had this professor before, he knows what kind of student I am, and I did very, very well in his last class. Four…my “performance”? This hit a personal note for me.

I thought I was only being myself. Anyone who knows me knows that I am animated and energetic—and it’s not like I was a stranger to him. You can only imagine that this seriously made me question myself: how I act, how I come off to others, who I am as a person. It felt like a punch straight to the stomach.

I think it’s safe to say I was stumped, so I asked.

He answered, explaining his reasoning a tad bit more.

I was still upset, but I forced myself to step back, get out of my own head, and assess the situation realistically.

I asked to meet up with him and talk through it; I needed to understand. He is someone I value, respect, and trust—so it was important for me to do this. If what he was saying was true, I needed to know how I could do better and be better in the future.

I promised myself that I’d go into the conversation with an open mind, and I did. He told me he holds me to a high standard. He told me that compared to my last presentation, this one seemed a tad overdone; like a performance. I told him that while the purpose of my last presentation (a television episode pitch) was more professional and serious, I assumed this one (an informative group lecture on the entertainment industry during the 1910’s/20’s) was more entertaining and engaging. But I agreed with him. While I didn’t agree that the presentation was of the same caliber, I swallowed my pride and accepted that part of what he said had to be true: if the content didn’t come through clearly, at least to the guy who’s grading it, then I didn’t get the job done.

In the end, though, I realized that it didn’t matter if what he said about my “performance” was true or false: and that’s the answer I think I came into the conversation looking for. While I agreed with some things, others in my heart I knew not to be true. I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be getting an answer—because only I could answer that for myself.

You have to be true to yourself, and only you can decide if you’re doing that or not.

You’ll know it in your gut when you aren’t.

Feedback is easy, when we ask for it.

But when we don’t, it’s easy to be on the defensive. In fact, it’s our natural reaction to most things when we feel caught off guard or personally attacked.

But what you can do, is take a second, open yourself up to feedback (as long as they are being constructive), be open to becoming better in whatever way you can, and be open to how you are coming off to others.

Playing defense is important; we have to protect what’s ours.

But today, I learned the best (and hardest) thing I’ve learned in a while.

You have to relax those muscles every once in a while in order to become a better player.

Day 339.

Lesson #338: The day I met professional colorers.

6/23/15.

—no crayons involved.

Today, I spent my day off as my day in.

On Tuesdays I have two summer classes, so it’s the only day of the week I don’t go into my internship.

But this Tuesday was the exception. Today’s class was actually a tour of my summer stomping grounds: NBCUniversal.

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My professor and fellow students/friends/peers joked around, telling me to give the tour, or how “exciting” it must be to walk around the building for the 100th time, or to go home because it was my day off.

But you know cheesy ol’ me—I believe there’s always something new to learn.

And to no surprise, it was true.

I saw a studio I didn’t even know existed, saw the back-end of the media room that I order tapes from every day on the job, and met new people I had never passed or met before.

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After we were done escapading (I’m making that a word now) through the producers’ meeting room, the control rooms, and the multiple studios of E! News, we made our way over to the second building to learn a few things from the people who bring American Dad to television.

Of course,

there’s always one consistent theme in this industry.

Almost everyone we talked to got their job at the show because they knew a friend, or a friend or a friend, or a friend of a friend of a friend.

Networking, connecting, and building relationships is not a new lesson for me; it’s one that I’ve already learned and greatly appreciate.

But what took my by surprise today wasn’t just wonderful advice from amazing people.

It was their stories.

Two of the colorists (AKA the professional colorers who bring the animations to life, just with big people programs instead of crayons) had no idea animation is what they’d be doing with their lives.

One had a degree in art, the other started out as a painter.

But what they had in common?

This is where they are now, and they love their jobs.

An assistant director we crossed paths with, Dante, was not too much older than us. He went to school for engineering and quickly found an un-ignorable interest in design and animation. He changed majors, did a ton of internships, worked on The Simpsons, and now he’s here.

The director (below) of the show didn’t go to your typical four year university. He went to a trade school for two years and—well—now he’s the director.11209432_10204806094216343_5834323601143959094_n

Glenn, the person who puts the final touches/notes on the episodes before they’re sent out to air, acted as our hilarious and gregarious tour guide. We loved him.

When we reached the final destination of our tour—his office—he gave us a comical but serious spiel on “putting our social media shit down” and picking up a pencil or camera and actually creating something.

“No one actually cares how many likes you got on a picture of a fucking doughnut,” he said in his strong Northeastern (New Hampshire, to be specific) accent, which made it even funnier.

We laughed. Everyone’s done it. But we knew it was true, and so did he.

“Do it. Work hard now, while you’re young. Get ahead. You’ll thank yourself later.”

It was inspiring. But again, what took me by surprise was something different: how he got to where he is now.

He studied physical education in college. He moved out to LA some number of years ago and was a construction worker, worked in a mailroom, and did some other non-entertainment related work over the course of a few years.

Then someday, somehow, he got into this.

And just like the others—

he loves it.

Everyone’s story is different. Everyone’s experience varied.

But as for this chapter of their life?

They’ve all ended up on the same page.

What I learned and love, love, loved about today was this:

There is no linear path.

There is no right way or wrong way.

There is no straight way, no easy way, no one way.

There’s really only your way.

Point A doesn’t always connect to Point B. Sometimes A leads to F, and then to Z. Sometimes, someone starts at B, gets to S, and then they end up at Z. Some never even reach Z; they may find themselves at M, be completely content, and stop there.

The real “point” is that life is not a straight line.

I’m not talking difficulties and obstacles here, even though those count for something too. I’m talking about life; I’m talking about everyone’s calling and plan. I’m talking about your journey to that one special destination.

Your major is important. But it doesn’t determine where you end up.

Your first job is paramount. But it doesn’t mean that’s where you’ll be the rest of your life.

What you want now is huge. But it may not be what you want later.

And like myself and many others: You may know what you love to do, but you may not know exactly what you want right now.

And it’s scary. But it’s okay.

Your book is still being written; it’s always being written.

I believe that God leads us through places, people, and situations to get us to where we’re supposed to be.

You just have to be down for the ride.

Our job is this:

Start somewhere, make each page colorful, and keep flipping the page.

One day, you’ll end up at the back cover of the book.

And it’ll be beautiful, because it’s where you’re supposed to be.

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Day 338.