As I get older, the person who I want to be becomes clearer.
All my life I’ve dreamed of working in movies, directing short films and eventually features. Teenage Josh had vision. Big dreams. I’ll always remember something one of my best friends once said to me during high school:
Josh, I really admire how you know exactly what you want to do with your life. It’s taken me years to figure out my own purpose.
I embraced that statement with pride. Most of my friends had no freakin’ clue what they wanted to be. Maybe a doctor, lawyer, the Asian stereotype. Many just wanted to have fun and live in the moment. But not Josh. Even as a teen, my train had one destination. Anything outside my goal was an unnecessary distraction.
For the past ten years, I clutched so tightly to my dreams that I lost them. Filmmaking became a chore. I used to make films out of passion; now I made them to advance my career. Funny thing is, when you make films to advance your career, they don’t.
A few days ago, I had a surprisingly honest conversation with Ien, the creative director of Jubilee Media. We chatted about what we wanted in life. I don’t remember what we said word-for-word, but here’s our dialogue paraphrased:
I used to want to be a director. But now I realized I was in love with the “idea” of being a director, rather than actually directing.
Yeah, I mean, everyone wants to be Christopher Nolan…
…or Steven Spielberg, exactly! It’s the honor, the glory associated with the title that makes it so damn attractive. Now at Jubilee, I probably direct my own content thirty percent of the time.
That’s not a lot.
It isn’t. It’s not the role I thought I’d be playing. But it’s so incredibly fulfilling. I’m creating communities, building connections with real people. I used to want one specific thing, to direct my own movies. Now my life goals are less specific, and they could look like a number of things. I’m open to different experiences that may not align with what I imagined myself doing, but they align with the person I want to become.
The realization hit me. I used to be disappointed with myself when I wasn’t working toward “my dream.” Feeding the homeless doesn’t help me become a director. Going to Bible study doesn’t help me become a director. Only doing director-ish things helps me do that, and that’s a pretty narrow-minded way of living.
I no longer need to be a director. For the first time in ten years, I can safely say that. I’ve just been fooling myself this whole time, not wanting to let teen Josh’s dreams down. I still love telling stories, in whatever form that takes. I don’t need the accolades or affirmation. Being the truest version of myself is enough.
In fact, by admitting I don’t need to be a director allows me to freely say I want to be one! I want to make movies! It’s fun! I love it! My sense of self-worth doesn’t hinge on whether I become Ridley Scott or not, that’s stupid. But through films I can express my self-worth. And that’s awesome.
Gee, I haven’t blogged in a while. There are A LOT of thoughts that I need to get out so expect more on the way. I’m stuck on a cruise ship right now and paying $119 bucks for a week’s worth of internet is totally worth it.