Assessing Your Life In Entertainment
For some, it seems not so long ago that the now 24/7 flow of information was delivered in packets of time throughout the day – morning television news, emails restricted to desktop computers, weekly newspapers, data transfers being wifi restricted… As time has passed and as we’ve continually adapted to simply keep up, we now find ourselves the vessels for this content that is quite literally overwhelming. We sustain and produce it by working long hours, six plus day weeks; we integrate our work into our lifestyles; simple and productive means such as emails on smartphones, which in fact, consumes so much of our personal time. Relocation for work has created limitless possibilities but threatens social bonds with friends and family. Increased productivity has created a new wave of ambitious, relentless worker – one who sacrifices rather than compromises.
I’m focusing on changing my own life, exploring alternative values and ways of creating a work-life balance within a world where the lines are more than blurred.
My story is not so different from anyone else’s.
I started working at the age of 13 (I lied about my age in order to get a job as soon as I could), at a suburban video store (the coolest job for a teenager by far) in Sydney. I worked all through high school and university, eventually moving into hospitality. “Hospo” offered cash flow during “off hours” so I could focus on working within my field during the week. I took on a handful of odd jobs: script editing and administration namely, while focusing on volunteer work in broadcasting. I landed some contract work with the community radio station called FBi Radio and I started working in Stage Management on the side. Things were busy, but this wasn’t enough. I picked up gigs in crewing to cover nights when I wasn’t at the bar to get as much experience as possible; I wanted to work as a Stage Manager at The House of Dancing Water in Macau. I gave up Radio and moved on to TV, working at the ABC and decided to go back to university. I studied languages as I didn’t really know what to do, but then decided to begin my Master degree in Acoustics.
Then, all of a sudden, it happened.
(And by all of a sudden I mean after one and a half years of back-and-forth emails trying to find the right timing and opportunity…) I moved to Macau—a three-month contract as an assistant stage manager turned in to a four-year work-life experience in Asia, leaving with having called one of the largest shows on Earth under my belt and the brutal realisation that I have nowhere to call “home”.
It all happened in a blink. Amidst all of the incredible adventures, new friendships, challenging workload and growth I had quite the defining experience in the East: during my third year in Macau I had an accident that resulted in a fractured spine and ankle.
For the first time in my life, I was forced to be still, to be alone and surrender to being incredibly dependent.
The six months following the accident were incredibly difficult, but full recovery found its way to me. The introspection granted to me by grace of time opened my thoughts to an onslaught of realisations. At the core of all of these realisations was that despite having maintained distant relationships fairly well, despite expanding my mind through much travel, despite having finally found a vocation I was incredibly passionate about, I was not happy.
Simply put: I’d forgotten to nourish the most important relationship of all, the relationship with myself.
Feeling quite disconnected from reality, I started to observe people in a different way; I realised that there were qualities in people that I admired, despised, loved or hated. I would think to myself that everyone shares the same qualities, they are just in varying expressive quantities and in varying “colours”. Using this idea as a foundation, I decided to be less concerned with what I didn’t like in others and more concerned with what I liked in them—being human means we have the propensity to adapt; I was working on further developing control over my emotions, thoughts, and body (it’s not a switch, it takes practice and conscious effort like learning any skill).
This connection with myself brought about many thoughts and I was confronted by a f*** tonne of insecurities that had been dormant for so long.
Yoga and meditation were a very useful tool for allowing these fears and negative thoughts to exist and be observed and addressed in a safe and measured way. The main thought that began to approach me was this:
“I’ve asked myself WHAT I want to become, but WHO do I actually want to be?”
Well, that was it, this opened the door to something I didn’t even conceive as possible. I pulled apart everything that I had come to know as myself, completely dismantling my identity and challenging my ego. I questioned every thought and action, every taste, like, drive and passion. I asked myself, “why do you like this band or that movie?”, “do you really care about the environment?”, “do you actually think kittens are cute?”, “do you really care about something someone you’ve never met?” ,“do you need anything money can buy?”, and “what do you want?!”.
Onslaught seems a little light now that I reflect on the number of thoughts speeding through my mind. I reminded myself to let these thoughts race by without grabbing them, let them evolve into their darkest forms or bloom into bursts of positivity, but never to dwell on either outcome. With time it all began to fall in to place.
I realised there were very few values that I actually genuinely aligned myself with, and I felt a little lost.
I reminded myself of the qualities I always prided myself on: namely integrity and authenticity, and if I was changing into something due to a call from my best self to also let that happen, even though it meant changing some behaviours and values I had come to define myself by. While ferociously endeavouring to be as genuine and honest as possible, I would sometimes find myself falling into old habits. This spurred the third big wave of thought:
“This is not the goal, the goal is in becoming this.”
This thought moved me in a direction I again didn’t quite foresee: I lost a large part of my professional and material ambitions. I no longer cared about where I was, who I worked for, what my title was, how much money I made, what I owned, what colour my socks were (I had a very hefty sock collection). I had used work to define every aspect of my life!
Everything fell apart, I was unravelled, until after a couple of months I asked myself again, WHO do you want to be? During this time I began connecting with my body through fitness, namely yoga, and a better diet (the diet due to a discovery of allergies to yeast and sugar cane, the reason behind a lifelong struggle with stomach pains and lethargy). I felt happiest when I had the time to nourish my body, so I decided to steer my career ambitions in a direction that would grant me TIME.
I stopped being so concerned about saving for this future self I wasn’t ready to become yet, and decided to save, so I could not work for extended periods—hilariously I would always complain about the instability of contract work, but by shifting my attention I began to understand that I could create quite a liberating life. During this process, I made some smaller changes, the most impactive was deleting my entire history from social media (it took MONTHS), and reassessing its place in my life.
I removed work emails from my phone and would always ask myself “is this what I want” before surrounding myself with people.
I took my anti-news position further and ensured I wasn’t exposed to anything that had to do with what I couldn’t control or had no effect over—I focused on those around me and put conscious energy into being nice to anyone who crossed my path, regardless of my mood. I was in this state for quite some time, before I was greeted with a fourth idea to explore, the one I am currently within.
“I am everything I need to be; I will never be more or less; I do not need anything or anyone outside of my self, my body, my thoughts.”
The above thought process has lead me to one word, a word that is governing my actions, my speech, my feelings, and ultimately my reaction to others and the world: intention.
I’m finishing this article on the precipice of a new work opportunity that will again take me away from Sydney; the place I grew up the first time, with the knowledge that my development now exists outside of the world. As long as I continue to pay attention to that feeling in my gut, the answer to the question “does this make me happy?”, I will ensure I’m filling my life with things and people that bring me joy, and thus only output happiness for others to feed off—because although the self must always come first, I’m being the change I want to see in others.