Feeling Far Away From Myself

The past year has been a whirlwind. By this time in 2017, I had placed in one screenwriting contest for the London Film Awards and made it to the Top Ten in ScriptFest. If you had told me then that I would advance in several more and win another by the time the year was up, I’d probably think you’d gone mad. In addition to that, I was asked to be part of the development team for a television show scheduled to pitch to major networks. All the time and effort I had been spending on my writing was paying off with tremendous opportunity and honestly, in a shorter timespan than most spend in their pursuit of a Hollywood career. I was closer to becoming a professional screenwriter than I previously believed was even possible for me just a few short years ago. And I yet I felt incredibly far away from myself. Now, I know that might sound quite confusing so let me try to explain.

I started writing for myself. I think that’s how most writers start. As I explained in a recent post about what I write about, it’s typically something that is in one way or another personal to me. Again, I'm sure this applies to most writers. And it’s still something that I enjoy. Or else, well, I wouldn’t be doing it. When I was asked to be a part of the aforementioned development team for a television show I think is going to be a future obsession of millions of viewers, I was excited and honored to come aboard and promised to give it my best. For a while, the rush of a new challenge and a new project fueled hours of research and writing constructing the world and the characters with the other members of my team. It became the project I focused all my creative attention on because I truly believe it will be phenomenal. But as I dedicated more time and energy on this television show, the harder it became for me to produce quality work after the initial high wore off. I would be sat at my desk willing myself to put something – anything – on to the page to get things going. I couldn’t do it. That 100% I promised was not going to be fulfilled if I couldn’t get past that blinking cursor. After struggling for a few weeks, I knew that this was not going to work. I did not want this project to suffer because of me nor did I want to suffer in trying to force it. So, I bowed out and it was not an easy thing for me to do or to even articulate the reasons why other than it really and truly felt wrong. It felt like I was moving further away from something else that I am meant for. Luckily, the leader of the development team was understanding and respectful of my decision with no negativity whatsoever.

You might still have a question mark over your head. I did for a while, too. While I knew then just as I know now that it was the right choice for me to make, it defied any sort of logic for anyone who knows how much I want to be a professional writer and share the stories I want to tell with the world. And in my terrible tendency to overthink, my brain was going a million miles an hour with questions like:

What are you going to do now? What were you thinking, you idiot? Don’t you want to move to Los Angeles? What if another opportunity like this doesn’t come up? Weren’t these the exact studios you wanted to get in front of? What if you miss your shot? What will people think about you bailing on this? What if this was a mistake?

And on and on and on. But the most important question, and possibly the hardest one for me to answer, was “Why?” Why did I feel so out of alignment when things seemed to be lining up? After some tearful soul-searching that resulted from being trapped in a moving metal box with my mom, the answer was clear. In hindsight, it should have been obvious the whole time because the symbol of my “why” literally tattooed on my hand:

Family.

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Inked on the inside of my right ring finger is a latte stone upon which ancient Chamorros would erect their houses. They were the foundations of their family homes and still have significant meaning to the those who trace their ancestry back to the Marianas. Instead of the Guam seal, a tropical flower, or the island itself, I chose the latte stone and its placement on my body as a visual reminder to myself that the foundation for what I do in my creative pursuits and in my life, in general, is rooted in my family. As I looked around, there were more and more signs of exactly where my heart truly is everywhere in my environment put there by me – from the background on my computer screen at work, the vision board frames in my bedroom, to the wallpaper on my iPhone. How was it not clear as crystal to me before that in pushing forward on this particular television project, I was losing sight of what is most important to me in more ways than one? I had allowed myself to focus on what I thought I needed to do to be successful instead of focusing on what I know makes me happy both here in the present moment and will continue to do so in the future.

Does this mean I’m giving up on being a writer and screenwriter? Absolutely not. If it did, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. This website wouldn’t exist. But it does mean that I have done some assessing of my priorities and adjusting of my goals and methods of achieving them which is exactly what I needed to do before I continued to add momentum toward a life I thought I wanted but the pursuit of which would drain me of my ability to achieve it.

Have you ever found yourself battling between your brain and your heart when it comes to your career or life path? If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation, how did you come to a decision on what to do? What did you learn as a result? Let me know in the comments below.