The headlines never fail to report that employment options for my graduating class seem harder than ever before. I can remember fondly back to high school, when the economic crisis first hit in 2008. I was sitting in my English class thinking about how hard it would be for those graduating seniors in college to find jobs. “Thank God,” I thought “that by the time I’m graduating this whole mess will be resolved.” Here we are – the year 2013 – and I as I plan to leave school employment options seem slimmer and grimmer.
So naturally among my peers a certain kind of despondence has settled in. There is a unspoken depression behind their seemingly hopeful eyes. We all are working on meaningful projects, for now. We are enjoying our classes, for now. But we all carry seeds of doubt about what might await us on the other side of that graduation stage. With diploma in hand will we thrive or starve?
I’ve always known it would be difficult. Filmmaking is a feast and famine industry with very difficult and limited options of entry. There will be day jobs (if I am lucky) and there will be periods where the famine seems to outreach the feasting. This is the nature of my industry – with or without recession. So I try to keep a basic perspective that it is going to be hard – and that it is okay that it is going to be hard. We don’t require comfort to thrive.
What opportunities might I pursue next year in New York? Whatever I can find to enrich my life and the lives of those around me. I will try to find ways to meaningfully add value to my community. I will try and fit into the division of labor the best way that I can. At times the standard of living may be poor and the going may be tough, but slowly and surely I know that my generation will figure out how to innovate and produce meaningful contributions.
I guess what I’m saying is that I will do my best to refuse to participate in the bleak hopelessness that I’ve seen swallow up some of my favorite people. I’ve been there. I’ve confronted the darkness of doubt and weakness many times before. What I learned in confronting those blue periods was that we are all so much stronger than we think we are. That by remaining mindful of the present – we are capable of tapping into a nearly unlimited wellspring of beauty and hope. So many of the demons that plague us exist inside our own minds.
At the base of all of this is simple insecurity. Insecurity is one of the most dreadful things that we as human beings can really struggle to come to terms with. What we fail to realize though is that insecurity is the basic state of all nature. Any kind of financial, career, or health security is ultimately illusory. We are all capable of losing everything in any given moment. Recognition of this fact means may mean total panic but acceptance of this fact can mean total peace.
We can only very minutely control the world. The world is outside of us. The world is subject to the will of all our peers and the natural conditions of the world. What we can control is our attitudes. We can control our willingness to adapt. We can control our basic joy at being alive. And we can control how we react and respond to our moments of physical and emotional pain.
I will choose to do the best that I can with the time that I have to live the most meaningful life that I can. And I hope that my friends and colleagues will choose to do the same. If we march forward into the uncertain future with the courage to smile – I think we might be alright in the end.