The Path of the Beam

photo // Shawn Bannon

Being a blogger makes me overly sensitive to internet trends. There is one in particular that begs discussion, one that I’ve noticed more and more recently. With the rise of entrepreneurial culture, there is this proliferation of the idea that if you pursue your dreams with vigor you will get what you want. It is The American Dream. Work hard and you shall prosper. It’s a nice idea, isn’t it? But lets get serious for a second. It’s just not true. Now let that sink in for a second. The truth is that you do have to work hard to get what you want but working hard does not guarantee anything.

First, I’m not trying to be the harbinger of bad news nor am I trying to stomp on your dreams. It just seems we all need a good dose of reality. Second, I’m not saying that you can’t live your dream in some fashion. Besides, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who actually gets exactly what you want.

Mostly I’m wondering about this idea that people have a singular life goal. How many people really have this one true passion they must follow for happiness? Is that something that comes to you in a flash of light or a dream? Is it the love you feel when you first do something new that you think you could do for the rest of your life? I personally have so many loves like that. Whenever I go on a bike ride I’m filled with a sense of elation, but that doesn’t mean I want to become a professional cyclist. There is something diminishing in turning a love into a career. This reason alone is why I’ve never turned this blog into my profession.

Very soon, I’m directing my first short film. The first since I was in college and I made “video art.” The first since I was a teenager and had to edit videos on dual VHS decks. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m terrified. Part of me has always wanted this. Part of me has always been afraid of this. I can’t tell you if my perpetual trepidation is a result of me not wanting to let go of other interests or if it is because I’m am unsure of myself and the possibility of failure. Despite the fact that I’ve produced a feature film, making this short is somehow much harder for me.

Making it in the entertainment industry is hard. That goes without saying. Of course, it’s even harder as a woman. Only 5% of the top 250 grossing films of 2011 were directed by women. I just love movies. While some have always known they want to be a writer or director, I’m not absolutely tied to any one piece of filmmaking. There are about 10 thousand different people that have a part of making a film, many of which I’d be happy doing (many I would not). My trajectory is not so much a clear path. It involves a lot of trying things out. It involves a lot of working really hard at something and realizing that it’s not what I want at all (the number of times this has happened is embarrassing).

Yet, I still have hope. I’ll admit sometime it is wavering. I believe that I will find my place, where there is actually a connection, or at least a balance, between what I do for a living and what makes me happy.

What do you think? Are you following your passion career? Do you even have one? Can you imagine yourself being happy with something else?

13 Responses to “The Path of the Beam”
  1. anna says:

    i think about this quite often. i know that i feel better when i am doing something creative for a living, however, it can be soul crushing. for example, 98% of the time clients destroy what we design. overall, i’m glad to be paid to design, but sometimes it feels like.. why am i even here if everything i work so hard on is just going to be ruined? anyway, my specific area of design (entertainment) is not what i set out to do and is not where i will stay for the rest of my life, but i know that i will probably always need to have a creative job to feel like i’m doing something right.

    • miss alix says:

      yes there is always the aspect of things being ruined by being a job. there has to be some bad element, even if you love what you do. i will definitely agree that creativity is key for me as well in order to be happy in what i’m doing.

  2. I am 1000% with you! And this is something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. When I quit my dayjob, the Big Plan was to focus my energy on growing my crafty business, but the more I grew, the more I felt unfulfilled. I think it’s like what you said about riding bikes. I don’t see anything wrong with trying things, shifting gears, or even with failing. The meme you’re talking about worries me, too, and I think social media plays a big part in it. Not many folks are Facebooking about our doubts and failures, and it makes it seem like everyone but you has it all figured out. Not YOU you, but the universal you. 🙂

    • miss alix says:

      i agree it is misleading for people read so often about people’s successes. not that these stories aren’t important, they are a great kick in the butt for many people, but most people don’t fit into the description they are often reading about. it’s just as important to examine what doesn’t work as what does.

  3. PS – Nice Dark Tower reference!

  4. Hi Alix. I love your About pic. Cute.

    I think you have good points. But.

    There is a bunch of people who do multiple things, they ride bikes for money and they code sites for money. Or they write for blogs and sell art on etsy or in galleries. Those fun people like to call themselves Multipotentials and I think I’m one of them.
    I paint, I illustrate a bit, I code websites. I’m not JUST a web designer.
    I’ve always wanted to do creative things and get paid for it.
    I’m not sure if I know anyone who has just one passion.

    I think that those posts about “making it happen” based on passion touch broad spectrum of topics. My passion is to create and I’m making it happen. I’m supporting myself, so i’m calling it a success.
    I would not make it happen just my painting. Not yet. I hope to, at some point.
    Maybe, it’s not about the passion, but about the “energy’ behind all the passions that one is using for making money.

    There is this fun blog : Puttylike : and I haven’t visit Emily for quite a while, but she is talking about it a lot. Doing many thing-S and making it happen.

    Also, Barbara Sher writes about it.
    Once I’ve decided to embrace multiple interest and found a common denominator, I felt relieved. I have a basket of skills/likes and they are my forte. All of them.
    Sometimes I get lost within certain group, but knowing that I DON’T have to choose one and based my work-life on it serve me well.

    Hope it helps. Thank you for this post!

  5. Rachelle says:

    I have so many thoughts about this whole thing but I’ll try to keep it brief.

    For the sake of understanding, a quick rundown of my history – I went to school for advertising, worked in event planning and volunteer management for a non-profit, went to grad school for accounting and now I work at a CPA firm. I have also worked in a fabric store, a clothing store, a bank, two law firms and a brewery.

    I’ve realized that there are a lot of things I enjoy about doing almost anything, and things I don’t like about doing almost anything. I’ve realized that things like hours, stress, coworkers, autonomy…even things like being able to wear sandals or see out a window while I work all affect me just like the actual work itself does. I’ve realized that doing something I like but being really, really broke makes me not like doing that thing as much. I’ve realized that making a ton of money at something boring and easy is not for me.

    In a lot of ways, I wish that I was good at or enjoyed fewer things (that sounds so cocky – trust me, I’m bad at lots of things too). I’ve always envied the people who have a clear “thing” that they do, that they are known for. To me, it seems easier but I guess probably it isn’t.

    I think the internet has a vibe right now that the goal is to “live your dream” and be able to blog about something you like all day while making money or to become famous very quickly with a YouTube video. I don’t think that’s going to last forever but I don’t think we’ll go back to where we were before either. It’s sort of exciting and scary at the same time.

    • miss alix says:

      oh my gosh this exactly exactly exactly. i’ve had so many different sorts of jobs from working at art galleries to wardrobe for movies to accounting to baking cakes. obviously it would be grand if we could all live our dreams but a) that’s not realistically possible and b) perhaps you don’t know what your dream is until you’ve found it.

  6. i truly believe as artists we need to create regardless of the outcome and the response, if the process itself is fulfilling, it’s worth it. good luck to you!

  7. I love that you are opening up this discussion. I totally agree that the internet, particularly bloggers, glamorizes following your dream and everything will work out. For every success story out there, there are countless people hustling without reaching their goal. The success stories are inspiring and definitely have their place, but they need to be put into context instead of seeming like the norm.

    All my life I found that people responded better if I appeared to have a specific career path in mind. Peers that were ambiguous with their plans never seemed to receive as much positive feedback as I did when I laid out my career map. So instead of experimenting a bit with what options I might enjoy, I have always approached my career with blinders on because I liked feeling in control and getting good responses from people. Recently I’m realizing this might have actually held me back and put unneeded pressure on me. I’m now stepping back and looking at options now, which feels a little too late. But then I remind myself that I am young (even if I don’t feel like it) and have many careers ahead of me.

  8. Caitlin says:

    This IS a great conversation! I have so many interests, and I admit that I read so many blogs and it does make me feel that I would be happier working for myself at home, with my own business. But I went to school for a long time, and am getting very close to working in the field I have been working so hard to break into. I have great benefits, and a ton of student debt, so starting a business or working for myself isn’t really realistic right now.

    I think that having my own blog and making my jewelry when I have the time, is a nice way to balance my need for a creative outlet with the desire to continue with my career path. I am trying to make myself do yoga and meditate to be more grateful for the present. And try to remember that (hopefully!) life is long and I will have lots of time to try out all my interests.

    Best of luck Alix!

  9. Diana Taylor says:

    So true and yes a great conversation. I could write forever on this. And becoming a mother just turns everything even more upside down. And makes me think about this ALL THE TIME. Regardless, Im still trying to figure out my passions and find creativity in my current “job”. It can be tough!
    p.s. Way to actually go for it and make that short film. I would love to see your full length. How do I go about doing that?
    p.s.s. we were just in LA helping out with a project my sister was working on. It was fun! She also makes movies. If you want to check it out her website is

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