a search for purpose

A guest post by Chad Davis

When I was a kid I wanted to be a veterinarian, just like my uncle. I had always loved animals of all different kinds, and so the decision seemed to fit. After a few years of concentrating myself intensely on one day becoming a veterinarian—all before the age of 12, no less—I realized I no longer wished to become one. It was then I decided I wanted to become an architect—after all, drawing was always one of my fortes, so the awe I felt while looking at Chicago sky scrapers as a kid naturally led me to designing buildings with a mere pencil and paper.

The thought of it was thrilling to me, to have my name printed onto the side of the world’s next most interesting and new age office building or home, and so once again I focused my energies on honing my drawing skills and learning as much math as a young adolescent could bear. Once I reached the summer before my senior year in high school, I had taken advanced math courses up to Calculus II and was all set to go on my first hands-on experience with architecture at a program sponsored by none other than Notre Dame’s School of Architecture—needless to say, I was very excited.

That excitement lasted all of a week. Once I had come to understand the grueling pain of the architecture student’s daily grind and the unwillingness of professors to teach, let alone examine, the work of contemporary wonders such as Frank Lloyd Wright, I began to hate the idea of architecture school because of the lack of creativity an architect is allowed to have—whether as newly hired lacky working for a well-known partnership or a student for a prestigious university, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be ignored for your out-of-the-box ideas until you’ve created the same boring stuff everybody told you to design in the first place.

So, I no longer was interested in architecture simply because I didn’t want to play the game one must end up playing just to design one or two buildings the way you want them to be designed—in other words, it wasn’t a great way to express the creativity that had driven my interest in architecture in the first place. Maybe I was too impatient and unwilling to give it a try, but it didn’t matter to me then. I became disillusioned and so walked away from becoming an architect.

That’s about the time I went to college (to a much less prestigious university than Notre Dame) and started deeply exploring what I wanted to do with my creative energies. In the first two years of undergrad, I traversed the realm of video game production only to find the nightmares therein. Then, I switched gears and focused on film and video production, finding somewhat of a happy home in post-production and screenwriting. But still, I couldn’t help feeling that same banal resentment when I interned at a post-house in LA.

And then one day while standing atop the Hollywood Hills (where all the rich folk live and covet everybody else’s Lamborghini or decked-out Prius), I had an epiphany. As I stood there next to a chain-link fence overlooking dozens of what I could only begin to fathom to be hundreds upon hundreds of million dollar homes and the grayed, less-than-impressive LA cityscape, I realized that I couldn’t care less about having a home in the Hollywood Hills. I couldn’t care less if my future car ever acquired one or more dents or scratches in its unimportant, metallic surface. I couldn’t care less if my name was ever as recognizable as, say, Robert Downey Jr’s.

I only cared, as I always have cared, about one thing: expressing who I am.

After realizing this, I returned home after another month or so working in LA, finished up my last year in college studying things like Buddhahood, sustainability, and more screenwriting, and then I graduated, all the while searching for any post-production job to which I could apply. I heard back from maybe ten places out of forty, all of which replied, “No, thanks.” And so here I am today.

Now before you start feeling too down on either yourself or me, I never said I was unhappy. Sarcastic, maybe, but I am very happy. After all of my failures and disillusionments with trying to find a career, I realized something entirely more important when my friend said to me, “What’s a job anyway other than an expression of who you are?”

That’s when I realized that I had been trying to tell this to myself all along. Why break my back over things that ultimately do not express my passions? Why become anything that you truly don’t care about instead of something already love? And so, I began writing. A lot. And I haven’t stopped since.

Perhaps that’s a sign that I’m finally doing something that I feel inspired to do, that I can do everyday, and that expresses my feelings, thoughts, and emotions as freely as they come and go. After years of focusing so intensely on one skillset after another, I have finally learned to let go of constantly wanting to be something or somebody else—I’ve learned to instead be more in touch with my passions and allow them to freely come and go as a writer, an editor, an artist, a philosopher, a friend, an uncle.

All of these roles are nothing more than that, a role. When I start to feel that my role defines me, all I must do is remind myself that without me the role is dead. Without the expression of myself, the role is meaningless.

Is that to say no job is satisfying for me? No, of course not. The job is no longer the end game; in fact, the job is no longer a “job” but rather an expression of something that comes from deep within. For instance, right now I make small income working as a tele-researcher, and although it may sound incredibly thrilling, it can drag on after the fourth hour on the clock.

However, I enjoy it. Why? Because I get to talk to people all day! I love talking to people, albeit shortly and mostly on script, but that’s ok. And that’s the point, to see it as ok, to see the “job” as an opportunity to express who you are. That’s why I write, draw, edit, and bother people on the phone. It doesn’t matter if you’re Robert Downey Jr or the average Joe—you deserve to be you no matter what the setting is.

So don’t beat yourself up if you’re not the best drummer, accountant, or doctor—simply remind yourself that your job is not you, you are expressing yourself through your job—own it, be it, and express who you are the way you truly see fit.

About the Author

Chad Davis is an aspiring writer of non-fiction, fiction, and screenplays. More than anything, Chad is an ever-learning and growing human being. You can see more of his work at his own blogsite: ChadleyDavis.blogspot.com.

One Response to a search for purpose

  1. Noch Noch | be me. be natural. June 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    it’s all a learning process… thanks for reminding us :)
    Noch Noch