When it all goes not according to plan

First some art, cuz I always feel bad when I post but don’t have any art to show.

Snow Day

Next, a general announcement: I changed the permalinks on my blog. If anyone’s linking to specific entries, your old links should work as far as I know, but you might want to change them in any case.

Okay, now for the real entry!

Ah, let me tell you guys. The last eight months have been quite the roller coaster ride. A slow, boring, yet disproportionately frightening roller coaster ride. Not too many twists, turns or stomach-flipping plummets, but plenty of screams and the silent fear of falling or losing limbs.

In fact, the only real surprise on this ride that warrants a few screams of terror happened last week. I quit my job. I’ve got two weeks left, but it’s a sure thing, now. Next Thursday is my last day.

But really, the most surprising (and amusing) part of all this is just how freaked out my sister seems to be. Last week when I told her I was going to quit, she told me “no, you’re not.” The next day when I told her I handed in my two weeks’ notice, she didn’t believe me. Just now I was e-mailing her about some ideas I have for the next few months—ideas that have nothing to do with my job, FYI—and she replies back, “Did you decide not to quit your job?”

Whoa, sis, calm down. You’re not allowed to be more freaked out about this than I am.

…Am I freaked out? A little. Perhaps a lot (those that know me well are aware that my emotional range is somewhere between inanimate object and Ben Stein). You’re supposed to have a job. That’s what adulthood is. More than any other thing that might present itself in your life, you’re always always supposed to have a job. And now… I don’t have one. Yeah, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

I’m mostly freaked out that I had a plan… and it backfired. I’m not used to that. I’m all for spontaneity (within reason), but I’m a planner at heart. I like a good plan. I decide what I want to do, I figure out how I’m going to do it, then I do it, and then it’s DONE. End of story. It’s a skill I honed as a public relations student at my last school. I live by the code of R.P.I.E. 1. Research. 2. Plan. 3. Implement. 4. Evaluate.

My life was all going according to plan. Hood, and my life after Hood, were actually Plan B. Seeing that Plan B had worked successfully, it was time to go back to Plan A. 1. Research art schools. 2. Get accepted to art school. 3. Graduate from art school. 4. Get art job (the quality of the job serves to evaluate the success of the plan, you see).

That’s just what I did. I went to a kick-ass art school. I learned some kick-ass skills. I got a kick-ass internship. I made a kick-ass film and got a kick-ass degree. The next step was to get a kick-ass job.

That’s where my plan started to break down. No one was hiring me. No one was even calling me back. What was happening to my plan? I panicked. I needed a job—that was the next step in the plan. That was the whole point of the plan. I couldn’t not have the job. So, I got a not-so-kick-ass job while I took time to evaluate and figure out a new plan.

I like a good plan. I apply the rules to pretty much every aspect of my life. I want to go see a movie. 1. Research movies. 2. Plan a day, time, friends, and transportation to see movie. 3. See the movie. 4. Discuss movie with friends afterward. Works so well, doesn’t it?

But every now and then, I find that a plan isn’t the answer. It’s too constraining. It needs to be revised midway through, or scrapped altogether. 1. Research movies. 2. Plan a day, time, friends, and transportation to see movie. 3. Friend or friends can’t make it… but friend’s friends want to come instead. 4. Our second car is in the shop, can we fit eight people in one car? 5. Why are we going on a Thursday? Let’s go on Friday. 6. No let’s go to the theater downtown, it has stadium seats. 7. That movie’s got an 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, let’s see this movie instead. 8. Cry a lot, then throw the plan out and hope for the best.

In cases like these, as I’m revising and revising a plan to make it work, I find that my priorities might change. What I wanted at the start isn’t always what I want by the end. “Wow, that movie got an 8% rating?? Well… I still kinda want to see it (I love a good bad movie), but sure, let’s go see the other movie instead.” Sometimes, I’m very disappointed when a plan fails. Other times… the change turned out to be for the better.

And still other times, I have to throw out the plan and construct an entirely new one. Untested. Unsafe. Sometimes no plan is going to work, and I’m just going to have to plow forward without one. That’s even scarier.

The bottom line is that the plan—the plan for my life—as it was, was not working. Even worse, it was making me unhappy. I’m sure I’ve felt more miserable at some point in my life (I can think of a few periods at Ringling off the top of my head). But in the last few weeks, it’s been hard to remember a time I was more miserable than this.

And that’s when I remembered the reason for all the planning. It’s because I don’t want to be miserable anymore. I’ve got misery down to an art. It’s old hat. It’s boring, and I really don’t need any more of it. Let’s try something new and exciting. Let’s try happiness. I want to wake up every single day with the energy, determination, and cheer to face whatever comes at me. That’s why I went to Ringling: so that I never have to choose misery over happiness ever again.

And so, what’s next? Well, I’m going to take a gamble. The old plan was making me miserable. So, I’m going to go with a new plan. It’s untried, untested… by me, at least. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I don’t know where I’m going to end up.

Am I freaked out? A little (or a lot). But it’s okay. If the plan doesn’t work… I can always revise it. Or scrap it. Or just come up with a new one.

3 thoughts on “When it all goes not according to plan

  1. We wish the best for you Nilah! I’m very surprised that no one has call you back, this needs to change. You need to have your named credited to another great film!
    Good luck with this life change. =)

    -Nicole

  2. What can I say except congratulations again! If nothing else, misery bred courage, and that courage’ll let you branch out there and start trying out things that no one (or very few people) are doing right now. And that’s what we need for the world to evolve, isn’t it? New and fresh ideas from courageous and passionate people.

    It can be terrifying to just leap out there trusting in your skills, talent, and having faith that things will turn out all right, especially for someone who’s a planner by nature. You did it anyway. That’s something to be proud of. As always, I’m rooting for you. I’ll be doing whatever I can from my little corner of the universe to lift you up when you need it and help search for your pathway and mine. Toss that hat up in the air, we’re gonna make it after all :P

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