Giving Thanks for Work Life Balance
Us Video & Film Guys Are a Strange Lot.
We work insane hours. We work on new skills, read about the latest trends, watch the work of the masters, learn software, make connections. We travel across the globe for weeks at a time. The profession consumes every thought. Film school teaches us to immerse ourselves in the craft. Eat. Sleep. Drink. All film all the time.
I was just that for many years. Approaching two decades from what I’d call the “start” of my career. I spent nights configuring cameras, shooting tests, working during any free time on side projects in VFX to try to sharpen my post skills. Hardly any sleep. I remember too many times, sitting at a red light in traffic and just closing my eyes ever so slightly, wishing for sleep.
Many of my production peers are afraid to have hobbies, to get married, to have a family. Afraid to balance their life. It has been ingrained in our psyche that a true career man doesn’t have time for family. (This is less of a production person issue and more of a cultural thing). It’s more common than not to hear others ‘bragging’ about how late they worked, or how many weekends they put in last month. It’s a form of complaining mixed with positive attention seeking. We all try to outdo each other.
It took a toll on my health. I was eating absolute garbage. No possible way to workout. I gained 30 pounds over many years. I was making good money but it’s never enough. Never a big enough job, never enough prestige. I was chasing something I was never sure I would achieve.
What turned my world upside down was my son, born just over a year ago today. It sounds like a movie, a cheesy script that you wouldn’t care to read. It’s true. It was my own Overview Effect. If you’re not familiar turn to Wikipedia:
It refers to the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, “hanging in the void”, shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this “pale blue dot” becomes both obvious and imperative.
He gave me a new outlook on life. It ignited a new fire under me. I’m seeing the world through new eyes as I experience it through him. Just as any good writer will tell you the importance of going out to experience the world, re-prioritizing your life around someone you love can be one of the biggest life experiences. As a production creative, I’ve always been childish at heart, and this in a way validates that haha.
My new found work/life balance has given me a breath of fresh air in how I approach things.
I’m not trying to “push” having a family or anything like that. Everyone is different. But enough I have talked to are scared of what it would do to their career, even though when you press the issue, they want to work less.
Best wishes to all for whatever and whoever you celebrate in your life. Take a moment to look at the people around you that support you and your crazy career.