I've been spending this entire summer preparing, shooting, and editing my show for NBC Asian-America. It's been a tumultuous and turbulent season for me. Most mornings, I'm greeted by overwhelming levels of anxiety, so much so that it pushes me outside my door and onto these aimless walks around the neighborhood or drives around Los Angeles. Up until this summer, I've never taken on a task that's consumed so much of me. It's a sacrifice, pouring myself out every single day, finding the courage and strength to finish well.
Long hours, sleepless nights, juggling three or four different projects. I find refuge and comfort in cafes, surrounding myself with people and coffee so that I don't lose my sanity. Going through this season and process, it's been the most exhausting and tiring months of my life. My balance is completely whack, my priorities are completely out of order, and my values have been challenged daily.
Yet... Working on this project has been rewarding on so many levels. I scrub through these 1-2 hour interviews probably 50+ times, each bit of wisdom and language breathing life to a decayed and neglected artistic soul, each sentence rooting itself deeper.
Currently, I'm editing my 3rd episode. The subject is Taz Ahmed, an activist, politico, writer, podcaster, poet, visual artist, etc.-- Jason, my host, just refers to her as an all-around "creative." I don't want to get too much into the details of what she discusses, but one of the things she mentions is how she began her career as an artist through blogging and writing. She shares that the publicizing of her process and journey was such an essential part of her solidifying her identity as an artist. At times she hesitated and thought whether publicly confessing her thoughts and allowing people in was healthy, but in the long-run, thats what art is: the outward expression of one's story.
I haven't been writing and blogging lately. And it's hurt me in more ways than I recognized. Truth is, writing has always been the most honest expression of myself. I've often thought about what I would say when all this is over. I realize that's stupid. I realize that the journey and the process has always been just as important as the end result. Thus, I've decided to take the words that Taz fought to gain through her own journey, words that inspire me, and bring them into action by committing to publicly expressing my journey through this period, and the future to come.
Also, I'm tired of having to explain myself to people. I'm tired of catering to people, having to muster up a front in order to accommodate social etiquette. I've always been more eloquent and honest through words, through letters, and by the poetry I kept locked away since I was 12.
This is my first intentional step, an effort to be earnest in my journey to find my voice.
Today, somebody asked me what steps I took to get to where I'm at in my career, how I got to where I am. I hesitated, because I couldn't give a clear or confident answer. Truth is, I don't believe in my work-ethic. Often times, I really shit on myself because I don't think I have enough discipline or excellence in the things that I do.
As of now, I have all of these really crazy opportunities, opportunities with huge clients, huge names, huge execs, and huge possibilities waiting on the other side of this chapter. It's exciting, everyones happy, I'm happy, I'm stoked.
But truth is, I'm scared. Breathing breaks in my car, searching for God somewhere underneath all the panic as I realize that I have so much more at stake. Everyday I have more to lose, everyday I risk failing even more.
Truth is, I feel lucky more than I do successful. The only answer I confidently gave was that it was my community that brought me here. The love, the support, the accountability to remind me who I am and what I'm called to. They poured themselves out and went out of their way to believe in me, and the opportunities that I gained were a result of their faith. That's the most honest answer I could give.
Truth is, this was just a dream, that became an idea, that became a hobby, that somehow worked out. Everything I thought about, everything I imagined with God and prayed for is starting to manifest itself. And what was once a dream is starting to become more real. And maybe it's spoiled to say, but I fear it. It's everything I wanted, but now I'm scared of it.
I was driving home today thinking about this. Having repetitive conversations with God in the car about self, about faith, about life. I remembered this Bill Johnson quote I scribbled in my journal when I was 19 and in Korea. He spoke about how God withheld promises in our lives sometimes because we didn't have the character and integrity to steward that promise. Around this time last year, I quit my full-time job and went full-force freelance. It was an experiment and a test to see the limits of my growth and character. I look back on this year, one of the most difficult years of my life, so much so that I still get emotional as I write and think about it now.
When it comes down to it, when I look back in hindsight... I'm grateful. I realize that quote I scribbled in my journal for when I was 19, and the lesson that I learned then, has nothing to do with God and myself right now. I've earned everything that I've fought for. Even throwing weak-ass hands is still fighting, compared to laying dead and getting beat. I'm in this position because I have strength to steward success, because the task at hand isn't too large that I'd be set to fail.
Pressure builds more and more. It's almost 1am right now. I have to wake up at 6 to drive to West LA for my temp job as a Jr. Producer at Wonderful Agency. I also have a dinner with my new client Pepsi. I think about running away a lot. Like... It'd be really nice to go to Vietnam and just backpack. It's totally affordable.
But I'm locked into a promise that rests in the eternal. And I'm locked into the hope and love of the people that have fought for me to get here. So I choose to have faith today. Not in myself, because all I have right now is a vessel filled with self-doubt and fear. But faith in God, faith in my friends, faith in my family-- I choose to believe your word over my insecurity, your trust over my doubt.
"As long as someone was listening, I knew it was a start." -Wyclef
So here's my start. I'll make you all proud.