Students do not choose Emerson with the hope of getting a job that simply pays the bills (not that there is anything inherently wrong with that mentality—it’s just not one held by many acting BFAs I know). Instead, Emerson is a school driven by passion.
We flock here from all over the country to perfect our crafts among other equally motivated artists. We want to make movies, write novels, pen screenplays—we dream big. And the reason behind the notoriously intense Emerson work ethic seems like it should be pretty self-explanatory: We work hard because we love what we do.
But it’s not that simple. While it is incredibly important to be dedicated to your art, it is crucial that it’s not at the cost of making your passion into a chore. When you’re at a school like Emerson, you’re forced to push yourself. You can no longer dilly — dally with a story for a couple months until it’s just right—your workshop professor wants it in a week. And that change—from doing something because you want to, to doing something because you have to—can mess with your head.
I have felt, firsthand, what it’s like to fall out of love with my passion. When I first visited Emerson the summer after my junior year of high school, I was a film kid. Not just a film kid, but a Saturday class, taking, IB Film student, internship at the American Film Institute movie maniac. It really wasn’t a good look.
What started as a genuine passion quickly became something I dreaded — and I did it to myself. Not because I overloaded myself on film extracurriculars, but because I let my mentality when it came to cinema change. That was the moment I wasn’t watching films on my own accord, but because my teacher was telling me I had to.
It’s an admittedly childish attitude, but it’s one that is surprisingly easy to fall into. Since I got to Emerson, I have heard countless actors complaining about acting, filmmakers grumble about making films, and writers dread writing. It’s a shame.
Work is not always going to be fun. But the reason we decided to pursue our passions instead of just getting a job that pays is supposed to be because we’ll enjoy it more. Don’t let your craft become just another job, because being a professional artist usually means less pay and more effort. If you don’t love it, there’s no point.
Recently, my longstanding relationship with books has been going through a bit of a rocky patch. Ever since I could read independently I did — every night, for an hour or two, completely on my own accord. Since getting to school, I’ve been reading for pleasure much less simply because, when I’ve just finished reading literary magazine submissions, editing articles, and pouring over text for class, I can’t enjoy reading. My brain gets stuck in work mode, and I read critically, angrily — like it’s my job rather than what I do for fun.
But I’m not going to let the same thing that happened to me with film happen with literature. I’m going to find time to read and write freely, remind myself that assignments are really nothing more than practice, and talk to other bibliophiles about why books are the bomb.
By choosing to go to Emerson and attempting to transform our passions into a career, we are changing our relationship with our art. But its still what we love to do — and that’s what we have to remember.