I have about 5 other posts that are works in progress but something that has taken a front row seat in my brain theater has been the idea of change. It’s inevitable this we all know as a core life lesson that everything changes and in the business mind set you hear constantly that you have to move with change or be left behind. An idea that I totally agree with. Change is extremely important as it brings new or improved to the table. (Note that I put or in the middle there because people that say new AND improved drive me nuts.) But how far are you willing to go for change?
When I was a teenager I was very ( for the lack of a better term ) Punk Rock. I had the baggy ripped jeans, I went to metal shows, I skipped gym and hung out in the back with the kids who smoked cigarettes and was into art. Pretty much the definition of every teen movies alternative best friend.
Then around 17 I started working at Blockbuster Video. And for those who probably will never see the inside of a Blockbuster the uniform was a blue polo shirt, kaki pants and you had to wear your shirt tucked in and have a belt that didn’t have chains or metal studs in it. All things that were the exact opposite of what was in my wardrobe. But I loved the job. Having a place where I got to go get paid to talk to people about movies and score free rentals was awesome and at the time it was the best job I had. I really wanted to fit in there so I went to the mall and skipped the Hot Topic and went to Abercrombie and American Eagle and bought a whole new wardrobe of beige and other neutral colors. And I did everything I could to be the model Blockbuster Employee.
Customers loved me. I had a few regulars that would only come in to the store on days I was working because I knew what they would like and what they should skip. I became friends with the managers and even started hitting the gym that was part of the plaza where the store was. I felt good and time went on I started to hang out less with the kids behind the school I started wearing kaki pants on days I didn’t have to work, I began getting involved with school and working on what I thought was growing up.
Then before I left for college I stopped and took a look at how much a year had changed me. I wore button down shirts I was the skinniest I have ever been, all my pants cost more than I paid for my first car and I tossed in the adidas sneakers for dress shoes. When I looked in the mirror I felt like I was an adult but I didn’t feel like me.
There was a lot of stuff that I used to do that I missed doing. I wasn’t playing guitar as much. I had pretty much stopped drawing ( though I wasn’t very good I used to enjoy art. ) I missed hanging out in the coffee shops with my old friends talking about absolutely nothing for hours on end. I missed a lot of the old me. And suddenly the person that I saw wasn’t me but a shell that just looked like me. And that freaked me out.
I really worried that this path towards being a grown up meant that I was going to have to erase parts of myself that maybe I didn’t want to. So on my 18th birthday I walked into the closest tattoo parlor and got a wildly animated character tattooed on my back. Hours later I emerged bruised, bleeding and wrapped in cellophane. but I felt a little better. I felt like well at least if I do grow up and loose touch with parts of myself I would at least have this one permeant reminder that I once used to be wild. That I once was a creative person, and that I once had things and ideals that I really believed in.
Now after that I went to film school and found more like mined people and the fear of change went away. And for years I never really stressed about it. But I find myself in a similar mind set now being a part of the corporate world.
The longer I’m in the corporate world I feel like I’m watching those parts of creative process that I loved slowly fade away in my friends and co-workers. And more and more conversations become about demographics, and market shares. Not about creativity. And I see more and more people make those self compromises to create things that will sell not what they would enjoy and it makes me sad.
Change is inevitable. And as time goes on I imagine that there are a lot of things that will get pushed to the wayside of life. But take a moment and think about what it is that makes you, you. And create something that reminds you of the things you really value. I’m not saying it has to be as drastic as getting a tattoo. But something that reminds you “Hey I used to be this person and do these things.” Because we all need a little reminder from time to time.