White Picket Fence
I stood in my professor’s office. He sat at his desk and, when no one spoke, the fans from a silver Mac computer on the floor quietly whirred. I was nearing the end of my nonfiction film production class, which filled the requirements of my film minor. From here, my schedule would be dominated by math, electrical engineering, and coding classes. I enjoyed my film classes immensely, but I worried about my future in film. Would I be able to hold on to my faith in a community that didn’t value organized religion? Would I be able to provide for my future family with such a career path? It was these questions that had caused me to switch my major to computer science upon returning from my mission. But now, faced with my last class, I had second thoughts.
“It can be a tough business,” my professor said. I liked this professor. He was young and didn’t believe that Technicolor had destroyed great cinema.
“I worry about making enough money at it…potentially raising a family.” I didn’t normally talk so openly with my professors (or at all, really), but he didn’t seem uncomfortable with my personal concerns.
“Well, those are good questions to ask yourself,” he responded. “It’s not unreasonable to assume that if you are at it long enough, you’ll be able to do whatever job you want in Hollywood. But it takes a long time of paying your dues. But I will say one thing, you do have talent.”
Dangit. I was a sucker for complements.
“Huh,” I said.
We talked for a while longer about movies, Hollywood, and my final project. The class ended and the next semester I filled my schedule with Digital Logic, C++ programming, Calculus II, and Physics.
Digital logic was interesting. C++ was hard, but kinda like a puzzle that you wanted to figure out.
But Calculus II and physics made me hate life.
I hated everything about the classes: the mumbly math professor (whose German accent didn’t help with the comprehension of what he was saying), the graphing calculator (I normally loved the robot race), the paper with small squares (I wanted to draw on it the whole time), and the friggin’ kids who asked the questions that I wasn’t even smart enough to ask.
But more disturbing, the classes made me hate my future family. I switched my major for them. I was giving up film to provide a more financially stable home. That was my role as potential husband and father. I was supposed to be the provider for my future family. It was what I wanted more than anything. I wanted them.
But Cal II and physics made me resent them even before “they” even existed. I hated the computer science department. I hated that all the CS students reminded me of people at church. I was trying to be one of them, but only to get what I really wanted. Two-thirds through the semester, though, I had had enough.
I went to the film department’s office and changed my major.
It was as if I had made a decision on who I was and who I wanted to be. In college, the first thing anyone asks you is your name. The second thing is your major. It is a part of who you are and defines you. I didn’t feel like I was pretending to be something I wasn’t anymore simply for the sake of being a “good Mormon”. When asked, the YSA at church were mostly engineers, administrators, and lawyers, but I chose to answer back “film”.
Liberal, artsy, future-less, faggy “film”.
In retrospect, I realize that no one really asked me to be anything I wasn’t. Shortly after switching back to film, my parents bought me a really nice camcorder. People at church couldn’t care less what I majored in (in a good way). I was the only one who was so obsessed. I learned a lot about myself that year I was a CS major, so I don’t regret it, but it would have been nice to have switched back earlier.
Cal II and Physics really killed my GPA.