Dealing with Uncertainty in a Creative Major 

I am unbelievably lucky to be a film and television major at Boston University. This is because I get to make art for class credit. Just last week, I was in the Downtown Crossing area of Boston taking photos for an assignment in my Screen Language class. And while completing this assignment, I experienced a rare moment of pure bliss. My muscles were poised with focus and creative energy. My fingers struggled to keep up with my brain and change my camera settings to capture every shot that I framed. In one second, the passing pedestrians would align themselves to create a compelling story. The next second later, this story would dissolve into a flurry of urban chaos. Then, before my eyes, the city would set to work to build me another story. I was completely in the moment, just trying to capture it all. But suddenly, my focus was disrupted when I thought to myself "can I really make money doing this in the future?" 

Sure, its fun to do what you love, but its another thing to stake the future of your livelihood on your ability to make money off talent. When I think about my future in the film and television industry, I often find myself wondering if I would be better off majoring in something safe like business or pre-law. You see, when I asked myself  "can I really make money doing this in the future" that day in Downtown Crossing, I was also asking myself "should I even be trying to make money doing this in the future?" After some deep thought, and conversations with fellow students majoring in a creative field, (Film, Musical-Theatre, Dance, Photo Journalism, even Architecture) I realized that the root of this anxiety is the overwhelming uncertainty that is part of all creative industries.  

The "Creative Industry Uncertainty" that has been weighing heavily on my peers, and my own thoughts about the future, exists for two main reasons. One, because there is no direct path for students in creative fields after they graduate. And two, because of the self-doubt that comes with putting your work out there for others’ approval.

When students graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in *insert creative major here* there is no clear path to follow into full-fledged adulthood. Unlike pre-med students who go off to medical school, or engineering students who dive easily into the workplace, students in creative majors experience a "now what?" moment upon receiving their diploma. Some are lucky they are able to use their internship experience to find a job after graduation. But most students experience a much harder time carving a niche for themselves in an already saturated industry. To my friend Erika, who recently graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in music composition and production, it can even seem like they are "running dead last in a marathon of coffee-fetching interns who are all trying to reach the finish line first". As undergraduates see this future ahead of them, they are imbued with an overwhelming sense of anxiety about the uncertainty and unbelievable competition that lies ahead.

Hero image appropriate for article on Unhealthy Relatioships - image of a question mark

Secondly, sharing work for others to critique is an unavoidable part of working in a creative field. It’s easy to do this in class, amongst peers who are on a similar level. But when applying for a job, critique, or rejection can feel like employers are rejecting you as a whole, and not just your portfolio. The typical college self-doubt is heightened because it’s not just about getting a job, it’s about making it in an industry where being "good enough" pays the bills. So when an employer informs you that you didn’t get the job, it can feel much more personal.

"At that moment, It’s not that you weren't the right fit the company, you weren't the right fit for your own dreams,” says Felipe, a recent film and television graduate from Boston University.  His advice to all creative majors is to your separate self worth from your portfolio to survive the uncertainty and self-doubt that is inherent in their line of work. 

At times, the uncertainty of being in a creative major can hang over students' heads, tormenting them into a quarter-life crisis. But the silver lining is that this sense of uncertainty can also be a creative major's greatest asset. Aspiring to work in a creative field means that you are not tied to the same industry for your entire life. Unlike medical, law, or even business students (no shade to any of those great majors), creative students can have many different types of jobs and work from project to project, never having to be tied down to one specific story.

Creative fields are dynamic, ever-changing, end exciting. You can choose your own path in life, and it definitely won't be boring.


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