I’m at my internship, it’s the middle of the day, a cute new girl just started, and I RIPPED MY PANTS. Like, I didn’t rip my pants near the ankle as I narrowly escaped a dog chasing me on a coffee run, I didn’t rip my pants doing a super rad tree pose during office yoga time. Nope, nothing cool like that. In fact, I’m not even sure how I ripped my pants, but I ripped my pants RIGHT ON THE BUTT.
Well that tears it. Time to split. No seamless transition to LA life for me. My dreams are gashed. I’ve got more in common with SpongeBob than Spielberg. This has got to be a glitch; I simply can’t have lost a stitch!
Panic. Disbelief. Surprise. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 dollars.
Somehow, I experienced all those feelings in one gut-wrenching second when I ripped my pants at work. Now I know what you’re thinking: “Greg, why did you just randomly reference Monopoly?” And to that I say there is no other way to describe the specific brand of disappointment I felt in myself when I saw that’d I’d ripped my pants. It’s the disappointment that only comes after you’ve anticipated something as a guarantee, only to have it rudely ripped away by a chance card. It’s in this way that ripping my pants at my internship serves as a microcosm for this fascinating and relentlessly surprising industry people call show business.
Like so many people before me, and like so many people after me (I hope), I’ve always been told that I can be anything I want to be, all I have to do is set my mind to it. I was a very serious child, so I really took this to heart, setting out to find what my “anything” would be.
First, it was baseball. I’d play for the Red Sox, at 3rd base, only work six months a year, and have unlimited supplies of chewing gum. Yes, being a baseball player seemed like paradise indeed.
But then I watched Top Gun, and what ten-year-old could resist those guitar solos, aviator sunglasses, and motorcycles? (at 21, I still can’t). Yes, flying jets sounded and looked cool, and that’s all I wanted.
After that I wanted to be a journalist, a divorce lawyer, and then a journalist again before I finally realized that my “anything” had something to do with motion pictures. Of course, I decided, I would be enormously successful in this area. How could I not be? After all, I can be anything I want to be right? So I jetted off to LA in my mom’s old car, certain that my work ethic would push me over the top.
Well. The first day at my internship in Beverly Hills was a wild one. I was six minutes late, the woman who hired me was leaving in two days, and they left me alone to hold down the floater room with almost zero training. I guess you could say I was flying by the seat of my pants.
Panic. Disbelief. Surprise.
Alone in that floater room, fielding a seemingly endless stream of requests requiring knowledge I simply didn’t have and, therefore, couldn’t solve no matter how hard I worked was a sobering and incredible moment. In it, I questioned every decision I had made to bring me to that point where I felt completely and helplessly out of control.
What I’ve since realized is that that moment was a result of chance, just like mysteriously ripping your pants the same day a cute girl starts in the office. Things are going to happen that are out of your control, especially in this industry where wearing the wrong tie can rub a potential boss the wrong way.
You’re going to feel doubt. You’re going to feel stupid at some point. You’re going to get discouraged. That’s no secret, the real secret is something else my dad always told me: “it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to it.” You can control that.
So the next time you rip your pants and you feel like that chance card just stole your trip past Go and 200 dollars, keep playing, because life always gives you another turn, all you need to do is roll the dice… And get a new pair of pants.