“Fitting in can be such a loaded thing. Ultimately, that is all we want to do, fit in. But it is not about fitting in; it is about feeling less alone. It kills me to think that there is such a huge part of our society slaving away because they think that there is no other option. There is another option.” This is Sarah. This is her story.
At the age of twenty five Sarah, a writer, director, editor and producer, has created several drama series and short films. Her TV show Sort Your Sh*t Out is a sexy, witty drama that premiered in Melbourne and online in January 2014. She is also currently creating No One Told Me an honest discussion series with people that inspire her, about life, intimacy and purpose.
But Sarah’s own journey did not start with such clear purpose. From living and growing up in the country to the throws of life at The University of Melbourne, Sarah did half an arts degree when she started to realise that something wasn’t quite right.
“When you first look at the university guide books you don’t know what all the descriptions mean. You don’t know what theory versus production means, let alone if this is what you want to do. So by the time I had eighteen months off and it was my fourth go at applying for a university degree, I landed an early entry interview at JMC Academy – as a mature age student – at the age of 22! I remember saying to the lady at the interview ‘I know I want to this because I’ve watched TV shows that have made me feel a certain way and I don’t know how it works but I know I want to make people feel like that.’
Sarah completed her Bachelor of Creative Technology in Film & TV Production in 2013 only to find herself staring at a finished degree, no job and no motivation. “I had been at school or applying to go to school since I was five – and here I was with a degree I could do whatever I wanted, but nothing had prompted me.” Sarah did not need to wait long for that prompt. Her partner was going away for five weeks and those five weeks became Sarah time.
“I thought if I just kicked myself out of the nest, made myself really scared then maybe I would make something happen. This was going to be five weeks of crazy.” Five weeks tapered into a new routine of networking, conferences, receiving a grant to work at the community space Electron Workshop, short films and videos. Slowly Sarah started to think “maybe I’m not terrible at this.”
By her twenty-fifth birthday Sarah felt like “all the arrows were pointing in the right direction.” A well-timed social media update led Sarah straight into the arms of Claire from Project Work Life. “It was exactly what I needed, if not critical. First up I wrote a list of literally everything I wanted to get done: in work, in life, in everything. A frightening list to write, especially when I have a bazillion ideas. Then from that I worked out: how do I want to feel? What do I value more than anything? And how does that fit into my vision?”
“It doesn’t ever occur to you that you can do something that makes you feel good. We always talk about the lofty idea of doing what you love. I think sometimes we get a bit hell bent on thinking well I like it, so I must be happy and I must feel good. Not necessarily. We are almost taught to feel indulgent to be working on our passion project, but we shouldn’t. Our passion is what we do, it makes us feel good and it is fine to be doing it.”
Sarah is about to embark on a twelve month journey to the USA: networking, film making, and seeing where the path takes her. On her return she has plans to run a festival in central Victoria and create an online channel with the extended aim to make series television.
“I have always been concerned with legacy, since I was little. The idea of what I am going to be known for and what I am going to leave behind. I got really bullied at high school. I was always one step removed and in the middle. But those years taught me that you don’t need to do what people expect of you. We get stuck with the idea of trying to fit into a version of something and that mindset has only left me feeling like I’m not quite enough of anything. But the truth is it doesn’t matter. The slow burn of hey it doesn’t matter, hey maybe I can do this. I can be in the middle.”
“You can complain about stuff or you can do something about it. I’m trying to do something about it. We all need to rack off the idea of what we think we should like, or what people are telling us to like. Instead we should expose ourselves to as much culture, events, life, people and education as possible. Then figure out a way to integrate things into our world that make us happier than we currently are.”
At twenty five Sarah fits in. She fits in to her own happiness, her own sense of self and curiosity. In her path towards feeling less alone and feeling good about what she does in life, her inspiration is contagious. Giving ourselves permission to live our dreams, not the dreams or expectations of someone else, a message we can all fit into.
If you would like to nominate someone or yourself to be part of Stories of You, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to meet you over coffee and hear your story. Read the other incredible stories from the Stories of You collection here.