What have you done with your life?

As a member of multiple dating and random websites, I can say that I’ve had my fair share of what is your job, what do you do for fun, describe yourself and what nots. However, today I was signing up for a website called couch surfing and one question caught me off guard: “List one amazing thing that you’ve done.” As I was reflecting on this question, it was hard to think of something specific. In the haste of the moment I wrote in a philosophical manner “everyday is an amazing one as I progress through life. In my job, I have the opportunity to help people make one of their biggest financial investments of their life and the guidance and intimacy required of each transaction is unlike anything else.” Though the question was answered, I felt incomplete with this answer. It’s true that I do feel every day is an amazing one but what have I done that very few people have? The first thing that comes to mind is life milestones, dating, getting into UCLA, graduating, finding a job but everyone has or eventually will achieve these.

Now I want to share with you something that I rarely talk about. One amazing thing I’ve done is act in a play for an audience of 300. One dark night during my 2nd year at UCLA, I was leaving the gym when I run into a friend. She tells me she is going to audition for a cultural play and I should go with her. I was a yes man back then so I joined her and arrived at the tiny office where they were auditioning people. I was dressed to impress with my basketball shorts and my faded nike shirt with miscellaneous holes I’ve kept in my possession since I was in middle school. My friend goes first as I can see her through a little window on the door, she looks nervous. I can’t hear anything but I can see she is talking about herself before they ask her to perform some acts and she begins to make some calculated movements for 10 minutes. When she is done she comes out, looking a little excited, a little uncertain. “You’re up” she says. I go in and they ask me why I want to do this and the truth of the matter is, I had no idea what ‘this’ was so I spewed some BS about how I’ve been an avid movie person and have always sought to be a part of a production. They seemed to eat it up. Next they gave me 3 situations and I had to act them out, all of which I felt I did very poorly in. They thanked me for my time and I left with my friend. A week passes and I’ve forgotten about this event and I get a call. “Hey Tim, we’ve decided to make you the lead actor in our play.” I didn’t really have any plans of doing this, let alone, such an important role. But, I was a yes man then, so I said yes. Over the next few months I practiced with them and learned quite a bit. The lead actress was a 4th year, confident and very good looking, so she was very intimidating in my book. With the hormones of that age, quite literally every girl had me by the balls. I was agreeable to anything they wanted if there was even a smidgen of a chance to progress into, well you know. This experience taught me a lot and I was able to build some great friendships. I learned that new experiences, though scary, can lead to amazing and unexpected things. Sometimes we say no to things and we don’t even know what we are saying no to. Take a chance.

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Yeah that’s me on the right page bottom middle. Long hair don’t care. Now this led to another amazing thing I’ve done in my life, in fact quite possibly one of the most stressful things as well. You know what they say, the greater the struggle, the sweeter the success. Now, another amazing thing I’ve done is write, produce and direct a play for an audience of 300. This experience was much different that acting. Initially, when I started writing this play with my partner, we had no idea if it would even come the fruition because the club had very little money leftover. All this work could possibly be for nothing. We kept working, with the hope that it will all work out. We have to treat dreams in our life in the same way. We have to keep moving forward and believe that even though we are not where we want to be, we will eventually reach success.

After the backbreaking process of writing a play, I auditioned students to be a part of the play. I got to be on the other side of the table this time. These students had better things to do with their life, studying for one. This process taught me that having the right people are your team is extremely important for success. They have to share your vision and work with you to make it come true. It also taught me to be firm but also adaptable because 17 different actors meant 17 different schedules to coordinate for practice. There are times to be understanding and times to put your foot down, learning and using them correctly was huge to me.

Finally, directing the play taught me a lot about leadership. I learned that people were going to be coming to me for answers and I didn’t have time to manage everyone. I assigned responsibilities to a few key people and they became my “managers” in those aspects such as props, singing, backstage hands and finance. This freed me up to handle everything else and deal with the big problems. After this play was over, it was one of the biggest reliefs and achievements. I was proud of my team for pulling everything together and proud to have had everything become such a success. I was only as strong as my team members and sometimes as a mentor and leader, you end up being the person who learns the most from an experience. Approach everything with a propensity to learn.

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Me and a part of my amazing team. Long hair don’t care part 2.

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