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Column: Beholden to no box

Photo via Sam Mwakasisi.

If there’s one thing I’ve been thinking about nowadays, it’s the next step — a step on a path I’ve spent my entire life carving out.

It’s times like these that make me remember the day, no later than fourth grade, when I told my brother I wanted to be a cartoonist.

He immediately followed up by asking me what job I’d do to actually make money.

I’ve since pushed my drawing to the wayside, so maybe he wasn’t completely off on that. I suppose that was the first conscious battle in a lifelong war I’ve waged between what’s reasonable and what resonates in terms of what I want to do with my life.

I’ve been partial to the arts and mass media for as long as I can remember. Seriously — my very first memory is waking up across the room from a TV playing “Guts” on Nickelodeon.

Seeing fit to apply my dad’s adage to believe I could do whatever I put my mind to, I spent a lot of my youth absorbing an absurd amount of books, comics, video games, music and movies, all meshing together to form an unstoppable expressive energy that exploded across sheets of paper, crappy webcams and WordPress blogs for years.

It wasn’t until middle school that I started understanding a wider world beyond my family and friends that I could reach through the internet. Sites like SoundCloud introduced me to communities of artists (Tennyson, Kero Kero Bonito, Blank Banshee, etc.) all expressing themselves on their own terms with their own aesthetics, through the same interfaces I initially grew attached to them with. I even found a small bit of success through these sites, which only strengthened my creative impulse and left me hungry for the next step.

I’ll tell you where not to start your search: high school.

Nothing will make you existential with more efficiency than the shadow of the future, which presented itself in the form of the college application process. Before I could even process it, my fear of disrupting the status quo took over. I tried to find the nearest possible approximation to a direction I felt comfortable taking my life in, and we all know how stability and expectations can factor into that decision.

But off the back of some serious commitments to film and music production, my creative energy was stronger than ever, and it only pushed me to ask what more to life there was than this confusion. I found myself at that crossroads again: What do I need to do, and what am I expected to do?

Now, I have the confidence to admit to myself what words were failing to describe in years past.

I don’t want to be one thing for my whole life. I don’t want to be just a writer. I don’t want to be just a director. I don’t want to be just a producer. I want to be a force — a pulse of raw energy, beholden to no box. If speaking this into existence isn’t enough, perhaps my actions will be, and I’ve set up a lot of dominoes to knock down.

I’m in no rush to make people remember my name. If I can manifest what’s been stewing in me my whole life, my name should be the one crossing paths with you in due time.

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