Wow, 2018 was quite a year for Spinning Goat Productions and its director, Chris Mason.
In January 2018, after a lot of uncertainty and anxiety about the future, I decided to apply to Temple University to hopefully, finally finish my undergraduate degree in Anthropology (Visual/Media). I had worked very hard to build a film and social service career in Pittsburgh, but I was not making inroads nor gaining any recognition, which anyone needs to stay inspired and confident.
I was accepted to Temple in February 2018, and I wept tears of joy at finally having a chance to make something of myself, for being “accepted” somewhere, and to have hope that I could find a way to turn my passion and vocation into a career that I can be proud of. And, I’ll admit it, to feel better about myself. I think we always want to put our best face forward in these social media times, but it has not always been easy for me (and for others) who want to create art and influence for change. And often doing it while being under-paid, under-appreciated, tackling bills and debt, unstable housing, and past and present abuse and trauma.
Once I managed to complete my relocation to Philadelphia in July 2018 (no small feat, even for an oldster like me, lol), I was filled with hope and terror all at once. There were days I felt so free and full of possibility, while on other days I was racked with anxiety and fear that I had gambled everything on this move and entry back into school, with $25,000 more added to my debts:What if it didn’t work out? What if I fail? What if…? It was hard to shake the feelings of insecurity and worthlessness that often plagued me in Pittsburgh. But over the last 4+ months, I have discovered that Philly is the exact right place for me to be, to create a future for myself while unpacking and resolving the past.
Philly is a large city (6th largest in the US), and has both its challenges and triumphs, but the vibe I get here is one of encouragement, with a right mix of sincerity and attitude, lol. Despite inequities that persist here, as is the case in most cities in the US, I’m impressed by the desire that many Philadelphians have to improve things for other people and the search for ways through without solely focusing on barriers. You will likely receive support, not apathy, for wanting to find a way to solve problems facing your community and for wanting to create something new. Philadelphia is culturally diverse, and I’m inspired by the many organizations and community members who offer arts, educational and cross-cultural programs here. I have found the right place to figure out how best to combine my skills and talents, my 25+ years (gulp!) of experience, and my desire to help other people learn more about the world beyond their own, to recognize the potential in themselves and others, and to dismantle stereotypes based on ignorance and fear. For real. 😉
Right now, I’m not really sure what my future will exactly look like. I’ve had some surprises this first semester, like acing my first Arabic language class and realizing that while I love making films, I also have other strong skills that I hope to utilize.
And that it is not all that easy to figure out who you really are and what you are meant to do. I acknowledge that I am a bit lucky, but I also remember how much work I’ve done to make myself more…my self! Not to get too philosophical. 🙂 But truly, it is like I am finding a way back to my self, to the self that has always been there, but had gotten sidetracked by other people’s views and pressure, social dramas, insecurities, and getting lost in alcohol and abuse. I’ve spent the past 7 years working on resolving feelings of shame and worthlessness. I’m almost there. 🙂
I’m almost at a 4.0 for the Fall semester (waiting on one more grade), and that makes me super proud! I have some scholarships to apply for for summer study and for my last year 2019-20, so this not only lets me know that I have what it takes, but demonstrates that to others. Who have money to give away. 😉 😉 😉
But it gives me confidence to stay on my path, searching for the best way forward. And I want to thank my friends who have given me support that I cannot get from family, and to those who helped donate to my student loan issue in fall 2017, without which I would not have been able to afford to go to Temple anyway!
I am filled with gratitude and look forward to whatever 2019 brings! And I hope to post a few more films and other art projects next year, and provide updates on past ones.
But in the meantime, I plan to enjoy the heck out of winter break!