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  • Firebird FX

The Next Step

I've been thinking a lot lately about my career goals. For such a long time my big dream was to get into the union. It was the perfect combination of completely out of my grasp, but also not so far out of reach that I didn't know how to work towards it. There were steps, I had a plan. And even though the steps were often small and got me nowhere, it felt good to be chasing a dream, you know?

So finally, after three years of pestering and hundreds (maybe thousands?) of hours working on set and in the shop, I got a letter in the mail and a far off dream turned into real palpable accomplishment.

And while getting into the union has been one of the best things that could have happened for my career, opening dozens of doors and helping me foster new working relationships left and right, I'm realizing how alien it is for me to exist without the next goal already firmly in place.

Over the last year my brain has jumped between a dozen different ideas, something along the lines of okay Catherine, what's next? What about LA? All the real grown up professionals probably work in LA, right? What about winning an Oscar? Getting a real business license? Hiring a full time staff to work for you? Finding an artist's manager? Opening a local gallery? WHAT'S THE NEXT STEP?

And while hell, if they REALLY wanted to give me an Oscar I wouldn't say no, I'm also slowly starting to figure out that this current professional space might just be where I belong. At this low-mid level I get to fly just under the radar. Its only strange for me emotionally that my impulse isn't to reach higher.

Because are my options, really? Pack up my bags and go work in someone else's shop in California, sweeping floors and pouring silicone and running errands for the next ten years until I get big enough to do whatever I want? Or stay here and slowly expand and try to hire people to come and work in the shop? That all sounds an awful lot like having a real job.

And the job I have now is just so much more my speed. Its chaotic and unpredictable and wild, financially and in every other imaginable way, but its also mine. I'm in a city I love, surrounded by people I love. When I'm in the shop I get to make my own hours, take time off in the middle of a hot day to go swimming and eat tacos, and then come back late and stay up working until 2am sculpting and watching Game of Thrones because I don't have a boss and I'm not anyone else's boss either and because I fucking can. And then when I am on set (and I decidedly DO have a boss, and sometimes am the boss of other people too), I get to work with all my local Chicago people who are the kind of folk who will take you out for a beer after the job and tell you all their tips and tricks and become your family because Chicago is small enough that we all have to take care of each other.

Maybe there doesn't always have to be a next step. Maybe there can be moments in my life where I don't have to have a semi-unattainable dream to work towards. Maybe I can just allow myself to be.

Mostly I'm just thinking out loud. Which is totally fine because let's be honest, no one is reading this and that's fine too. The void is a valuable thing. <3

Photo by Tim Troy

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