Monday, March 10, 2008

Wheels are in motion

So in deciding what to do about my major, i have been confronted by varying degrees of fear: could I really make it in the world of advertising? What if I go down this path and then decide after awhile it was the wrong path, could I handle that again?? I am 25, I don't have time for too many more mistakes in my life.

Lots of crap going on in my head.

I haven't really been able to do the soul searching that I wanted, to get away and just spend some time with my self. But so yesterday when I woke up, I offered a sincere prayer for help and guidance. When I have prayed about this, I have felt that I should be using the creative/artistic skills God has given me. I have felt that I should not abandon art. Which is not to say I have felt like I should return to painting.

So I have thought and thought. At times I have thought that I have an altruistic obligation to the world of psychology. That I could do so much genuine good, but if I am honest with myself, I dont really know how much I want to do therapy, which leaves research and teaching. Eh. Okay.

So anyway, I prayed. And then last night I got into this discussion with some of my roommates and friends about urban planning, America's place in the world economy, and capitalist consumerism. Now, I have believed for a long time now, that if we have any hope of achieving relief from global warming, of having all citizens of the world have good, comfortable lives, then we have to be willing to abandon capitalist consumerism or at least . . . change the way we use it. Because the current system is incredibly short sighted, is about the bottom-line/dollar, and requires that someone always lose. I just dont think that is the way God would set up a paradaisical society.

So as I was saying this, I realized. Oh crap. I am seriously considering entering a world that totally promotes capitalist consumerism. How can I ethically be a part of a system that promotes something I think is messed up and wrong(ironically, this has also been my struggle in faith)? I thought perhaps this is my answer. I cant do this. These were mostly thoughts. No strong feelings, but I am grateful for this having come up, because whatever decisions one makes in life, one must do it, I believe, with eyes wide open, fully aware.

So then later in the night, Billy (my roommate who is majoring in advertising at BYU) asked me for some feedback on lay out/font for this ad campaign he is doing. We ended up really getting into it: new font face, editing copy, fiddling with concept. We talked about other potential campaigns. And, folks, I loved it! It was fun, it was exciting, it was stimulating. I really felt like I was able to use everything I've got: taste, editing, understanding of people, aesthetic sensibility, critical/analytical thinking. I got so caught up in the fun I was having.

Billy looks at me and he's like, "JOhn, you've GOT to do this."

Sigh. And I realized I was having so much fun.

One of my very wise friends asked me: John, why do you feel like you dont deserve to be happy? Why do feel this guilt over doing something you enjoy?

I dont know. I am a masochist. :P

But as I got ready for bed (and read a little bit more in the book Truth, Lies, and Advertising) I thought, you know, I coudl really do this. I have the knack for it.

I dont know, guys. It seems to me like we all have to do a 9-5. If I can find a 9-5 that actually excites me and challenges me and that seems to actually make use of my talents, shouldn't I do it?

I am glad I had that conversation with Krysten about consumerism, because I think I do need to be aware of what I am doing, and make my peace with it. I also think that the skills I develop in this field are skills that will be useful no matter how the economy changes.

Advertising (at least on the creative end) is about a dialogue wiht the consumer. Good advertising is intelligent and respects the consumer. I think these are good things. One of the things I firmly believe is that in order for advertising to be successful, advertising cannot promise something the product can't deliver, this undermines the relationship of trust between the consumer and the advertiser. And it is dishonest. I believe in being honest.

Consumerism will be here for now. We can guide it and direct it towards good things (like the recent interest in "green" products). In our current world, as I have often said, more than voting, money talks. The way we spend our money is the true voice of the people. Hopefully, the voice of the people can shift our economy to promote business practices that are more conscientious and have loftier goals in mind than just making a buck. Perhaps I can have an impact on that, perhaps not. But I don't know that me choosing to be a creative in advertising will perpetuate more harm. It might even do some good. I don't know.

I talked to my academic advisor today, and we have gotten the ball rolling on me changing over to advertising. This will mean some huge changes (including moving back to SF). I am giving myself permission to change my mind in the next week, as we go through all of the logistics.

Let's see what happens. Sometimes, as my friend, Jenny says, you have to run into the fear, because as I often say, you can't live in fear.

You know, for some one who changes their life so much, I really hate/fear change.


Tai said...

You could always move to one of the few remaining communist countries and do propaganda...thus working in advertising, while totally avoiding capitalist consumerism.

And yes, you can always come to me for useless advice.

Luis Merino said...


Billy_Reano said...

Booya! Keep the excitement! good post.