television killed the creative young star
I can’t believe I haven’ t told you about my vomit worthy, short-lived stint in television yet. I lasted about three years working for a small media company in Sydney. The office was a hole, my boss mindlessly money hungry, and I was the classic definition of waaaay over worked and waaaay under-paid.
My love for film and tv ran deep. From a silly young age I became obsessed with stories and the characters in them became my real friends. I loved living in a world I could create from the clouds and be anyone I wanted to be.
I loved it so much that I got my first job, at 14 years old, at my local video store. I was in heaven people, heaven! (And I’m aware I’m revealing my age here. Be kind.) I then went on to study Screen and Film with great aspirations of pursuing a fabulous creative career.
My experience in tv, in the revolting sub-standard working environment, at the ripe old age of 21, destroyed my energy, inspiration, imagination, hopes, dreams, creativity….and just my basic willingness to live. I’m not even exaggerating. At one point one of the other older and wiser producers said to me…”Sez, the sparkle has gone from your eyes. Are you ok.” NO, no I wasn’t. (But what a legend for asking!)
Some of my response to this experience was likely my naive ignorance to the unglamorous reality of tv, but a lot of it was also the endless high expectations of the working environment. Pressure and deadlines are stressful sure…but it was the lack of mentoring, lack of recognition, lack of sleep, lack of integrity (alllll about the money), lack of respect, lack of having any kind of voice, lack of life balance, lack of genuine interaction and relationships, and lack of passion within my immediate surroundings that slowly grated me down. There is only so far your adrenaline can take you, until you crash the f out! Add this on top of my young lack of experience, low self-worth, minimal boundaries and willingness to impress and please….and you get buuuuuurrrrrrnnnnn out! Plus, I made pennies so could barely live! That was also fun!
This is just one teeny example of zero mental health focus within the creative industry. I have no doubt you will all have more hardcore stories than me. But I can’t put into words the long-lasting impact that job had on my self-esteem and self-identity. It made me feel small, incompetent and disillusioned. In hindsight I can see that I was kicking ass for where I was at. But it took me an aaaaaaage to see that, and by then I had moved forward in another career.
I’m so passionate to get to the bottom of why the hell mental health is not considered to be of valid discussion when talking about employee care and working conditions in the creative industries. It seems so wasteful to me that an industry full of so many great minds, feels ok about destroying those minds! What is happening????
Please please share guys…I want to know about your experiences so that I can create resources that are the most useful for you.
What is it about your working conditions that impact your mental health?