Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Being a Geek is Not Easy

I really regret not knowing what I wanted to do in College.

I half-assed my way to a Bachelor's degree at Berkeley which sounds impressive, but it's not. I had to beg my way to get a C+ on my Complex Analysis class, traded 8am Microeconomics at the farthest building from my apartment for 9am basketball practice at the gym and got a B- for a Business Administration class which everyone told me was an easy A.

Yes, that was enough to get me a degree in Applied Mathematics with emphasis in Economics, but I honestly do not remember a single thing I learned in class. Real sets, complex numbers, sequences, matrix operations, real integrals, complex integrals, derivatives, Marxism, the square root of -1 formally known as i... To me, all these terms are like men's skincare: They mean absolutely nothing to me. I have a naturally radiant complexion, rarely get pimples and even more rarely need to figure out the surface area of irregularly shaped ponds.

Clearly, Applied Mathematics was NOT what I wanted to do in College. Which brings me to this question: If I were given the opportunity for a do-over, what would I have picked, and would I become a geek in that subject?

Well, I can't really speak for my 18-year-old self now, but my best guess is his answer would be, "I don't know, and probably not." On the other hand, as the authority on my 27-year-old self, my answer would be, "Writing, and I really hope I can."

It's always exciting to discover a new shiny object that grabs your attention, but this attraction can be fatal as you get older. Writing is my most recent shiny object, and it is one of the most dangerous of professions because of its volatile commercial nature. You either make it, or you generally don't. There really isn't much in-between in terms of success or failure for the type of writing that I want to be involved in i.e. Hollywood, movies and television. Anything else just would not cut it for me. Setting the bar high is a good practice, except I have a pretty horrendous record of hard work, self-discipline and seeing anything through to the end. Can wanting something bad enough change this? Have I ever even wanted anything bad enough?

To me, becoming a geek is a testament to my resolve. Being a geek means a relentless obsession and profound love for what you do. When one can exhibit such geeky qualities towards a subject, a person or goal, I am confident that one can win and achieve the object of their affection.

Case in point, "The Social Network". Mark Zuckerburg is the definition of geek. Obsessed with algorithms, code and making a name for himself, he founded Facebook. Regardless of his methods or your opinions, you cannot argue that he has become an enormous success. That drive, that obsession, that resolve is what being a geek means to me.

I am seriously considering enrolling myself into the Vancouver Film School full-time for one year starting in August. If I can become a geek during that year, surround myself with fellow geek-writers, geek-actors, geek-directors, geek-make-up artists, geek-sound-engineers, geek-animators, then surely I must want it bad enough, and we will succeed together. But first, I must save up, quit my job, rent out my apartment, relocate, apply, pay tuition and bid farewell to all of my friends, family and the ridiculously comfy comfort zone I have built in Hong Kong for the past 7 years.

Am I geek enough?

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