Finding Your Spark:
Big Dreams, Epic Fails, And A Flare For The Dramatic

Sunday, November 6, 2016

I decided to start the "Finding Your Spark" series to shine a light on different types of people who are following various paths – their OWN paths, whatever those may be. The whole idea is that there's no single way to live life and a person doesn't have to be "famous" to inspire others. These individuals have found what inspires them, motivates them, makes them happy. And they've run with it.

Brigid is my friend Georgi's sister. I've actually never met her personally, but I admire her from afar because she's hilarious and does really cool things. (I have come to realize that the Presecky sisters are an unbeatable duo.)

Brigid has always had a passion for storytelling, particularly in television. She attended Bradley University for her last two years of college specifically for their Hollywood Semester program, which offers students the opportunity to spend a semester in Los Angeles. And that's exactly what she did. Brigid's final semester was spent working at an internship at Warner Brothers Domestic Publicity.

After graduating, she moved back home to Illinois, where she continued work for FF2 Media, an online media company she worked for since high school and still works for today. After a year and a half, she packed her bags and headed back to L.A. for another internship. Giant leaps and ungraceful bellyflops later (as she puts it), she is now 24 and still in living in L.A., figuring out her next move.

Her journey teaches us that not everyone has it together, dream jobs aren't always as perfect as we imagine them to be, and that chasing whatever will bring us longer-lasting joy is what's most important.

"Even though I was living halfway across the country, I oddly felt closer to home
on the steps of the Stars Hollow gazebo than I ever did in Central Illinois."

So you are currently a managing editor at FF2 Media. Tell me about that. What exactly does that entail? 

I am currently in my eighth year at FF2 Media, an online media company focused on female filmmakers. We see and review films either written and/or directed by a woman and publicize them as best we can – through social media, film festivals, etc. 

The general consensus is that there aren't enough films made by women, but there actually are! Our team is currently attending screenings of five to 10 films per week. However, some are only released on Video on Demand and nobody sees, hears or buys the films. So we try our best to spread the word and get these filmmakers their deserved audience! More viewers = more money. More money = more opportunities. And the cycle continues upwards. 

How old were you when you officially moved from the Chicago area to L.A.?

I was 23 and thought the world was ending because everyone else was getting married and having babies while I was still in my childhood bedroom staring at my scotch-taped Adam Brody poster. But, the world was not ending. Not everyone had it together. And I miss my Adam Brody poster. 

What made you want to make the move?

[Working for FF2 Media,] as long as I have my trusty, yellowing MacBook circa 2010, I can work from anywhere. The flexibility is something I have never, ever taken for granted.

But as I watched more than 300 films in the last few years, I thought to myself: Hey, I can do better than that! Maybe it's my naiveté, but I thought, if these films and television shows can get made ... to quote Mindy Kaling ... Why not me?

And so, after a year and a half of living at home and saving money and consistently being rejected by every other potential employer in Chicago, I remembered my peaceful lunches on the gazebo [during my Hollywood Semester]. And so I veered into the lane that was headed back toward the West Coast. 

Moving across the country isn't something a lot of 23-year-olds are brave enough to do. Was it an easy decision for you?

I actually think it's harder for me now, almost a year in, than it was when I left. I flew to Los Angeles in January, ready for an internship with Greg Berlanti at Warner Bros. Studios. And it was the best thing I could have done.

The internship was supposed to last at least three months and hopefully lead to a job. I was working in a place that I loved for a person I admired. The only downside: it was unpaid. But I loved each and every second I was on that Warner Bros. backlot. Each and every magical, unpaid minute. (Granted, I did have the steady income from FF2 Media). 

Eight weeks in, I got my first job offer in the "entertainment industry." But not through Berlanti or WB. It was for a celebrity news program, minimum wage, across town. I didn't have a car, so what was I supposed to do, Uber back and forth everyday? Leave my favorite internship for a job I didn't even apply to?

"It's a job! It's a job!" people told me. As if I was supposed to be rejoicing! I didn't feel like rejoicing. I didn't care about celebrities. I cared about stories.

I asked for everyone's advice. And without trusting my gut, I ended my blissful internship early and took the job. I Ubered home at midnight every night of the week, with my minimum wage paycheck in hand. At that point, I seriously considered Uber Pooling from Los Angeles back to Chicago.

​You say you took the job, leaving your internship at Warner Bros., "without trusting your gut."  So if you could go back, you'd turn down the job offer?

I absolutely, without a doubt, would have. I know they say that you should learn from experiences, even bad ones. So, maybe my time at ET was supposed to teach me something, but that wasn't the reason I moved to Los Angeles. 

I let people get in my head. They didn't understand why I would prefer an unpaid internship over a full-time job. I get it. But my heart was in my internship, my heart was nowhere near paparazzi shouting and swearing at Jennifer Garner's children and me participating in it. At least my time there showed me, for sure, what I don't want.

I was the girl who just didn't come back from lunch that day in July. My tired, irrational thinking was: I would rather be without this check and sane than get up at 3:30 a.m. and cry myself to work with purple rings under my eyes. They could keep their minimum wage, I'd figure out a way.

I kinda love that you just didn't come back from lunch. Can you elaborate on that?

Without getting into too much detail, when you've been through hardships, you know what truly matters in life. How each moment of your life is precious. I knew, sitting at that desk, watching everyone go into raging rants and panic attacks over Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston, I couldn't be there.

If you ever think you're important or your problems are huge, like I often do, I suggest walking by Lurie's Children's Hospital in Chicago around Christmastime. I did. Six years ago.

I saw them through the window and promised myself that from that moment on, if I was ever in a situation where I felt sorry for myself, I'd close my eyes and see them. Nothing is more important. Nothing in my life would be scarier than what those parents were facing. 

Cut to me at ET: I pictured them and knew that Blac Chyna's story could wait. So, I told my boss after lunch that I needed today to be my last day and she walked me to my car. Without saying goodbye to anyone (except for the couple of friends I made), I drove out of the parking garage like a weight had been lifted off of me.

How did your family and friends react?

They have always been supportive, although I think it's easier for my brother and sister to understand than my parents. My mother and father are two of the hardest working people I have ever known. To them, a paycheck is a paycheck. Maybe it's a generation gap, but I believe in the big dreams, the epic fails, the flare for the dramatic. "You've got to think big to be big!" Did nobody else watch "Hairspray"? 

And my dream is constantly changing. A lot of people's dreams change, and that's just fine. What the butchers, the bakers and the candlestick makers do not understand is that we "millennials" don't dream of being a butcher's social media manager, a baker's marketing analyst or a candlestick maker's publicity assistant. (Although, hey, that might be cool.) We want to go, we want to see, we want to do. .... Or at least I do. 

What advice do you have for fellow twenty-somethings who are hesitant to take that leap toward their goals?

It would be:

1) "If you don't like what they're saying, change the conversation." —"Mad Men"

You know when you're happy. You know when you're unhappy. And if you're unhappy ... walk away. Or in my case, drive away. If you do not like your situation, change it. Little by little or all at once. 

2) "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. –Wayne Gretzky, –Michael Scott" —"The Office"

Plane tickets aren't always cheap, but say a roundtrip plane ticket costs $180. That's three lip glosses, two dinners and a sweater. It's about looking at the value of a dollar. What do you want from it? Think about what would bring you longer-lasting joy. If it's new shoes, great! If it's a quick weekend getaway that will provide you with lifelong memories, all the better. 

3) "You're a Cohen now. Welcome to a life of insecurity and paralyzing self-doubt." —"The OC"

Take people's social media posts for what they are; the best parts of people's lives. I once asked a friend, "How's it going?" and she replied, "Not as exciting as you!" ... As me? What? I spent most of my nights eating EasyMac and flipping between Teen Mom OG and Full House. Not exactly glamorous. But what I put out in the Twitterverse or my Facebook timeline is what people see. And that's only a small portion of what my everyday life looks like. So all of your cyber friends are probably feeling the exact same way. 

The point of all of this? I have no idea what I'm doing. I have cried about it in the shower, I have cried about it before I got to sleep at night, I have cried a lot! So if you compare yourselves to others and think they have it all figured out, I am willing to bet they, too, think they're epically failing at life. 

Whatever your "thing" is. Find it. 
Whatever brings you happiness, do it. 
Forgo a lip gloss, get on a plane, a train or an automobile and go wherever you want. 
Nothing's stopping you.

If you know someone whose journey has inspired you, or if you have your own story to tell, email me!

You Might Also Like