Have you ever experienced a moment in your life when you suddenly realise that your dreams will never ever come true? In your forties, it’s known as a mid-life crisis. I went through it at 16, so I’m not really sure what you would call it, but it’s just as disorienting, no matter what your age.
Between finishing my GCSEs and starting my A-levels, I came to the realisation that living in a small village in the middle of the English countryside was going to seriously hamper my goal of working with costume and special effects make-up in the film industry. Up until that point, I had been convinced that I was going to happily live out my days on film sets turning humans into Hobbits, because, even though The Lord of the Rings had been finished, they were bound to make The Hobbit some day, right?
It could be seen as fortunate that I came to my senses right as I was choosing my A-level subjects, rather than later on. At least this way I was able to follow the advice of my elders and do a ‘real’ subject at University, something that required brain power and wasn’t a waste of my potential, in an area in which I could really do something useful for society.
Well, as far as the whole ‘doing what society expects of you’ thing goes, I think I can honestly say I’ve been there, done that, and got the silly robes and mediaeval hat.
Unfortunately, 3 years of undergraduate study and 4 years of PhD later, I realised how little impact one person can make in the field of medical science and how long it takes to make anything useful and worthwhile out of the breakthroughs that do happen. Don’t get me wrong, researching incurable diseases is a noble cause and very much worth the efforts of the best minds we can throw at it, but it wasn’t right for me.
In this day and age, it turns out the best way to impact the world is through those subjects that are most sneered at as you grow up; media, art, photography and film. The current generation is so visual that they simply will not take the time to stop and read to the end of an article unless there are pictures or, even better, video clips. The influence that the media has over the minds of the public cannot be underestimated. One thing I’m learning from studying photography is that even when documenting events as they happen, the camera is only telling part of the truth. The lens you choose, the angle you shoot at, the split second at which you press the shutter; all of these combine to create your own version of the event and show the world life as you see it.
For me, being given the opportunity to study video production and photography has been a real blessing. Learning new and different ways to communicate, especially ways that are relevant to the preferences of the current generation, is something that I value highly. How and where I use it once this school has finished is currently a mystery to me, but I do know that I have learned skills that have the power to influence others, and that I want to use them for something worthwhile.
One bonus of being part of a media school has been the unexpected opportunity to realise my teenage dreams. The film school here recently took part in a competition, in which you have to write, shoot and edit a short film in the space of 48 hours. I was asked to help out with set design, wardrobe and props, which was utterly exhausting and entirely brilliant. What made the whole experience even better for me was the fact that we were filming a thriller. Thriller = murders, and murders = lots and lots of fake blood. Luckily, 4 years of working with blood on a daily basis in the lab has given me a pretty good idea of what it looks like and how it behaves. I’m not sure how well this translated into reality with the limited time and resources at my disposal, but I did have an enormous amount of fun trying to formulate a recipe for blood that would include realistic clots.
This may all seem a little over the top and geeky, but I see it as evidence of God’s goodness. He knew my dreams when I was 16. He put them in my heart for a reason, and now He’s surprising me with them when I thought they were lost forever. It’s a reminder for me that He can work wonders in areas of my life that I’ve given up on, and I think that’s something that is true for everyone. Nothing is too big or too difficult for God to bring about, if you’ll let Him do it in His own time and way, so I’m going to keep trusting Him for even more extraordinary things.