Sometimes, life surprises you. Scratch that, life pretty much always surprises you. That first sentence sounds like the opening to the new Ford Commercial, that somehow convinces you that life and cars relate. But anyway, things rarely go as you plan. You can sit back before you fall asleep and imagine it all working out the way you want it to, but to assume thats how life works would be silly. If that is indeed how life had worked I would have both turned into a Transformer when I was 10,and would have had 200 girlfriends when I was 13 (one of those isn’t true: I’ll leave it to you to decide.)
But anyway, now that we’ve established that life doesn’t go the way you always plan, we need to realize that goes the same way with opportunity. Opportunity is a fickle thing. It doesn’t always show itself, and it doesn’t always come from what you originally thought it would come from. It strikes in the most random of places, usually where you least expect. You can be working towards achieving a goal, and that opportunity might appear from something totally out of left field. I’ll give you an example.
This year during my freshman year of college, I’ve been trying to further develop my comedic exploits, along with my academics. Its something I had on my to-do list when I got to school: to further establish myself as something more than just a “struggling” Comedian (despite the urban legend that chicks dig struggling artists, which I believe I have disproved) and become a much more grounded, stable comedian. I’ve been performing at Open Mics for years now, but it was time to really jump to the next level: I had gotten a little complacent in the past few months and needed to rectify that. Unfortunately, this didn’t come without its challenges,like all good things worth accomplishing or doing. Between not being able to perform at some 21+ venues and getting a bumped a few times, it has been a tough road. I was at an impass comedically. I wasn’t sure what to do to really kick start my attempts at advancing further in the comedy ladder.
At this same point in time I was looking for a job. Upon coming to the realization that I had eaten Taco Bell four times in 3 days, I realized it would probably be a good idea for both my survival and my taste buds to start bringing in more income in an effort to upgrade to a much more consistent, better tasting Fast Food option. Taco Bell is to food as Carly Rae Jepsen is to music: You may initially think listening to “Call Me Maybe” is a good idea, but about halfway through the song you begin to regret it. The same goes for Taco Bell, which is one of few Fast Food chains that has implemented the ultimate secret ingredient: tremendous regret with a pinch of self hatred.
So through this job search I was alerted to a job opportunity on campus, to become a Student Ambassador. Basically the main part of the job is to lead prospective families on tours, as well as work in the Admissions Office. It seemed like the perfect fit for me: I’ve loved talking to strangers since I was a little kid (I was the bane of all those child safety videos) so leading a tour of a school I absolutely love didn’t seem that hard. I was fortunate enough to then get hired, and I was tremendously thankful for both the opportunity to be a representative of such a fine College, and also that I will never have to look at a Doritos Locos Taco Box with trepidation. But it got even sweeter from there.
A short while after I got hired, I got an email from my boss: it turned out that they were bringing in a couple of professional comedians for a prospective student event, and he asked if I wanted to do a 6 minute set before they went on. Now that might not seem like much: You could watch one part of a bootlegged movie on Youtube in that time frame, amongst other things. 6 minutes is a very miniscule period of time, until you put it on any sort of stage. 6 minutes is an eternity. Its enough time to really tell a story, to show people your voice and your skills. When watching any of the bigger comedians perform half hour specials on TV and such, always pay particular attention to the first 6 minutes: thats when the audience really gets going, and thats when the theme and overall arc of the comedian’s set will fully come to life usually. To be given the opportunity to do 6 in front of Edwin Li and headliner Joey Guila, two professionals in my passion was a tremendous honor to me: I was given the opportunity to showcase my skills, my voice, and my story in front of two people that were living my dream. Its not everyday that one gets an opportunity like that, and I did not expect to have that appear from this new job I had acquired. After the show, I was able to pick their brains about Comedy in general, and life as a professional comedian. I finally had my foot in the door: I’ve committed myself to this craft for several years now, but sometimes I felt like I wasn’t moving in any direction, stuck in neutral. With this opportunity, I was able to make a noticeable leap forward, and able to truly measure myself to people I looked up to.
My point is in life, you won’t always be moving forward the way you thought you would. Life will definitely throw you some curveballs, and the work you put into something may not immediately produce an outcome or opportunity to achieve a goal. Sometimes you have to get a little lucky, or look in a different place to find that. So be ready, work hard everyday no matter how hopeless it might seem: you never know when an opportunity will present itself.