I love the idea of filmmaking and storytelling. Always have, and probably always will. I love the way ideas, visions, dreams, come to life on the screen. The nuances in how emotion, setting, and ambience is portrayed in film. It’s something I could talk about for hours. And so naturally, when it came time for me to search for university courses, I couldn’t help but be drawn to film production, to screenwriting.
I went as far as to apply for a film school in Sydney for a diploma course, not really expecting much of it, but lo and behold, I got in. I actually got into my dream school. I was beyond ecstatic, couldn’t wait to share the news with my parents— because well, I hadn’t told them I was applying. Didn’t want them to get their hopes up in case things didn’t pan out.
But as fate would have it, my dreams of attending film school crumbled as quickly as they had materialised. My parents—notoriously traditional Asian parents, who wanted their only child to ‘do them proud’, didn’t think film school was the way. It wasn’t the law, business, or med school they expected their daughter to sign up for. It was shrouded in uncertainty and doubt. What would everyone say? What kind of parents would send their kid to film school? The film industry isn’t for people like us. And so, no matter how badly I wanted it, I couldn’t follow my heart. I had to stay behind. It was hard, I felt trapped, and it fuelled this dark bitterness towards them. It didn’t seem fair.
I often found myself thinking, how different my life could have been, if I was allowed to spread by metaphorical wings. Do the things I wanted to do. Would I have been happier? Would I have made a name for myself, now surrounded by incredible opportunities that only come with going abroad? It’s hard to say. On one hand, a part of me resents my family for clipping my ‘wings’, for holding onto me; but another part understands. I’m everything to them. They do all they can to make sure I have the best possible life. They truly thought what they were doing was in my best interests. I’ll admit, I didn’t have this epiphany immediately; it took me years to come to terms with their decision— to even accept it.
I like to believe that when things don’t go our way, we end up creating a new path for ourselves. I was left clutching the pieces of my broken dreams, desperately scrambling to find another road, and in doing so I found my way to Monash. It wasn’t the dream I had envisioned, but it quickly became something better than what I could’ve hoped for. This new path led me to discover my love for communication studies— something I wouldn’t have realised, had things happened differently. I found friends, built relationships, and had experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. It’s funny, past me would have jumped at the chance to rewind time, to do things differently. In fact, it was something she would fantasise about on the daily. But the me now? Well, she hardly cares. The me now is content with where she’s at. And I gotta’ say it feels fucking good to actually believe it.
So sure, I guess I didn’t get to learn the craft of directing, producing, screenwriting from my dream school. But why should I let that stop me? As cheesy as it sounds, where there’s a will, there’s a way. We’re in a world where knowledge is quite literally at our fingertips. So yeah—so what if I didn’t get to pick the path I most wanted. So what if my life could’ve been different? That’s what makes it life. We can plot our lives, try to set goals for ourselves in the future, and sure, we can always work towards that, but the beauty of life—living, is that everything about it is uncertain. The universe is pure chaos, and the littlest things can change the entire trajectory of your life. Isn’t that horrifying? Nerve-racking? Exhilarating?
Whatever it is, it’s what makes life worth living.
Written by Shau (ig: @shauranaeem)