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lean into the arts

Happy Monday! Prior to last week’s video recap, I wrote two blogs - “acknowledge your limits” and “pick your battles” - so if you didn’t get a chance to read them yet, check them out! Today’s post is about something sad that happened recently that also ties into a feature screenplay I wrote a couple years ago while studying at USC.

Have you ever met someone who doesn’t appreciate the arts? Or someone who doesn’t like music? These people are rare, but they do exist. The majority of people, however, have favorite artists, musicians, actors, writers - people they look up to and admire. The most talented, creative people I admire have a way of conveying emotion through their work that’s truly inspiring.

I’ve written a lot about goal-setting because it's something that's really important to me. A couple years ago I wrote a screenplay loosely based on my relationship with one of my foster sisters. Without giving away any key plot points, I’ll just say that the script really tries to convey that circumstances play a large role in someone’s behavior and decision-making. My foster sister had already returned home to her biological mother by the time I moved to LA, so she hasn’t really been my foster sibling for some time, but those types of relationships stay with you because they can be very meaningful.

There is one scene in the screenplay that was based on a real life event. My foster sister had been getting into trouble and doing some things she shouldn’t have been doing, so my parents had asked me to talk to her since I was closer in age to her than they were. I took her out to the local coffee shop and had her write down a list of goals for herself that she wanted to achieve. Her goals included making the Varsity Cheerleading team, getting onto Honor Roll, and going to college (no one in her family had been before). Even while I was away at college, my mom would call me just to tell me that my foster sister carried that list with her in her bag everyday. Although the results aren’t shown in the screenplay version, she did make Varsity Cheerleading and drastically improve her grades.

I truly believe life is a beautiful experience and that it is our connections and relationships that give life its beauty. I wish I could say that my foster sister went to college and was the first person in her family to graduate, but that wasn’t the case.

She passed away recently of a heroin overdose, leaving behind a son only a little older than a year. It’s sad. And it sucks. And it wasn’t the ending I’d written for her in my screenplay because it wasn’t the ending I wanted for her.

If you know me, you know how big a fan I am of "This Is Us." The past few episodes have been especially poignant given Randall, Beth, and Deja's storyline. I joke around with my roommate a lot using pop culture references to describe myself - "I'm so Randall right now" or "Ugh, Chidi just gets me" - but it goes back to the idea of talented people being able to write characters that feel real and relatable. Although I usually relate most to Randall because of his goofiness and terrible (read: amazing) puns, it was Beth's character I related to the most the past couple episodes because of how Randall said he was the heart and she was the head. It's difficult when you grow to care and love someone who you know will only be in your life for a short, unknown amount of time. But you give that love anyway. It's why that storyline is so important: it's so real.

That’s the thing about life - you can control yourself, your thoughts, and your actions, but you can’t control what happens to others. So on those days when you get sad news and don’t know if you can process all the information right away, lean into the arts and feed your soul. Write, draw, sing, dance, or listen to your favorite music. Knowing that someone else has felt the things you’re feeling is the power and beauty of human connection. We're all in this together!

Thank you so much for reading, and, as always, if you have any pressing questions or if you want to discuss something further with me, please subscribe below, follow me on Instagram or Twitter, or reach out to me on the “contact” page. I’m so grateful you're here and that I’ve been getting a lot of really challenging questions and even better feedback from a community all over the world. I couldn’t do this without you! So THANK YOU! I’m here for you, and I love hearing from you, too! You’re the best, and you have everything you need inside of you! Please believe it! Starve your ego, feed your soul - and follow your heart!!

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