You want to know what the worst feeling in the world is? Giving something your all, but still falling short.
Back in March, I applied for an extremely competitive internship with the Television Academy Foundation in Los Angeles, California. The requirements were extensive: application, resume, statement letter, transcripts, and two letters of recommendation. I spent hours and hours perfecting my materials before I mailed them off, and prayed for the best.
To my surprise, I made it as a finalist! I, Tirrea Billings, was a finalist for a PAID internship in LA! I was elated.
The last step I had to complete was a video interview answering multiple questions about myself and why I wanted to intern with the TV Academy. Honestly, I felt like I completely nailed it.
By this time, it was the end of May. I had been working on this for two months! I gave it everything that I had, and I was fully confident that I would be chosen.
For the past month, it’s really been bothering me. Yeah, I was a finalist. But I didn’t win. I felt like I was worth more than 2nd place. And it’s not that I feel like I didn’t try hard enough because I know I did. It’s the fact that I did try my absolute hardest and I still wasn’t good enough. I fell short, and I really let myself down.
Being the competitive person that I am, I’ve been asking myself what did I do wrong? What could I have done better? What do I need to improve on? Who got chosen and what did they do better?
Yet, after beating myself up about it for a while, I grew tired and knew that it was time to change my perspective and look at the situation differently.
For a long time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t discover my love for filmmaking until my sophomore year of college, and didn’t produce my first documentary until late last year during my senior year. I literally just started taking film seriously only 1 year ago.
And to make it as a finalist for a very competitive internship in LA after only doing this for a year says a lot. Then I reminisced on this past year, and really had to pat myself on the back.
My first documentary I ever made received an honorable mention in the 2016 Broadcast Education Association’s (BEA) Media Festival of the Arts – a highly competitive, national competition for student filmmakers. I’ve interned at several different locations, continue to receive a tremendous amount of opportunities for paid, freelance work, and I’m all over Western Michigan University’s websites and news for my work.
People are noticing me, and that’s an amazing feeling.
So, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I had to realize that my work is definitely not going unnoticed, and I have accomplished more during this past year than what some people have accomplished who have been doing this much longer than I have.
I had to realize that in this field, and in life in general, there are going to be times when you are told no, when you get denied, and when you give something your all but still fall short. And you know what, that’s okay. Though finally being able to catch a big break in LA would have been amazing and that $4,000 would have looked pretty nice in my bank account, I know that God has even bigger, better opportunities planned for me in my future. I just have to keep working hard and continue improving as a filmmaker.
Most importantly, I can never give up.
I also have to remember that this career is not easy at all, that there will probably be more times when I’m told no versus being told yes, and that I’m still young and new to this field! So I just need to relax. As long as I keep striving for greatness, I will make it to where I want to be: a director/producer for documentary films and advocating for more diversity and inclusion in the film/media/TV industry.
Lastly, to anyone reading this and to everyone that I know, thank you so, so, so much for your undying love and support. I am a very confident woman, but affirmation always feel good! Thank you for seeing my potential even when I don’t see it in myself. Thank you for your continuous encouragement and motivation, and thank you for believing in me and my dreams.
Celebrate your victories, and celebrate your losses. Actually, don’t even look at them as losses. Instead, look at them as opportunities to learn, grow, and become better. Don’t get discouraged because when one door closes, another door opens. You just have to keep striving for greatness, and want it for yourself.
I want it, and I will get it. It may not be right at this moment, but I will make it to LA, I will prosper, and I will reach heights greater than I’ve ever imagined.