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I feel like a total failure. How do I move on from here?

In high school, I got good grades. I graduated with a 3.5 GPA. I got into some great colleges like NYU tisch, Syracuse, Pitt, UConn, PSU, etc. I'm the oldest of 10 kids, and from a poor family. My dads a janitor, and my mom is a waitress. I needed $7k/year to go to pitt (After FAFSA). My parents were broke and had terrible credit scores, so I wasn't able to go to school. I was working a full time job at 18, and couldn't afford it either. This led me down a path of depression and addiction. I'm now sober, and on the right meds. I'm about to finish my 2nd year of community college, and my grades are bad. I have a 2.4 gpa. I blew it. I went to getting into the best film school in the world, with a 3.5 HS GPA, to being a broke addict waiting tables. While I'm in a better place mentally. I'm still upset, and feel like I failed. I went from NYU Tisch, to a 2.4 community college gpa. I still want to make movies, but I have no idea where to go from here. Anyome have any advice? #college #life #general #film


Never give up. If you feel like you can do something to change the world, never forget that thought because on the hard days it may be the only thing that pulls you out of the mud. I know how you feel. I have felt so horrible before where I just did not want to get up and do anything, but those emotions pass and one day months or years from now you will remember how you feel right now and remember how much strength you actually have. It has been a tough year, and I promise you better years are to come. Rich D.

One of my favorite quotes, which I heard all the way back in second grade but still sticks with me is, "Show me a successful person and I will show you something they went through." No one makes it on the first try, or without failing at least a few times on the way. Remember that you are far from alone in this struggle and by no means a failure. You are in a better place than you were, keep your head up, keep yourself focused on your goals, and never lose faith in yourself. Nicholas Lynch

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John’s Answer

What if, starting today, you weren't afraid of failure and the word 'no' didn't stop you anymore? What if you realized that failure is the secret to success? As a matter of fact, it often is. Ask any high achiever in business (or in life) and they will likely tell you that some of their greatest accomplishments came from turning failures into successes. If failure is a vehicle that can take you to success, then courage is the fuel! Courage is a muscle. And, like any muscle, you must develop and strengthen it with lots of exercise. As the saying goes: Use it, or lose it. It's no different with courage. Use and develop your "courage muscle" by looking fear in the eye and taking action anyway. Each time you take action, the courage muscle gets stronger and your confidence and self-esteem become less fragile. When you don't, it atrophies. And before you know it your courage is gone. But it doesn't have to be this way. All the courage you could ever want or need to achieve every goal you have is already in you, just waiting for you to take action.

Find positive friends, mentors and co-workers. When you surround yourself with positive people, you’ll hear positive outlooks, positive stories and positive affirmations. Their positive words will sink in and affect your own line of thinking, which then affects your words and similarly contributes to the group. Finding positive people to fill up your life can be difficult, but you need to eliminate the negativity in your life before it consumes you. Do what you can to improve the positivity of others, and let their positivity affect you the same way.

John recommends the following next steps:

Start the day with a positive affirmation – Instead of letting this dominate you, start your day with positive affirmations. Talk to yourself in the mirror, even if you feel silly, with statements like, “Today will be a good day” or “I’m going to be awesome today.” You’ll be amazed how much your day improves.
Focus on the good things, however small – Almost invariably, you’re going to encounter obstacles throughout the day—there’s no such thing as a perfect day. When you encounter such a challenge, focus on the benefits, no matter how slight or unimportant they seem.
Focus on this one, individual moment – In most situations, you’ll find it’s not as bad as you imagine it to be. Most sources of negativity stem from a memory of a recent event or the exaggerated imagination of a potential future event. Stay in the present moment.
Turn failures into lessons – No One's perfect. You’re going to make mistakes and experience failure in multiple contexts, at multiple jobs and with multiple people. Instead of focusing on how you failed, think about what you’re going to do next time—turn your failure into a lesson.

Thank You Yoonji. If we talk about it, it’s a dream. If we envision it, it’s possible. If we schedule it, it’s real. John Frick

Thank You Natalie. In life lots of people know what to do, but few actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! We must take action. John Frick

Thank You Natalie. “Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.” – Erma Bombeck John Frick

Thank You Christina. “If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.” — Kofi Annan John Frick

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Malissa’s Answer

Hi Tyler!

I can completely relate. I am one of 8 children and a first generation college graduate.
I, like you, came from a poor family (+broken home) and struggled to know what i should do after highschool. I decided to start my first semester in community college but ran out of money and had to sell my car and drop out. I felt like a hopeless failure and had no where to go... after a few months I picked myself up and decided to go to a 4 year university. I changed my major 3 times and took 18 credit hours a semester as well as summer courses to catch up. I had three jobs and no car... it was a really hard time in my life. I felt completely lost and more like a burden than a real contributor to society but I knew that nothing was going to be easy for me because of my upbringing and because of that I developed a grit not many people have.
Your life experience and struggles make you stronger than you realize. Now so many years later, I've found an amazing career in New Relic and I'm proud of how far I've come but even in this new professional world old struggles are replaced with new. Life, although it's gotten better it continues to be hard. You just have to keep your mind and heart on the beautiful things life has to offer which i know is easier said than done. You have an advantage with your background. You have grit and tenacity many don't learn in their lifetime.
Always remember to be "less impressed, and more involved" I got that from Matthew McConaughey's new book but it's so important to remember. Also remember, "A master of all is a master of none".
We are all trying to be an expert in something while balancing a million other things, including heartbreak and hardship. You're never alone in this life, you can always reach out to me any time.

Malissa recommends the following next steps:

Feel free to find me on linkedin or social (Malissa Kagarice), I'd be happy to continue this conversation.
Read Matthew McConaughey's new book, 'Greenlights'

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Paul’s Answer

First, you are not a failure. You've had some successes and failures. You have shown that you can overcome barriers and obstacles. Pat yourself on the back - you've almost completed your 2nd year of school.

Remember, grades are only one indicator. I understand the frustration with academic problems. I had great grades in high school, but struggled academically during my 4 year college. I didn't feel great about myself. But once you recognize that your actions, your work ethic, and your desire to do a job well have much more meaning to an employer. You are in a rebuilding stage and that's okay.

I would start looking for any job in your industry. You are already working a manual labor job. Find one at a film studio or production company. Something similar, if need be. Do that job the best you can show your employer that you are a hard worker. Then once you have the associates degree, start looking for internal positions to transfer to. Internal transfers can be easier for employers because they already know you and will know your reputation of working hard. Then you can start working your way up to a position that you want.

On the employment side, be patient and look for moves to get you to where you want to be. It won't happen in one move, but several moves over time.

Good luck!

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Jonan’s Answer

Hey Tyler,

I'm in an unrelated industry but I wanted to drop you a quick note anyway. This sounds like it was a tough hit. I'm hoping you can step back a minute and try to get a little perspective.

While this feels like failure and the intensity of it is overwhelming, know that with time that sensation will fade as with anything. This is exactly the sort of story that you'll look back on someday as having been a defining moment in your life. It will either become a triumphant story about overcoming challenge or the thorn that you carried too long, holding you back.

You're young, the road is long. This is only the first of many challenges you'll face in your career and life, and it's most likely not the worst of it unfortunately. Focus on picking yourself back up and making the best use of the resources you have available. Find heroes, look for filmmakers who came from difficult circumstances and listen to their stories. You might find some inspiration here: https://filmdaily.co/obsessions/rags-to-riches-stories-film-festival-history/.

Beyond that continue focusing on your mental health. Meditate, exercise and do your best to stay in therapy. You're going to make it, that feeling you have that this is wrong for you is what separates you from someone who might settle into this reality. Keep following it.

Best of luck.

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Stacie’s Answer

First off -- be proud of yourself for where you are now. Congratulations! You are in a better place now as opposed to where you where beforehand. External success will come and go, but you how you approach the world will drive your future success. The past is the past.

Where you can go from now is limitless -- as long you keep a good head. So, pat yourself on the back. Reframe and ask yourself where you want to be in 3 years' time, then map about year 1, year 2, and year 3 to achieve year 3. Then break it down by quarter. The areas to identify are the following: (1) Who you want to be, What set of behaviors are needed to be this person including holistic activities for mental, spiritual, life (2) What you want to be doing and what skills you need to develop and what background you need to have; (3) What life you want to be living (then there's a spreadsheet for that).

Once you've mapped it out, then look at where you are in the context of this 3 year plan. Figure out what is needed to get to that school (whether it is improving the GPA, taking more classes, getting more experience, etc).

You are strong and courageous. Take your life experience and apply it to this problem. You will get there, but it requires a strong and intentional mindset and a set of actions.

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Clay’s Answer

First - congratulations on turning around your personal life. That is a really big accomplishment and something to celebrate and build upon.

As per feeling like a failure - Is making movies your definition of success? If not, then problem solved - there are many areas where you can apply yourself and excel - regardless of GPA. If it is, I would argue that you should expand your definition of success, but let’s go with it since that is the essence of your post.

It sounds like you feel like a failure because you don’t have a clear line-of-sight into graduating with a degree from a prestigious film school? Do you believe that your GPA and your past failures are reflective of your capacity to learn how to make movies? My guess is that you do not believe this, but you feel that others will hold this over your head and prevent you from achieving your goals. How many other film students, even with good GPA's do not succeed at making movies? My guess is that the number is really high. Some other very important factor is in play. Not having a background in film, I cannot guess what that might be, but I can pretty well assure you that your GPA is probably not the biggest predictor of success. Find out what factor is, and pursue that with abandon.

Hopefully someone else in this thread will be able to provide some tangible next steps - I suspect that is what you were hoping for with this post. In the meantime, focus on building perseverance (which you’ve already shown in other areas.) It is a powerful tool in helping you succeed - far more important than your gpa or school choice.

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Robert’s Answer

I feel you. I was in a bad spot a few months ago and took some hard work to get out of it.
Luckily you live in the age of the internet where information is readily available online. Universities are mainly good for networking depending on your major, especially for something like film. I would recommend creating an online presence somehow. Whether it's youtube, TikTok, or Twitter. Try and devote as much spare time as you can. If possible get a camera, but if not most phone cameras are sufficient. Just try and create content that you would watch, because chances are other people will enjoy it too.

This method is kind of a slow-burn but it will help you meet people and get your foot in the door. It'll also give you a nice looking portfolio. I would also look into signing up for some Udemy classes so you can learn a new relevant skill.

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philip’s Answer

Yeah, I think I know how you feel. The best thing is to remember that it doesn't matter how long it takes. What matters is that you keep going. And don't down play the experience you got along the way. You know what it's like doing manual labor, you know what it's like to give it a shot and fail. Don't let that discourage you. As long as you keep trying you'll make it eventually. Giving up is the only Real failure.

My path included doing 3 years at community college. Dropping out of university with a 1.6 GPA. Cleaning cars for 2 years, building furniture for 3 and going back to community college for part time for 2 years, going back to university and graduating on the deans list. Going from a 1.6 GPA to a 3.7 in the two years.

So right now, might not be your time, maybe what you're studying doesn't quite fit. But hang in there, keep trying and you'll make it.

If your school allows, you can try retaking some of the classes to get a better grade. Some colleges will completely replace the grade for calculating your GPA.

Good luck!

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Robert’s Answer

Tyler, you are NOT a failure. Life presents us with particular challenges that we ultimately overcome, but some take longer than others. I would suggest looking at what caused you to not be as successful in your studies as you would have liked so that can be addressed before you move forward. There are grants and scholarships available, but may require some individual research to determine what you would be eligible for. Some are merit-based and some are need-based, so a conversation with appropriate experts would benefit you. I would also suggest speaking with the Financial Aid department at various institutions so they can offer you resources and guidance. Above all, do NOT lose hope. Some roads take a long time to travel down and have a lot of bumps in them. It may sound cliché, but you don't stop at a speed bump, you slow down and go over it more carefully. As one who graduated with a 2.4 undergraduate GPA and also succumbed to addiction, I was able to overcome that, apply to graduate school, clean myself up, and graduate with a 3.8 GPA. Of course, paying those loans back took some time, but it IS possible. It may not be easy, things rarely are, but it can be done. Try not to focus on the negative and what could have been. Admittedly, I put a lot of money up my nose, but I wouldn't be this if I didn't go through that. Looking back with regret will make you crazy. Try to avoid that. Look towards the future. Determine what your goals are and actively seek the steps necessary to accomplish. Also, keep in mind the entertainment business is difficult to succeed in so do not let that discourage you if it is what you ultimately want. I was where you are and I can relate to what you must be feeling, but I am living proof that it can be done. Do you have a support system? Friends or family that can encourage you? That is important as well. Remember that you are in control and that you CAN do it, but it will take time so you'll need to have the perseverance to do it, but also the patience to allow it to happen over time. This is a road that is constantly under construction. Many schools will offer acceptance based on a provisional status so never think that all hope is lost. Talk to individuals at various institutions. Present your situation openly and honestly. Learn about what your options are. Seek alternate funding options such as private loans, deferred tuition, payment plan options, etc. Finances are always a bear, but the professionals in those departments are experts in that field so seek and you shall find, but most importantly, do not beat yourself up over this. Do not be your own worst enemy or you won't be able to get out of your own way. The future is limitless and career options are virtually unending. You can do this so go do it! Make it happen. You're the only one who can. And you will. Be patient, but perseverant. It will happen for you.

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Steve’s Answer

You're not a failure until you stop trying. Understanding where and how you dropped the ball in the past is the first step to moving onward and upwards!

Most people have a capable video camera in their pockets these days, so that's the first thing you would need to begin making movies. There are a bunch of free open-source computer applications for editing video, so you can create your masterpiece. If it's too much for one person at first, you could seek out other friends or an online community of like-minded creators that would be interested in working on a project together. Finally, you can post your creations to streaming sites like youtube for free.

The only thing you'll need is to figure out your story. It sounds like you have a lot of life experiences to share in this field, so you should be set. Good luck!


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Madison’s Answer

Dude! You got this. Nothing is a fail if you can learn from it, rise above it and pass your knowledge on to someone else. Heck, a lot of people in the film business never finished college, you're already ahead of the curve! Network yourself, use social media as for positive outreach. Right your own story!! You're more relatable than you think and your story isn't over. Keep your head up! You have a degree in life, pass it on!

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Rich’s Answer

If you can get sober, you can do anything. Film school can still be an option, but it's not a necessity. In the mean time start working on as many films as you can. Look for groups on social media and watch for job listings. It will be a lot of shorts and indies, meaning cheap-to-free is the pay rate. After you've done a few, start asking for more money - I wouldn't work for free on more than three projects. And if you want to make your own films, just do it - if you have a phone, you probably have a pretty good camera. Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh is making features shot on iPhone, so if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for you. Trade the work you do on other people's films for work on your own ("I'll work audio on yours if you'll shoot mine" kind of a thing).

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Ann’s Answer

My parents were not financially able to send me to school either. But one thing they taught me is that if you want something badly enough YOU can find a way to make it happen. I was a waitress too barely surviving and struggling to pay my bills. I found a company with tuition reimbursement and got a job with them in their quality control lab. My employer paid for me to go to college at night while I worked during the day. It was not easy but I really wanted to college degree. They paid 100% for an A, 80% for a B and 70% for a C. The reimbursement plan motived me to raise my GPA to 3.5! And when I graduated from Villanova University with a degree in chemistry I had zero debt plus I had real work experience. Having the BS degree from Villanova made it possible for me to advance my career.

You are going to make lots of mistakes in life. The important thing is that you learn from these mistakes and move on. Treat you life experiences, good or bad, as a learning experiences. YOU control your future - believe in yourself and find ways to make yourself happy.

Ann recommends the following next steps:

Please connect with me on Linked In if you want to discuss this further. Good Luck!!

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Sundar Rajan’s Answer

Contrary to what you may think/believe, from what you say, it appears that you have an impressive profile. You are not a failure. You have what it takes to succeed. You had a 3.5 and got into a lot of good schools! You did the right thing of trying a community college. The most important thing is you have that fire to succeed. Any disadvantage that you quote clearly cannot come in your way of seeing success (whatever that is and however you define it). You seem to have a passion but please don't lose the drive and fire that you seem to have. I can tell from what you state in the question that giving up is not an option for you. Take every opportunity, however small they may be and build a story about yourself. Network, Network, Network. Necessity is the mother of invention they say. In the same token, if you have the drive and passion, you will start seeing opportunities that may dodge some other eye! Many times opportunities are always around. We just fail to see. But if one has the drive and passion, he/she will start seeing them. You are going in the right direction. Let me know the first movie that you shoot. I will be there to see! Best wishes.

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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Tyler! There seems to be many great and helpful answers! I'd also like to add what I have learned/know. First of all definitely be proud of yourself for getting to a better mental place because it can definitely be difficult to pull yourself out of the hard times. You are not a failure because life can take us to unexpected spots; it can change us and while we have one path planned, we can completely go a different way. However, this does not mean that you have failed, it just means that possibly you need to reevaluate your options and you never know the beauty that may lie ahead. I don't know too much about film but personally I also know about setbacks and that sometimes it can be very difficult to look back and see how much your life has changed especially as you had planned it in one way previously. I would definitely keep pursuing your dreams though, I think if you still love film and are close to completing cc that is a start to something greater. I know it's difficult to not go to your choice of college but a little story that may help in motivating you further: One of my best friends actually got into her dream school but due to lack of financial aid she couldn't afford it-she would have had to take out too many loans and begin paying them back while in college-so she decided to go to cc for two years instead. In the end she did graduate from her first dream school but just took a different route. She's now even in grad. school and doing pretty well in theater design. You are about to complete cc and even though you may not have obtained the GPA you desired, it doesn't mean it does not count. That is still a degree and with completion of cc courses it will save you a ton of money in a larger university/college; definitely reevaluate your options for university and apply to the schools you once considered as well. The fact that you have overcome so much as well is definitely a story worth telling; you have accomplished so much nonetheless! Also one last side note, just because you may not be accomplishing your goals right away, it doesn't mean that you won't ever, if you need to take gap years -which many students have- to save money and make sure you are more prepared for the university life then that is fine. Do not rush and do not feel you are in competition with anyone, I say this personally because it can be difficult to see others getting to their goals while you struggle with yours, but it doesn't mean anything. Your journey is yours and only yours and there is nothing that could change it. Do not give up and keep seeking treatment with your physician/professionals so you may continue to get better. Give yourself time and remember you are not a failure no matter what!

I wish you the best and hope to see your creations on screen one day!

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yoonji’s Answer

Hey Tyler! My name is YoonJi and I'm the Director of Operations here at CareerVillage. I saw your question and I shared it with a college buddy of mine who did graduate school at NYU Tisch. Here's Sheldon C.'s response. I hope you find it and the many other responses you get to be helpful and encouraging.

"Don’t worry at all. You don’t have to go to film school in order to make movies. I’m a graduate of the NYU Tisch program myself. I went there for grad school. And while I made some of my best friends and colleagues from Tisch, most of the crew members I collaborate with on my films are not film school grads. They are usually passionate film-lovers who have a great attitude and display an impressive diligence towards the craft. My three closest collaborators - my gaffer (chief lighting tech), my 1st AC (main camera assistant) and my key grip - are all non-NYU folks. In fact, they’re progressing towards doing their own shooting now; becoming a cinematographer in their own right. From there, directing is not too far away.

Once you make great connections and you learn as much as you can on every film set you go on, you can then take from these resources when it’s time to make your own film. If you display an excellent personality and work ethic for those you crew for, then you can count on them giving you the same sense of effort when it’s perhaps their turn to crew for you. My biggest advice for you is to not get discouraged at all. Most of what we learn in film school is to be on sets anyway, so why not skip the expensive fees and the student debt and do this on your own? Find the best film schools around you, and get connected with a few students (I’d recommend graduate film students), and once you crew and show them that you’re an asset, it’s almost a guarantee that you will be called back. At NYU, we were always looking for people to crew on our sets - in a variety of capacities, so the opportunities are definitely there.

Keep your head up. Absorb everything around you - news, books, films. And once you get on a film set, demonstrate that you are valuable to the team. You gots it."

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Jill’s Answer

Congrats on getting sober!!! That alone is such a huge accomplishment! Life rarely follows a direct path. The life experiences, the determination, the growth you have demonstrated are skills that are needed in the film industry. You haven't blown it by any means. Yes, there are prestigious schools, but that doesn't equate to career fulfillment or life happiness.

I encourage you to find ways to participate in the film industry in any way you can. Get to know people in the field, learn about other paths to the job. Consider retaking courses to increase your GPA if necessary. If you can get sober you can do anything!!

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Vito’s Answer

You may feel like it, but you are not a failure. You are overcoming/battling your depression and your addiction. Plus, you're in a job that doesn't require you to do anything that's illegal.

I come from a totally unrelated field as you are. But I can totally relate to what you are going through. Just think of it this way: in a few years from now, with the way that you are going in overcoming your struggles, you'll think of this little 'set-back' in your life as a stepping stone to something great. It may not be where you initially envisioned yourself to be, but it will be in place you know you've made it.

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Jaycee’s Answer

You are not a failure! Look at how far you have come :) Your main focus right now should be to keep moving forward and don't let your past get you down. One part of change and growth is building a new lifestyle. You have to be able to find joy in the simple parts of your life and the rest will grow.

You can do anything.

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