Through the Stones

I’ve been preparing, mentally, for this post. A part of me knew it was coming, but I kept putting it off because news of the future became elusive.

Besides placing the documentary on my priority list, I realized I was doing it again — putting myself second. I dove head first into a project that I am passionate about, but it ultimately meant sacrificing pieces of my life that I had before — time with friends and family, time with myself, financial stability, and ultimately, my future.

I remember the first documentary took every ounce of strength I had left. It was a sanctuary for the grief I bared through my divorce and lack of quick healing (you know, that plan in our heads that we will all be healed within an expected time frame), but it also halted my life. I couldn’t move on. I constantly dedicated my life to advocacy but with no path pointing forward. Pure survival has been my correspondent for about eight years.

Eight years is too long.

And last summer, I flipped my life over in order to sink the boat I was surviving in. It wasn’t going anywhere — it just kept me out of the water. What I didn’t realize was that I needed to swim. I needed to brave the dark waters, no matter what they held. I was tired of waiting around for something to float by. Rations were running low and I didn’t recognize the landscape around me.

So here I am, swimming. Rather dog paddling, sucking down salt water, but it’s swimming. And with the swimming comes some grander news. It scares the hell out of me. It’s the land I see ahead, yet it’s going to take many more strokes, energy, and letting go to get there.

Sylvia Plath once wrote, “God how I ricochet between certainties and doubts.” I write all of this with a lump in my throat and panic vibrating in my chest, yet tethered is hope, courage, and quite frankly, pride.

Short backstory before the reveal.

Before I had the crazy idea of completely abandoning ship and floundering for my life to an unknown destination (is that still considered coddiwompling?) I was sat on my couch mending a broken leg, skin peeling and burning off of my body. As you can imagine, a lot of time was spent alone. Sometimes I craved the solitude, sometimes my heart screamed into the empty void. But while this occurred, I began watching a Starz show called Outlander.

Now, my mother had raved about this show forever. Five seasons had already been made, myself far behind in the episodic UK adventures between a red-haired (and ridiculously handsome) 1700’s Scottish Highlander and Claire, a combat nurse from the mid 1900’s who accidentally fell through time at Craig na Dune. She pressed her hands against the stones and miraculously landed herself back in time.

The whole show is about how she navigates the realization that she may never go back to the 1900’s, and over time, if she even wanted to go back.

I don’t know why, but I connected with that. I saw the struggle in each decision she made. To love pieces of each time, love men from each time, but ultimately having to make a choice. I knew that I needed to make a choice — to stay stagnant and accept life as it was, or to risk everything, possibly lose it all, in order to save my life.

I began to make moves. I started saving money for the trip of a lifetime. I knew I couldn’t fall through the stones at Craigh na Dune, but I could come close. I needed to sit on life’s electric chair and zap my way back into existence. My health still wasn’t great, my mind even worse, and my summer 2022 trip to the United Kingdom revived so much of that. I got to see friends, write, but most of all, visit Scotland.

I’ll spare all of the details, but the universe threaded a piece of Scotland into my heart. Through signs, experiences, and opportunities, I came to a cross-roads. I wasn’t sure if my hopes and dreams would come true, but I took a leap of faith and applied for something I never thought I was good enough to get.

But I did.

Last week, I made this part of my vision board turn into a reality.

I’m moving… to Scotland. To be more precise, I am moving to Scotland because I got into the University of Edinburgh’s documentary film program. It’s a one-year masters, nauseously expensive (still working on that front), but it offers me four beautiful things:

One, the knowledge and foundation I’ve craved in order to make film. I’ve heard the sentence “you don’t need film school” regurgitated more times than I can count, but I need it. I am a forever student at heart, and having hands-on, real life experience from mentors offers me more than YouTube University ever can. I can’t knock YouTube, but in person opens a lot of doors.

Two, speaking of doors, the networking and personal connections will be incredible. I’ll get to go to film festivals, be surrounded by like-minded individuals, and most of all, learn how I can elevate this second documentary. Still Preventable is still very much on the list of things to accomplish. But, I need this shove towards the future for me.

Three, this shove towards the future comes with a cool addition. I could have applied to anywhere else in the country, but Scotland called in more ways than one. I don’t want to just learn narrative documentary, but to spread awareness through it. In this program, one of the professors is vigilant in the health world and created a tract that is highlighting Film and Medicine. It’s an entire course on marrying the two. Other medical students are allowed to participate. It excites me to no end.

And four, since spring of 2021, the UK opened its doors wider to us alien graduates. Now, after graduating from the university, I have the further opportunity to stay by applying for a Graduate Work Visa. It’s more money (Lord, help me), but I would be able to stay an extra two years to find work. And if I do, I can gain sponsorship, which means switching over to a Work Visa, which means I can stay. Like Claire, I can make the choice to either continue my quest in a foreign country, or to go back to the familiar.

If you’d like more of an explanation, you can watch my reveal video, here.

There are a lot of hurdles ahead for me. Some may affect the documentary, but overall, this is the scariest most precious thing I can do for myself. I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t swim towards this life altering opportunity. I can live with the notion of falling on my face, losing all of my money, and flying back to the United States with my tail between my legs. On the contrary, I could never continue on with the regret of passing this all by. I’d miss all of the adventures never had, the knowledge never gained, and the future squashed by my fears instead of exalted by my passion.

This is me battling my crippling imposter syndrome. This is me standing naked in front of a crowd.

This is me, pressing my hands against the stones.

One response to “Through the Stones”

  1. Congratulations Briana! Enjoy the ride, you’ll do amazing! Great to see you LIVING again!

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