A.K.A. Clark Kent

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I’m sad to announce that I am not Superman. I know this comes as a great disappointment to all of you, but mostly to me. Imagine my surprise to find out that I am not, in fact, invincible. I’d like to extend a few apologies before I write any further. First, I’d like to apologize to my mom – Mom, you’re not the problem, I am. Second, my apologies to my stepfather – Dan, you were right, I should’ve gone into agriculture. Third, to my high school guidance counselor – Mrs. D, I’m sorry, I won’t be able to invite you to my Oscar premiere. Fourth, to that very cute girl from Collingswood I met the night of my high school freshman dance at Ponzio’s Diner  – Megan (I think), I’m sorry my Robin Williams impression didn’t lead to us hooking up. And lastly, to all my unborn children – kids, I’m sorry. Your dad is being crushed by this world.

For the past week, I’ve learned the importance of not overextending myself. In my zeal to be a comedy writer, I signed up for five writing classes in a row – not realizing until later that I’d bitten off more than I could chew. Without going into too many extraneous details, here’s what happened: five writing intensive classes + fledgling comedy career = Matt Fried goes slowly insane. Taking on such a heavy course load sounded great around Christmas, when all of these classes became available. However, so did drunk-dialing my senior prom date to ask if she wanted to play bored holiday hook-up. I was able to make it to the fourth week of March before I started falling behind on work and losing sleep. So, I after weighing my options, I sucked it up and dropped one of my classes. I never drop a class. At least, not a class that I enjoy.

I enjoy writing funny things. Right now, I’m struggling to figure out how to get paid to write funny things. When I say “get paid”, I mean in a satisfactory amount that could cover the expense of two utility bills. So, being the eager student I am, I jumped into a weighty schedule when I already had a full set of professional commitments. In April alone, I already had five comedy shows booked.  However, none of that stopped me from putting the cart before the horse. This is a pattern I’ve developed in the last three years. It’s beginning to bother me. Because, it makes me wonder if I’ve turned into one of them. The overworked, undersexed New Yorkers who are more focused on professional satisfaction than personal happiness. To be straightforward: yup, I have.

But I can’t help it. It just happened. I feel that – if you take your career seriously here – it always will happen; there’s no way to avoid it. This is dangerous for me, because my best source of validation has always been in a classroom environment. I was that kid in high school who, knowing his strengths and weaknesses, took AP History and Lit courses and “not quite remedial” Math and Science classes. I didn’t want to be bothered by what wasn’t important to me. Good grades kept me sane. So, when I was considering a set of writing classes, I just assumed that my imminent excellent results would cancel out the imminent exhaustion. Nothing in any of this rationale seemed unhealthy until I decided to write about it.

Since I got into entertainment, I just assumed I was going to be famous; whether through performance, writing, whatever. I just figured that – as long as I did what I needed to do – everything would work out. But with that assumption came the idea of all work and no play. As a result, I sometimes worry about what opportunities I wasted to travel, see a concert, lost friends, possible girlfriends, etc. I’ve learned to not regret, but I still can’t help but look back and think “Dude, you were only 23 and just out of college. You could’ve taken time off if you needed it.” A work ethic has its pay-off, but not when you’re sacrificing your personal needs. Even Superman found time to go see his parents.

So, I guess that’s the great compromise of being a workaholic: your life or your career. Right now, I want to indulge myself and pretend that it does all fall into place. That, once I do sell a screenplay or publish a book, all of this work will have been worth something. And then, I guess after that, the wife and the kids will show up, too. Until then, I’m still on my own, still trying to not get ahead of myself. Always remembering that I’m still young, and I have plenty of time to do everything I want.

“Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”

Maybe one day, I will be able to save the world.


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3 responses to “A.K.A. Clark Kent

  1. Rachel

    Matt Fried- I relate to all of this a whole lot. When I was 8 I told myself I’d be a well-known published writer by 11, but unless the temple newsletter counts, I failed. I’ve had to reevaluate my measures of success since we were young all thinking we’d be movie stars and rock stars. It’s hard to keep the self criticism in check, and to find the balance between work, art and the experiences that feed the art.

  2. iammattfried

    Rachel – Agreed. It’s tough. But I’m beginning to learn that it’s the journey which is way more satisfying than the destination. Steve martin puts it best: “The course was more plodding than heroic: I did not strive valiantly against doubters but took incremental steps studded with a few intuitive steps.”

  3. Pingback: The Philly Spec « I Am Matt Fried.com

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