John Walsh, the director of creative video services at Boston College, said discernment lies at the center of vocation seeking at an Agape Latte talk on Tuesday night.
“I struggled a lot with the tension between my head and my heart, especially when it came to [my] career,” Walsh said. “I want you to remember that it was full of a lot of self-doubt, uncertainty, and not knowing what was the right step forward, but through discernment, and through paying attention to certain experiences, mentors, and friends that really helped me to find my calling.”
Before Walsh, BC ’17, focused on film, he committed himself to accounting, he said. His first film for BC—a campus-wide music video synced to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off”— changed things for him.
“I couldn’t explain why but I just remember feeling very much compelled to make this film,” Walsh said. “It was the first time I experienced the joy of creativity, of creating something as I went around campus that week.”
Walsh’s video quickly became the talk of campus, he said. And then, something big happened: singer Taylor Swift thanked the makers of the video over Twitter.
“I’ll never forget the joy and elation of that moment,” Walsh said. “And the best part was that Boston College had shown this beautiful light where people from all walks of life, everyone from dining staff to maintenance to dance teams to administrators … was in it. It was just such a joy to be a part of that process.”
Soon after the video, Walsh became conflicted as whether to pursue accounting or film, he said. At a Halftime retreat, though, three questions posed by Rev. Michael Himes gave him direction.
“You probably know Father Himes’ three key questions,” Walsh said. “What brings you joy? What are you good at? Who does the world need you to be?”
Through the three questions, Walsh found that filmmaking brought him joy and let him make a meaningful contribution to his community, he said. Although he still remained unsure of his future, Walsh felt encouraged by his professors and mentors to pursue his dreams, he said.
Walsh accepted an unpaid internship at Hill Holliday, a marketing agency, he said.
“It occurred to me that this might be more of an environment that I want to work at,” Walsh said. “I remember that, that fall, I soaked up video as much as I could. I was relentless about learning.”
Then, the University gave Walsh a job offer.
“I was so excited,” Walsh said. “I really had my eye on this job for a long time. But it still gave me pause. I was still torn between my head and heart because I had to make that decision and commit. On one hand, I had a road mapped out five years down the line, knowing the opportunities I could give for myself and my future family. On the other hand, my heartstrings were pulling on this newfound passion that I really loved, but was very unproven.”
While making a film about himself, Walsh realized he would only be happy as a filmmaker, he said. In his BC role, Walsh has produced many types of films for Boston College, from admissions videos to student profiles.
Walsh ended the talk encouraging students to have faith in their own life journeys.
“When you think about your own journey with the head and the heart, the challenges you’re facing and the tough decisions you have to make, have faith that providence is at work to end that tension,” Walsh said. “Have faith that that tension is actually drawing you to a better version of yourself that you might never have imagined.”
Featured Image by Aditya Rao / Heights Staff