• Kino McFarland

A Decade as an Adult

Initially, I wanted to avoid writing a decade recap. I felt like no one cares about me or my accomplishments and I know I struggle with seeing anything I've done as a legitimate accomplishment. The latter is what has driven me to actually write this up. I know that even after writing this, I will still struggle with feeling like "enough," that I matter, or whatever, but supposedly this is a recommended step in self-esteem building and something I have semi-regularly practiced, despite its effects only lasting a short while. Anyway, onward.

The period between 2009/2010 and 2019/2020 is maybe when "adulthood" actually seemed to exist to me. In 2009, I was 23 and had been living with Christopher for a year. I was attending film school at Wright State University and doing moderately well in my classes, but I was very angry about repeating much of my previous associate's degree education and being told that I wouldn't have as much skill as students who had never even touched a camera before. I still don't understand why I accepted attending that school after that meeting because the whole thing made me feel terrible for the two years I attempted to stick it out.

In any case, in 2010, I decided to drop out. "Drop out" seems like a failure term, but I really don't see it as a failure. I just see myself coming to my senses and moving on. Christopher and I packed up our apartment, took 90% of our stuff to storage, and lived on the road with the sideshow for a month. This was my first taste of a legitimate city-to-city tour and it was, indeed, a learning and growth experience. I learned so much about not only myself on this tour but other people as well. It was also my first official year as a vegetarian and then vegan and that alone made my interactions with people, especially in the southern United States, strained.

While on this tour, we did a lot of shows with The Rhinestone Ropers on the carnival circuit. They had horses, and since I grew up riding and being 100% horse crazy, the horse bug bit me again. I have not stopped being obsessed with horses since and every time I have tried, it ended in depression.

The following year was a bit odd for me and I don't remember much of it at all, but I know my depression started coming in at full force. After the tour, I started splitting my home life between Christopher's parents' house and my own parents' house. I still didn't feel like I had a home, I hadn't unpacked from the tour or putting stuff in storage, and I still lived out of a backpack. I thought I would move away at any moment. That moment didn't come until 2013, well-after I got married, attempted suicide, started grooming for polo, riding horses again, started attending school online, received my first feature film credit, and months of therapy.

At this time, I talked a lot about moving to the west coast. Portland was the most likely candidate and my therapist pushed me into believing that the move was something I needed. Maybe it was something I needed, but how I went about it was not ideal. I found a total stranger online who needed a "working student" (basically a horse trainer's intern, but not treated nearly as well as an intern, if that's even imaginable) in Woodinville, Washington. She said I should come out to the farm and she would give me a try. Me, being a broke sideshow performer who was not getting nearly as many shows as I wanted or needed because of a variety of reasons, decided to buy one-way plane tickets to Washington. I packed only my riding gear and left right away. Christopher came with me because he's never been unsupportive of any of my ridiculous decisions.

One month went by and the trainer said she was so glad to have me around and that I didn't go back to Ohio. Two months went by and she started acting very strangely toward me, as if I couldn't do anything right but never told me how to improve anything and that I needed to figure it out myself (despite the title being working STUDENT). Three months went by and she cornered me in the barn, listed maybe 100 things I had done wrong since I had gotten there, and I told her I quit after she said my explanation was "bullshit.' Not to mention, she had hired my replacement two weeks beforehand without even telling me she was planning to get rid of me. This person told me, herself, that the trainer said I was planning on leaving. I wasn't.

So that night, I messaged another total stranger online and he picked Christopher and me up. He and his wife took us in for two years, but we never actually "lived" there as it was an extremely bizarre situation that was being led by yet another abusive narcissist. I have an entire blog on this experience and one day, I will publish it as part of my memoir. Basically, one not fully thought out decision led to more and more crap in my life. Yet somehow, my husband stuck with it despite all the insanity, blood, and tears.

While couch-surfing, I graduated with my BFA in creative writing as Valedictorian and Advanced Achiever. This felt huge to me at the time because I had never been "the best" at anything in my life as far as I knew. Being recognized for something felt good. During my last few months of my BFA, I began seriously pursuing filmmaking again, starting with the 48 Hour Film Project. My first film, "Hangry," didn't get much fanfare, but the audience reaction was priceless. "The Beasts of the Earth" won a few awards which felt validating. Since then, I started making at least one short film a year (outside of the "52 Films Project").

In 2015, Christopher and I finally got our own apartment in downtown Seattle. I freelanced more regularly in media creation and was given the opportunity to create some cool things, but eventually was dropped without notice or critique, so I never felt like I knew what to change to make things better. I could only assume.

I made several more films, which have won awards and screened internationally. I worked on films with new friends and old idols. I returned to therapy, returned to the horse world, left the horse world again because of clashing personalities, went through a lot of doctor and medication changes, but because I had a place to call home, things somewhat stabilized even though they didn't feel like it. I performed sideshow without the support of a troupe, was published (a lot- this actually started in 2010), returned to school for my MFA, which in 2019 I received and was once again Valedictorian and Advanced Achiever. I won a contest to visit Full Sail University's campus for Hall of Fame Week, and two weeks ago, I moved into a one-bedroom apartment after living in a stuffy studio for nearly 5 years.

It has been a ridiculous decade and despite a lot of it having been incredibly hard on my mental well-being, I wouldn't change it for anything. As for the next decade, I don't necessarily wish for things to settle down. I love excitement. My doctor says I am 100% an adrenaline junkie. However, I would love to learn how to actually relax without worry, forcing myself to work, or trying to improve. Sometimes I want to just exist, but I do not know how to be okay with that. Despite being an introvert, I have an inherent need to leave an impression.


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