Five Questions: Gaby Soufo
Gaby is a film editor and photographer. We first met in Santa Monica on a day when everything coalesced in this strange and amazing Five Questions-esque vortex. Let me see if I can explain this clearly:
I was meeting with Bernice and Manny (both former Five Questions guests) at a coffeehouse to brainstorm ideas for Bernice’s TEDx Culver City event, Manny’s Kindness is Badass project, and my 5Qs. During our meeting, in walked Andrew and Tony (both of whom—you guessed it—are former Five Questions guests) who then joined Bernice, Manny, and me for our brainstorming session. A short while later, one of Manny’s friends popped in for a coffee, saw Manny and our crew laughing it up, and joined in on our hang sesh. That friend was Gaby. Whew!
Anyhoo - Gaby and I caught up to chat about insecurities, breaking the cycle of bad habits, and responsibility with love. Meet Gaby.
What is your greatest fear?
I kid you not, the other day I was at my gym—we had a mixer—and we’re all sitting around, a bunch of us, and I was talking to my friend Ali and we’re talking about how we hate small talk. We’re sitting at the bar, like two drinks in, and she’s like, “What’s your greatest fear?” [Laughter] I was like, “You’ve gotta be kidding me!” [Laughter] So we talked about irrational fear and for me, I just don’t like creepy ghost stuff. I don’t mess with scary movies and all that. But deep fear…and it hasn’t changed since Saturday with Ally, but for me it’s failure to do something that I love. And being dedicated and having a passion for something and then not being good. I’ve noticed over the past ten years, out of high school, and seeing people get into their crafts and having a voice in what they do, is that I always feel like I’m playing catch-up. I’m worried as a photographer, as a video editor, you work on a project and think, “All right, I did a good job.” Then you watch someone else who is making commercials for Google and you’re like, “Oh, I’m not at that point. Am I good enough?” There’s a fear of doing something I love and it’s not going to pay the bills. Or I’m going to hit a dead end. Because then…what the fuck do you do for the rest of your life? [Laughter] If you strike out at something that you love?! I’ve been lucky so far!
What does failure look like to you?
Failure is giving up. It’s giving up [on something] and still having the drive to do it, but putting it away. At the end of the day, regardless of how I feel, I should always try. Keep on working. The day I put down my camera because I’m intimidated or I’m in my head too much, that’s when I fail. When I let external factors dictate what I love to do. There are things that, over time, you might love but you have to put away, like sports or something physical, but art doesn’t relate the same way.
Me: Due to physical limitations. You can’t do a hundred push-ups anymore because your body is deteriorating.
Gaby: Exactly. But if it’s something that you love to do, failure is putting it down when you still have a passion for it.
What's one thing you don't know now, but feel compelled to know before you die?
The rub of humanity is that you always learn something and you’re like, “I wish I told my seventeen-year-old self that. I wish I told me a year ago.” The things I know right now, I wish could spread that knowledge to my past self. But you can’t.
I know I’m going to come into experiences and I’ll learn the lesson, I’ll be glad. Part of me just knows that there are certain things that are beyond my realm of understanding.
Me: Like what?
Gaby: People ask the cliché, what’s the purpose of life? Why am I here? Do I have a set purpose? Maybe I do. But who’s to say my purpose is supposed to be some grand thing. Who’s to say my purpose is supposed to be the Bill Gates Foundation or giving billions of dollars to the world. Whereas there are so many things that happen in our day-to-day that we contribute to, so then I can go down the rabbit hole…what if one day you say thank you to someone—the butterfly effect. You do something that helps someone else and you don’t realize it. I would hope that me living a good life or being a good person…that has some kind of effect on people. So I’m not too worried about what my goal in life is.
Maybe later in my life it’s something I’ll continue to work on. Like confidence in myself, confidence in what I love to do, who I want to be. I’m curious if it’s just going to keep on growing—I don’t think I’m going to plateau…
Me: I gotcha. So have you ever gone through a difficult period and been like, “Whelp. Here I am again.” Like where you’ve not grown?
Gaby: Yes. For me it always revolved around relationships. I always found myself falling for the same kind of girl or going into the same situation where I wasn’t learning my lesson. I would heal my heart, then get right back into it. I felt like I was in a loop and for a long time I wondered, “Why can’t I break the cycle?” And as much as I told myself, I was learning little lessons from them, I felt like I was doing the same thing, there was really no difference. The only difference is she’s taller or shorter…
Me: …brunette, blonde…
Gaby: Exactly! But she’s still breaking my heart…
Me: …not the right type…
Gaby: Yeah, exactly. That’s where I’ve felt a lot of stagnation, but it’s changed in the past couple of months which is a great feeling. It makes you realize that it all does amount to something.
I think with work, I keep on forgetting there are certain projects that I’ve done and I’m proud of and then all of a sudden, I get presented with something else and I’m nervous and scared and timid. But it’s like, “Wait, no, piggyback the confidence. You’ve done it before, you can do it again.” So there’s that cycle of insecurity and I’m worried that I’m not going to be good enough. That’s why I’ve been at my current job so long. I wonder how much of that is comfort or complacency. Like, “I’m good there, I’m fine!” But I’m not pushing myself because I’m afraid of the change. It’ll probably always be there. Maybe it’s something that you learn to deal with, you learn to shush those demons.
Me: Do you feel like it’s not necessarily demons, but it’s your fears? And is that what you mean by demons?
Gaby: Yeah, exactly. Your fears, your worry…you’re comfortable. A part of it has stemmed from my parents. They were very conservative, very safe. My dad was always the type of guy who said, “You have a job, you stick with it! That’s it! You stay there until you die!” And there’s a generational shift. You see the differences between us and our parents. Especially mine, coming from the Middle East, that’s how they were raised. And here, I would love to give myself to a company and be that rock, but I don’t think companies today have your back for the next 20-30 years. I hate to say it, but it’s the truth. It’s easy to get stuck in it, those fears. But I wonder, if my ass was over the flame, what would happen? I hope I never have to deal with it, but if it were to happen, you just have to do it.
How do you define being “in love”?
I feel like I’ve been in love before, but I’m not sure if that was love. I have been infatuated and I have fallen in love with a girl that I immediately saw a future with and I can’t doubt that connection. It was very real and it was something that I will forever hold on to, but is that love? No, I don’t think so because it was very much one-sided. It’s infatuation, it’s very dreamy and romantic, but it’s not love. If the other person feels it too, then I think we’re getting somewhere, but that’s a tough one that I don’t know. I hope that I’ll know it when I feel it. But I don’t know if I’ve necessarily had it yet.
There’s so much pressure for your significant other to be your one and everything—which I don’t want that to happen. It’s hard for one person to have all those different…
Me: I feel the same. I felt in previous relationships, I had to be everything to her. I had to be her boyfriend, her mentor, her butler, her driver, all these things. And you can’t do that, right?
Gaby: It takes a village.
Me: Yeah, exactly. So it’s an interesting point you raise. This person isn’t responsible for all the love I can receive or give. That’s unfair. I don’t know if a lot of people recognize that. I date. And some of the women I’ve dated—everyone’s different, and I’ve been guilty of everything I’m about to say—a lot of the women I’ve dated feel like it has to be right now. “I have to be in love with you right now.” And it’s like, “Well, I don’t know you. And I’m not going to be in love with you right now.”
Gaby: And that’s how I feel now. My past was very much that falling in love so fast. And now I’m enjoying the moment so much. I think saying you love someone should be held to a high regard, it should mean something more. Love is such this massive concept and idea that gets applied to so many people, places, and things, and each one has a different definition. I’ve yet to figure out the common thread that brings them all together. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll learn that.
Me: We’ll do this again in ten years…
Gaby: Five More Questions!
Me: Exactly! [Laughter]
What will you miss the most when you’re gone?
I appreciate a lot of the things around me. I appreciate the weather, the beach, my friends…I really try to enjoy the simple things as much as I can. It’s nice to travel and go big and buy expensive stuff, but at the end of the day, life rotates on the little things throughout our life.
I think when I’m gone I’ll be in a great spot, I’ll be happy.
Me: Where will you be?
Gaby: No idea. No idea. I was born and raised Catholic, maybe there’s a heaven. I’m still figuring out my own faith on where I go next. Life is tough enough as it is, I’m just trying to focus on the finite time that I’m here. I’ll miss the relationships, I’ll miss the people. I can go and sit by the beach or travel the world, but I know that unless there’s someone by my side—a companion or friend—just to share the moment, that’s what makes it great. The connection. Realizing that we go through this world kind of on our own—it’s our own little book, but everyone has their story and that’s what ties everything together. So yeah…it’s the people.