Friday, September 20, 2013
Shit Happens: Why I Left LA.
In December 2012, I made an abrupt decision to say goodbye to Los Angeles, a city that had been my home for six years. I didn’t have a plan, but I knew that I’d figure it out once I moved back to my hometown in Honolulu. There were all sorts of reasons that led up to this decision, but the greatest of all was the realization that my dreams of pursuing a career in entertainment had died.
To be honest, my dreams had been dead for several years. I was so stubborn and couldn’t accept that the thing I thought was my purpose in life, well, wasn’t. I became jaded by Hollywood. Nothing was exciting anymore. I’ve met heaps of celebrities, gone to red carpet events and acquired several accolades I never thought was possible. However, at a certain point, all of that shit lost its luster. I found myself staring at a blank corner of my apartment every morning asking myself, “Why do I even bother?”
One of my girlfriends sat me down one day and said she thought I had clinical depression. In response, I told her, “well, my dreams are dead and I don’t know what do with my life, I’d surely have some sort of mental illness if I wasn’t depressed.” We never spoke of it again.
I was one of those very generic cases. I moved to Hollywood right after college to pursue my dream of being… something. Like many fame-hungry hopefuls, I had no plan and no talent. I started my quest at UCLA where I studied screenwriting because I was convinced I would write my own screenplay. As a naïve narcissist, I was completely delusional and thought I was special. It would be only a matter of time until someone figured out I was amazing! Hahahaha!
While every person is indeed unique and wonderful in his or her own right, not everyone has a Lifetime special-worthy story. I soon discovered that I was just a small fish in a HUGE pond of other idiots who also thought they were meant to be anything but ordinary.
For me personally, I know that I’ve struggled a lot with the way people have perceived me. It was frustrating that society couldn’t see beyond my physicality and was sometimes cruel to me. As a person who struggled with adversity, I wanted to live the words of Gandhi and “be the change” I “want to see in the world”. Instead of volunteering at youth facilities or furthering my education in social change, I just wanted to be rich! I also wanted the ignorant people from my past to eat shit for being mean to me.
The truth was that my heart motives were very ugly and far from genuine. I wanted to gain notoriety because I felt so powerless growing up in a society that constantly viewed me as insignificant. I needed therapy, but instead chose to hustle through years of horrible open mic nights and subjecting myself to the worst form of rejection: auditioning.
As with most things that aren’t a good fit, the hustle eventually became laborious and I found myself utterly depleted by my efforts. I didn’t want to accept that everyone was right and I was truly a failure. My dreams had died and I had no one to blame except for myself. After six years of playing the game and tarnishing my name (such an idiot for not establishing a stage name) I decided to call it quits and move back home.
My 22-year-old self would be horrified by my current status in life. I’m 29, unemployed and living with my parents. After months of submitting resumes and being rejected after several interviews, I’m still jobless. Although I’ve been fortunate to maintain a few freelance gigs and manage a fledging online business, it’s still uncomfortable when I get the inevitable look of disappointment when I tell friends/family that “I’m still looking” (i.e. not making enough to move out!).
My first three months back in Honolulu were pretty depressing. I ate a lot of potato chips (had to buy new pants) and caught up on a lot of TV series I had neglected over the years. While it wasn’t the most productive season, I gave myself permission to be sad while I locked myself in my room and submitted to countless jobs and trying to find my place in a city I didn’t really know anymore.
I eventually pulled myself together a bit and started to take care of myself again. I started to shift my focus away from junk food and onto aqua aerobics and meditation. I started learning about mindfulness and worked on applying its principles into my current situation. Instead of seeing this turning point as one of the most disastrous moments of my life, I saw it as an opportunity to move forward.
Over time, I started to see things differently. When shit happens, it doesn’t have to be complete devastation. It just is. Sparing some time to feel the sadness allowed me to confront the situation in a realistic view. The more I reflected, the more I realized what had led up to this point and how I had control to decide how I wanted to interpret it. I had a choice: continue to drown myself in self-pity and potato chips or accept that life had changed and move forward.
People still give me a lot of shit about “giving up” on my dreams. While I may have quit a life in entertainment, I didn’t quit on life. I decided to cut out a part of my life that was no longer working. There is a significant difference between giving up on something that has life and something that no longer has the capacity to grow (DEAD). The act of giving up isn’t just a black and white concept. There are several grey areas. For the most part, people can sense in their gut where they stand within the greyness.
My Mom occasionally asks me if I feel I should’ve come home sooner. I always tell her, “no, I wasn’t ready.” There is always perfect timing to every decision we make. While our personal timelines may not be in alliance to a conventional scale, there is never time wasted.
I know for sure that if I had sent my 22-year-old self a slideshow of all the devastation (and awesomeness) she was about to endure in Los Angeles, she would still go. I’m grateful for my time in LA. I made lifelong friendships, experienced an unconventional lifestyle and gained an education that could never be taught through any textbook. While I’m currently in a less-than-favorable (it can get pretty shitty!) season at the moment (by a conventional gauge), I am so grateful for the beautiful lessons I’ve learned and excited for the ones ahead.