Living in a calculated and straight-edged society can make endless possibilities feel like a pipe dream. It is easy to lose sight of what makes you happy when you are trying to please everyone else. We often hear the phrases “what do you do for work? Where do you go to school? What do you major in?” How many times have you been asked these questions, and similar? How many times have you been asked about where you see yourself in the future? Now, consider this: How many times have you been asked, “does the work you’re doing make you happy? How do these experiences make you feel?”
In high school, I was told that I would waste my potential by not going to college. These words at the time felt deafening, and filled my head with doubt. Regardless of the path you decide to embark on, being told that a decision you’re passionate about is wrong can leave a painful sting. I began to seek out answers from anyone but myself in moments of insecurity. I remember yearning to fit into various molds that never felt right. Despite this all, I couldn’t ignore the nudges that were pulling me in a different direction. The best experiences I ever had stemmed straight from spontaneity. And so I packed up my bags and moved to Los Angeles at 19 years old.
Now this wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I had an entirely different plan for my life mapped out prior to this decision. I would go to school in NYC, major in musical theatre, and continue my career afterwards. During auditions, (as Glennon Doyle writes in Untamed), I experienced a nudge that whispered “not this.” I just didn’t fit the mold that these schools were seeking out, and the schools didn’t align with the person I wanted to become. When I let go of the desperation to follow the path that others wanted for me, Los Angeles popped into my mind. Suddenly, the nudge felt stronger and surer than ever.
In the weeks leading up to the move, I was burdened with the thought “what if I’m making the wrong decision?” I discovered how truly terrified I was of failure; even though I didn’t know what the consequences would even look like. I just knew I was afraid to fail. As humans, we want to keep things orderly, we want control, and we want to succeed. But I finally thought to myself, “the wrong decision compared to what?” I had nothing to compare this decision to yet, because I hadn’t experienced life independently. I was lectured endlessly from people uttering the words “how will you pay your rent, it’s far too expensive out there, LA is fake, how are you gonna pull this off?” Stepping outside the status quo really opened my eyes up to just how boxed in we are as a society. And this needs to change. It is vital that our youths’ lives and ideas are acknowledged and heard.
Within a mere few months of being out there, I learned the most valuable, enriching, and realistic life experiences. With that being said, if I’m being transparent with you, Los Angeles is far more glamorous on television when you’ve never actually visited. Living there is vastly different from being a tourist. On top of this being my first ever move, this required hard work, and an array of challenges. Life revealed itself in some of its truest forms. I learned about the messiness, the imperfections, the little grand moments, feeling small and lost, discovering strength. I learned about balancing life, work, and play. The lessons that came out of it did not come easily; but that does not mean they were wrong. These adventures mean more to me than anything. I wouldn’t change this decision for the world. By listening to myself outside of all the noise, I discovered and learned more than I could have possibly imagined.
While taking a leap of faith may seem daunting at first, the newfound views of the unknown are quite spectacular.
Imagine taking a leap of faith right now; what is something you’ve always wanted to reach for? What does the ideal life for yourself look like? Listen to that. It’s a lot closer than you think. It’s easy to glorify and romanticize the idea of an “ideal, happy life”, as opposed to considering it an actual reality. You control the life you decide to create for yourself. Nothing is meant to be easy. Nothing is meant to be handed to us absentmindedly. We have to work for the goals we want to reach. But the work doesn’t have to be grueling and draining. The work can be fun if you allow it. And you’d be surprised at just how significantly life changes when you decide to make it your own.