I woke up this morning to a text from my grandma on what is apparently my six-year “anniversary” of moving my life to Los Angeles. It was definitely a cute text, however, see horrendous photo below. (I truly don’t know how I don’t look like that anymore but T God). Not the best sight in the morning. I knew a big milestone of living here was coming up. I could feel it because I started actually losing track of how many years I’ve lived here. It used to be a simple “one!” “two now!”. Then all of a sudden I had to sit and think…”Uhm five..? Wait I think six now?” HOW IS THAT NOT INSANE!? How have I lived in LA for SIX YEARS? That’s LONG, and I feel OLD. (I know I’m not okay). I’m also not really sure what age people start accepting you’re old but it probably isn’t 25 which I am currently. Either way, that doesn’t change that I feel a lot older than I did when I packed up my bags and moved across the country to work in entertainment just a couple weeks after my 19th birthday.
I always get a ton of questions asking “how I started” and it’s so weird to think about. On one hand, I barely remember the few months I lived in Chicago before leaving, and on the other, I feel like I’ve only lived in LA for a millisecond. It’s easy to let time fly, especially when you’re young and trying to make it. I moved to LA to pursue hosting and work at a production company, AwesomenessTV. I started out as an intern getting coffees etc. and soon began writing, assisting, and hosting on camera. I quickly couldn’t keep up with my online classes and got offered a full-time position on the ATV team, therefore, I stopped partaking in my class load. So I like to think I never dropped out, I just stopped….ya know! I got busy! I didn’t have time to take classes and needed the money from work to pay for rent not more classes. (I cried in our empty apartment asking for a $100 loan just to buy food till my next paycheck alright). But I also felt like I was living the dream! Interviewing movie stars (some nicer than others) and going to premieres. Being a full-time employee in “Hollywood” at 19 was definitely insane. I worked 24/7 and only knew people at the office and at my apartment complex. I remember getting close with my co-workers and wanting to do more on-camera work and less “desk” work. After all, I did move to LA to be in front of the camera not behind it. So after a few months with a ton of new knowledge and connections under my belt, I quit. I quit because I knew I had more to offer than sitting at a desk all day and I needed to prove it. Of course, I didn’t leave on bad terms, I wanted to work with ATV, just not in that capacity anymore. Luckily, they were my newfound family and supported me in every risk I wanted to take personally and professionally.
So to sum up the next couple of years let me break it down. I cried in my banged-up Prius, walked in quit. Began focusing on my YouTube channel and making friends. Partied. Started focusing on comedy and acting. Met a guy. Booked an ATV show BETCH that I would shoot for the next four years. Produced and starred in my first movie thanks to my YouTube channel. Got signed by an agency after the premiere. Fired a manager, hired a manager, fired that manager, hired another manager. Moved three times. Broke up with the said guy. Finally got my own apartment. Worked tons of different hosting and acting jobs. Made tons of YouTube videos and friends…
I think I finally found myself after of course the breakup, and after trying almost everything there was to do in LA. I figured out what I liked doing in my free time and what I liked doing for work. I love acting, I love creating, I love building a business. I feel smart, confident, and in control when I’m doing things I know and love. I feel happier, lighter, and supported when I’m around good people. I learned there are tons of different routes to take, but you get to choose which route is yours to take. You don’t have to do drugs, you don’t have to think you’re the most famous person in the room. You don’t have to go to every event, every night. You don’t have to get a ton of press to be validated. You probably won’t be validated for a lot of the work you do. You will find good people if you are a good person. And trust me, there are incredible people amidst the shitty ones. So don’t waste your time on the shitty ones. You will fail, obviously, but that’s a part of the whole story. You don’t have to pick one thing, you can do all of the things (even when older people tell you that you shouldn’t). You have to trust your gut, and not compare yourself to everyone else. You have to remember that most things are smoke and mirrors, not reality. And you don’t have to know what the next six years hold. You just have to put your head down and put in the work, and make sure you love that work.
I’m very grateful for everything I’ve made my life into in the past six years. I never thought I’d be living in a house with two dogs and have an incredibly supportive partner. I am my own boss and get to create a multitude of things and share them with such a supportive community. I’ve met and become close friends with some of the most inspiring women in the world. I think what I’m most proud of is that yes I’ve grown into someone I am so proud of, but I am truly still me. My Chicago accent peeks out after a couple of glasses of wine and I am unapologetically myself no matter what the situation (sometimes I really should filter myself). Yes, I have blonder hair and tanned skin, but I’m still the same girl I was when I got on that plane.
Featured image via HoneymoonHotelArt