It’s been exactly 2 months, 8 weeks, 56 days, (and so on), since I left my hometown and headed west, with no real direction and no real plan.
I’ve since packed my bags twice - from Albany to Denver to Los Angeles - and somehow grew from 2 pieces of luggage to 3, despite selling everything I thought I could sell. The pattern presented itself organically: I visited Denver once, then moved there, then decided to visit California, then moved there. It’s been interesting to say the least, and I’m sure not everyone understands my logic or actions, thinking I didn’t give Denver enough of a fair try. Sometimes places are a stepping stone and new opportunities present themselves - it’s as simple and as complicated as that.
I knew what I wanted at the beginning of this journey and that goal remains the same: figure shit out.
I want a job. I want to think about something, anything else besides looking for a job. I want my mind to wander. I want to feel optimistic about my potential. I want to build up my bank account. I want to pay back everyone that has lent me money or offered me a place to stay or bought me a beer when I didn’t have the means. I want to take myself out to a steak dinner and order not-the-cheapest-glass of red wine on the menu without feeling guilty about it. I want to someday offer advice that was given to me years ago by my friend Zoli - Leaving New York was easy.
Little did I know - leaving has since been the easiest part. I’ve learned that it’s the staying that’s the real bastard.
I’ve since learned that money disappears in Los Angeles quicker than I had ever imagined possible. I’ve learned that getting a job here is even more difficult than I care to express. I’ve learned that once you book a one-way flight, a career job will present itself in the wrong city. I’ve learned that once you commit to something, something else may happen to make you question it. I’ve learned that spending 8 hours straight applying for jobs will drive you mad - but it is a necessary madness.
I’ve learned that my family loves me, but they have done all they can to support me besides cheer me on and pray I don’t mess it up. I’ve learned my next course of action is entirely up to me. I’ve learned that my friends can’t always cheer me up - they aren’t wearing my shoes. I’ve learned that my friends will always be a text message away and won’t stop trying to make me laugh no matter what. I've learned what being 3,000 miles away and in a different timezone is like. I've learned that goodbyes can be really hard for some people, and sometimes you don't get the goodbye you desperately had hoped for. I've learned that not everyone I thought was on my team is on my team. I've learned to make peace with that. I've learned I can make friends in any city.
I’ve learned to triple check for typos on a resume, even if I’ve looked at it 100 times. I’ve learned to rewrite a cover letter every day for every position, no matter how tedious or annoying. I’ve learned to wake up early, even if there is no real urgency to. I’ve learned to stop comparing myself and my move to others - just like I learned years ago: there are as many ways to live as there are people. I’ve learned to stop daydreaming - I’ll have time for that once I'm working again. I’ve learned that walking is the best way to learn a city. I’ve learned to drink the most water I’ve ever drank in my life.
I’ve learned that one day I’ll laugh about moving to California with less than $40. I've learned that day is not today.
I've learned that I will always hold a puppy-like excitement and that the people worth knowing will recognize that not as weakness, but as a virtue. I’ve learned not to lose sight of deadlines. I’ve learned the beauty of a $3 bottle of wine. I’ve learned the importance of doing one productive thing each day, even if it’s just doing the dishes. I’ve learned I came here for a reason, and that it’s okay for that reason to be unknown right now.
I’ve learned to count my blessings and trust my struggle, more so now, than ever. I’ve learned new meanings for the words terrified, patient, clueless, survival, hardworking, spoiled, fortunate, stupid, grateful and self-forgiving. I've learned I must always keep writing. I've learned I've come a really long way in the past 11 months. I've learned to rule nothing out.
And most importantly, I’ve learned the best is yet to come.
If I don’t believe in that, I’ve lost myself and these lessons.