It doesn’t escape me that I’m writing from my third place of residence within the last year. I’ve gone from a 400 square foot studio with no A/C in Hollywood, where I was humbled by my daily walks past the homeless, to a one-bedroom guest house in the Valley that had all the luxuries (e.g. air conditioning and my own washer/dryer) to a 200 square foot bedroom in a house that I share with six other people, mostly over the age of 50. And yet—despite all of the transition and lack of stability, I’m the happiest that I’ve been in a long time.
The sacrifices required to achieve your dream are often blurred in the age where we only show what’s been altered to perfection. I’ve watched a small handful of peers go before me on their own individual roads, but didn’t quite understand the magnitude of leaping without a parachute until I jumped off my own cliff. L.A. was that ledge for me—I had a gig, but nothing too stable. I had savings—just enough to get me into my first apartment. And I had a drive to succeed by any means necessary.
When my steady writing gig started to become only an occasional one, I picked up side jobs just to pay the bills. The problem was that I still was barely making enough to break even. I relied heavily on credit cards, and there were many months spent giving myself pep talks that things could be worse as I battled with not sinking into a state of depression.
During a month of desperation where all of my income became obsolete, I dived back into corporate life, convincing myself that I could still do both jobs while having a stable income. But somehow with increasing bills and low hourly pay, I found myself digging a deeper hole into debt, and getting further away from my dream in attempt to climb out.
Last May I decided to take the leap back into writing full time again. The first couple of months were rocky, I found myself repeating similar mistakes as I did when I initially pursued this path, but after a couple of wake-up calls realized that many of mistakes stemmed from a lack of humility. I thought I had sacrificed enough when I drove nearly 3,000 miles across country to move here, but I knew there was more that I could forgo temporarily knowing that better was one knee-bend away. I made the decision to leave my beloved guest home, pick up jobs in catering, dog sitting and background acting in addition to my freelance work, and accept that I may lose the “friends” I had gained along the way once they realized I could no longer afford to turn up or hang out on the regular.
The dream is attainable, but it’s also a test of how bad you really want it. What are you willing to give up now in order to have better later? What habits and mindsets do you need to break before you can truly walk in your purpose? For me, it was a lot of shedding of things that I never recognized as being a privilege to have, and accepting that at the end of the day, I made a choice so there was no room for excuses or complaints.
This walk isn’t for the faint of heart, but in the end it will leave your heart full.