Making Personal Growth

I was speaking with my cousin today – a totally awesome dreamer and creative who is my same age and yet has accomplished so much more than I probably ever will – and we were discussing the pros and cons of work that is creatively satisfying (if not quite what you want to be doing) vs. work that is mundane yet stable. The conversation brought up a lot of insight as to what is most important: your immediate happiness, or your ability to satisfy your personal creative and financial needs while working towards eventually meeting your career goals.

The answer: It’s a toss-up, really. Both hold merits, and it likely just comes down to individual needs and specific job opportunities. But what the conversation really reinforced for me was the idea of personal growth.

No matter what you’re doing, make sure you’re doing it for you.

The obvious consensus here is that you should always be taking into account what you want to be doing with your life. Meaning, not just creative and career goals, but things you want to achieve for yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. Hence, your personal growth. Any job you have or decide to take should lend itself in someway to helping you reach these goals, whether that’s through immediate exposure (i.e. being an assistant to someone who is doing what you want to do and who will mentor you), or through stable flexibility (i.e. a job that isn’t really what you want to do, but that allows you the flexibility to work on what you want to do in your downtime OR gives you enough of your week that you can focus on your passion as a sort-of side job).

And herein lies the dilemma and heartache, because which do you choose? There are risks to both; the first, which might be more creatively satisfying in the moment, may have you spending much of your creative energies focusing on that which does not directly help your own goals. The second will allow you to spend your creative energies how you wish, but without the guarantee that you will find a direct way toward meeting your career goals. Both provide risks and benefits. Perhaps the decision will not be up to you; perhaps you will only come across the opportunity for one or the other.

You will have the opportunity to choose one thing: to pursue your own work, always. Meaning that while there are plenty of stable jobs out there that you could pursue, you have the ability to choose one that lends you the flexibility or opportunities you need to create the career you want. This might not be easy to find, but it’s worth the work and search.

Just some thoughts. Good luck on whatever your career endeavor may be.

-tlc

An Open Letter To My Family About My Current Boyfriend, Netflix

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’ve met someone.

Yes, I know, he’s a rather – unconventional – boyfriend, but he’s nice and he’s always there for me. In fact, I like him so much I spend almost every evening with him! In a totally family-friendly way that I’m not embarrassed to tell you about. Don’t raise your eyebrows at me, mom. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Continue reading “An Open Letter To My Family About My Current Boyfriend, Netflix”

Self Value

So my birthday was this week. A lot of people say having a birthday around the holidays is bad because people are busy and people try to short you presents, but I’ve always loved my birthday. I think having a December birthday is the best time to have a birthday. First of all, everyone is already in a festive mood and the season is bright and cheery. Secondly, I’ve never had a problem with people making time for my birthday, but maybe that’s more because I’m pretty low-key when it comes to these kinds of things.

This year though, there was one thing that my birthday gave me that I hadn’t realized I needed: a reminder of my self-worth.

See, it always tends to happen that as the days grow closer to my birthday, things get busier and everyone gets stressed. In college my birthday always fell on the weekend before finals week, and now in big-kid world, my birthday tends to fall on the week before the last week of work before the holiday break (aka the busy week when everyone realizes they need to hustle because they also have to do Christmas shopping and pack for winter travels).

This particular year, I had a very stressful encounter with someone that I have to see on pretty much a daily basis, just a few days before my birthday. Though I was eventually able to mediate the situation and clear things up, the volatile–and rather intensely negative–reaction I received from the person before I was able to set things straight really had me in a foul mood. I just couldn’t understand how a person could have such a lack of respect for another human being that they had no problem spouting off vile things as if another person had no value. Without realizing it, I had let it affect the way I view myself, as if anyone’s negative opinion of me somehow made me less valuable as a person. Even after the situation was resolved, I was still harboring these feelings.

And then my birthday came, and with it, calls and well-wishes from my very-much-loved friends and family. And though the gesture was small on each of their parts, knowing that these people had made an effort to remember my birthday and then took time out of each of their days to call me reminded me just how valuable I am to each of them. But more importantly, I realized that I had been holding on to these negative feelings and needed to let go of them. Because it’s stupid to hold someone else’s opinion of yourself higher than your own opinion. Especially when that person cannot respect someone enough to show them decency through their own emotional turmoil.

So value yourself. Because you mean a lot to someone, and you have a lot of value to bring to this world, even if you can’t see it at this moment, and even if someone else can’t see it, either. And also remember, even when you’re angry with someone, that they are human too, and give them the respect and value that is demanded of that fact. Don’t curse someone out just because you need someone to spew your emotions on to.

-tlc

Terrible Days

I just want to shout-out for a second to all of those times when we are just grumpy for absolutely zero reason. Take this past Sunday for me. I was coming off of a four-and-a-half day weekend, I’d gone to freaking Disneyland (it was magical) and I watched Mockingjay Pt. 2 that morning and was going to a Christmas parade that evening. It was an awesome Thanksgiving holiday. And for some unexplainable reason, I was in a terrible mood. It was so bad, I think I passed it on to my roommates and we were all grumpy.

I don’t know why I wanted to talk about this, but I’m just rolling with it at this point. I’ve kind of thrown all conformity to a theme out the window and am just writing about whatever comes to mind. But I think it’s good to acknowledge that we all have bad days. I write a lot on here about treating others with kindness and loving yourself and putting good will and open minds out there into the world, but some days you just really need to kick something, hard.

I don’t know why we sometimes wake up on the wrong side of the bed. It just happens. Usually during the most inexplicable time when you know full well you have absolutely no reason or right to be mad about anything. I hope you don’t take it out on those around you, but I know sometimes it happens, whether you want it to or not. And hopefully you apologize right away when that happens, but I know sometimes that doesn’t happen, either.  And then you wake up the next day and it’s as though the sun decided to shine a few degrees brighter, and you somehow feel so much better, for no reason as well.

This will be a short post. We have feelings, and sometimes they are overwhelming and sometimes they suck. And sometimes they change unexpectedly or inexplicably. It happens. I guess this is always a nice reminder that the world will keep turning, and that time does change things.

-tlc

Loss

I’m taking a bit of personal discretion in writing this post. Today I write about the recent loss of a friend. A friend that I unfortunately did not have the chance of knowing better. I hope that, for anyone who knew that friend and might be reading this, I do justice by her and do not dredge up hard feelings.

I didn’t post last week because I really didn’t have anything to write about. You probably think, “Right, it wasn’t just because you forgot again?” And I totally get that. It would seem logical given how spotty my posts have been since my job ended in September. But actually, I thought about posting several times throughout the week, and just really couldn’t think of a topic that I haven’t beat into a dead horse. (No actual horses have been harmed in the writing of this blog.) But since last Friday, two big things have happened: I went on a retreat at my church (this might not seem big, but it really was a great refresher that breathed new perspective into several aspects of my life) and probably a little more significantly, a friend of mine from college passed away.

This blog has morphed into something weirdly more personal that I expected or had intended. In fact, I started this blog nearly four years ago simply as a way to build a presence in the age of social media, and as a place to put writing samples and encourage myself to practice routine writing. I thought I would write funny, quirky posts that were relatable to other college students, and then I thought I’d start writing about that transitional period between college and real life, and somewhere in the midst of all of that this blog has turned into a public diary of sorts, sharing my experiences uncovering the world one person at a time, one city (right now LA) at a time.

I write a lot about dating, and jobs, and unemployment, and friendships, and family, and moving, and pretty much everything that rolls around in the mind of a 20-something. I’ve even spoken a little bit about anxiety and depression and mental illness because I have personally dealt with those things in my life. But I’ve never talked about death. Not really. This is because I’m in my early twenties. Death is not supposed to be on my mind.

My friend Kelly had cancer. She was only two years older than me. I knew her battle had taken a turn for the worse, but I had never expected that I would wake up one morning, check Facebook and see a post from her family announcing her departure from this world. She was young. She was strong. She had a future ahead of her.

Let me interject here and say that Kelly was my friend, but we had not spoken outside of Facebook updates since she had graduated from KU. I hope that her closest friends and family will forgive me for not being able to encapsulate the absolute beauty of a human being that she was. I cannot even begin to fathom the grief that they are experiencing.

If you’ve read my other posts, you’re probably aware that my mother also battled cancer several years ago. Kelly and my mom had the same type of cancer. My mother beat her cancer. It’s not fair that Kelly did not have the same outcome. This has reminded me of a few things that I had begun to forget in the nearly fourteen years since my mother’s battle with cancer began.

Since my childhood, cancer has been to me like an estranged uncle that no one in the family really feels comfortable discussing, but who shows up without invitation during the holidays and ruins Christmas with a bottle of Cognac. Cancer’s presence in my life has been an eye-opener, teaching me the incredibly raw and terrifying realities about love and loss. I carried cancer’s memory with me throughout childhood and into high school. I wrote my college entrance essay about my experience with cancer. Cancer got me a scholarship that paid for half of my tuition.

In college cancer’s memory softened. I could joke about it (I deal with everything through humor). I found myself telling people about how I’d come to terms with the likelihood of my own eventual battle with cancer. The idea of it didn’t seem to scare me. I had finally entered that phase of invincibility which had evaded me all throughout my teenage years.

And then Kelly found her cancer. And then she blogged about it. She was so optimistic, and I knew she would beat it. She was so young, there was just no way she wouldn’t beat it. If my mom could do it on the absolutely primitive chemotherapy she had, Kelly would definitely be fine. It would just be another mountain that she could say she had conquered, along with NYU Law School, along with passing the bar exam, along with all the incredible social activism she had done at KU, along with all the lives she had touched along the way, including my own.

And then she didn’t. And then it was all over, and all that remains now is how everyone will remember her and the shock of knowing that someone so young, so beautiful inside and out, who had such a long and bright future ahead of her is no longer here to pursue that future. It is utterly and completely devastating. There are no words that can bandage the incredible loss that those who knew her share.

And all I can think is that the Kelly I knew would want us all to take this as a spark, a motivation to do right by ourselves and this world now. To stop putting off the things that are truly important, like helping others. I remember her telling me when she was applying to NYU Law that she wanted to be a lawyer so that she could help non-profits. She was the president of KU’s Amnesty International while she was in undergrad. She was always thinking about others. Nothing she did was selfish. She would want us all to realize that life is fleeting, even now as young twenty-somethings, our days are all numbered. Spend them doing right be others. Love yourself and let that love spread outward.

Rest In Peace, Kelly. You will be missed.

-tlc

Oops, I Did It Again

Can you guess where this is going? No, it has nothing to do with relationships, and no, I didn’t meet Britney Spears over the weekend.

I missed a post, AGAIN.

I’m sorry guys, but when it rains, it pours. (Unless you live in LA, and then when it rains, it’s just a few sprinkles.)

Actually, I have a very good excuse for last week’s oversight. I was on the road to South Dakota, for a last-minute, unplanned visit to see my grandmother, who has been sick and in the hospital. I even extended my trip home (I was supposed to be back in LA two days ago, but then life happened) because I wasn’t sure what the outcome of this week was going to be. But for now, it looks as though nothing is going to change, including the number of living grandparents I have.

That week sitting in the hospital got me thinking, though. How many of us actually think about death, or near-death illness at our age? It’s not an easy topic to think about. It’s heavy. Sure, we see it on TV and in the news all the time. We’re desensitized to fictional death and death on screen. I’ll admit, I’m still not sure I’ve fully aged out of the phase of feeling invincible.

But dwelling on our own, eventual, (hopefully) far-off deaths doesn’t really do us any good. Sure, there’s that well-used concept of living like you’re dying, but no one in their right mind would fully dive into that idea, when the hope is that you have several decades of future life to plan for.

**I would like to take a moment here to side-note that at this point in typing this post I had a sneezing fit, which has never happened to me before, convincing me that I am indeed allergic to death**

Instead, I spent most of the week thinking about my mother and how she dropped everything and ran to my grandmother’s bedside when my grandmother needed her most, without a second thought or care to her job, prior commitments, or responsibilities (she’s got a classroom full of animals and she instructed my dad on how to feed/take care of them after she was already on the road). This isn’t to condemn anyone who, for whatever reason, can’t do that. Even my mother acknowledged how lucky she is to have a job that will not only give her the paid time off, but also guarantee her job for up to two years, if something would keep her from going back for that long (not that they would pay her for those two years, but that’s besides the point).

But while my mom sat in there, with a real job and responsibilities on the side burner, I was the one feeling strangely anxious. I say strangely because while I’ve been between production jobs, I’ve been freelancing remotely to pay the bills. This means that as long as I have wifi, it really doesn’t matter where I am–I could do my job in Siberia if I needed/wanted to. Yet, instead of giving my full, undivided concern and attention to my loved ones sitting with me, I was anxious about the strange pull I felt towards LA, as though I needed to hurry back. Which is ridiculous. Why was I worrying about rushing back to nothing, when my grandmother was sick and needed my love right in front of me?

I think the real question we should be asking ourselves about death lies in that scenario right there. Where are our priorities, and why? If your loved one was on their deathbed tomorrow, would you drop everything–your job, your apartment, your pets–to go be with them? If it was going to take days, weeks, months, maybe years, would you stand by their side and help them through illness and/or death? Or is there something holding you back? Do you care more about your job and career than you do your loved ones? Concerned more for the health of your dog than your mom, dad, sibling, etc?

Why is that? Why do we care more about materialistic things than our families, relationships, and friendships? In Hollywood, it’s very easy to see the successful people at the top who have pushed away everyone they’ve ever loved, or who has ever loved them. And it’s even easier to see how miserable they are. And the saddest part? I see the super wealthy people in their later years and think, why? What’s the point of having all of that money when you certainly only have maybe a decade–two at most–left to live?

So, no matter where you go or what you do in life, I hope you find success. But I hope you also realize, as I did this week, that’s it’s more important to find people. So I also hope that no matter how much success you find, that you’re able to drop everything to be with your loved ones, should they ever need you.

Because money can’t buy you happiness when you’re dead.

-tlc

Taking A Moment

So last Thursday was my last day (for now!) as a PA at Instant Mom. In the midst of coming to terms with that and looking ahead at an open schedule, I totally forgot to post a blog. It was the first Friday that I didn’t publish a post all year. Oops. There goes my perfect record. I imagine this is how kids who have perfect attendance feel when they come down with the flu.

Okay, on to actually making a point.

I use this blog a lot to talk about change and dealing with that, especially at a volatile stage in life, like post-graduation. The funny thing is, every time I think I’ve come to terms with change, I am actually faced with that change and learn something new about the difficulties in letting go, and the dangers of nostalgia. Yes, I said dangers of nostalgia, and if you don’t believe me that nostalgia can be dangerous, just look at the slate of blockbuster films lined up for the next five years. Nostalgia, folks: killing creativity one multi-million dollar franchise at a time. (Mr. Columbus, if you’re reading this, I would happily renounce everything I’ve ever said to be a part of the Goonies sequel.)

Overall, I think it’s good to be happy, even when you know change is coming, and coming shortly–I mean, that’s the point, right? Why even bother if you’re not happy with the way things are (change them!). But my newest worry is that such a nomadic lifestyle career will make longer term commitments more difficult. I don’t know why, I just find things to worry about. It’s who I am. But it’s a valid point, if you’re used to constant change, how do you learn to trust something more stagnant or stationary? How do you continue to find excitement, year after year? Will this affect my relationships and friendships?

It’s a weird idea to cross my mind, because my career trajectory at this point (even if I never work another PA gig) is not going to find me in the bowels of an office building, typing away at a computer screen all day (the hope is to do that from home, eventually!). But it’s a valid question I have to ask myself, because how do I go from here, in LA, to something smaller, quieter, and more quaint, should the need ever arise?

Well, the truth is, I don’t know. But honestly? I know I’ll be fine because this past year has taught me to have confidence in my ability to find happiness. And I know that whatever comes next, no matter how far from what I’ve imagined, I’ll make the most of it, and it will be great, because this last year has taken me far, far out of the realm of who I thought I was, and really made me exam my fears, my goals, and what I really want out of life. Do I have answers for any of those things? Good lord, no. Do I have a sense of who I am in relation to those things? I’d like to think so. I guess we’ll both just have to wait and see.

Until next week (I won’t forget again I promise).

-tlc

The Journey Ahead

I’ve been sitting at my desk all day trying to figure out what it was that I needed to do. I had this horrible feeling that I’ve been forgetting something all week, and it finally dawned on me that in the midst of trying to stay on top of everything else, I’d totally spaced on writing this. Thank God I remembered at the last possible second.

It’s been a totally crazy two weeks. Along with wrapping up our last episode of season 3 production, we had our wrap party, I wrote three articles in one week for one of my other jobs, and I’m prepping for a labor day weekend road trip up to San Francisco with the roommates. Not to mention maintaining my other jobs (I have four total–one I do in person and three I work on remotely)  and trying to plan a short trip home for a mini vacation to see my wonderful nephews. Needless to say I’ve been busy.

But despite all of that, I had to stop and take a moment to really take in all that’s happened in the last year. Well, really, all that’s happened in the last 7 months. I’ve learned so much, transformed so much, and met so many great people that I am truly astounded. I look around at all that I’ve gotten to experience, and it’s hard now to think back to a year ago when I wasn’t sure if any of this was possible. It’s even harder to think back to a year ago and really believe that I had the courage to move in with complete strangers, in a city that I didn’t know, with no job prospects, working full time as an unpaid intern, half a nation away from my family. To this day, I’m not sure if it was pure insanity. But you know, through all of the struggles (believe me, this year has been tough) I’d do it all over again, because where it’s taken me, and what it’s shown me I’m capable of is beyond invaluable.

I don’t talk about this often, but when I was in middle school, I suffered from severe anxiety. At one point, it was so bad, I couldn’t make it through a day without bursting into tears and calling my dad, just to make sure he was still there. That was one of the toughest times of my life, and it took a long, long time for me to fully recover from that. It was so bad, I even worried that I wouldn’t be able to move away for college. In fact, a lot of people teasingly joked that I would never move that far away from home. (Granted, they had no idea what I’d been through, and how real of a fear that was for me). They simply saw how close I was to my parents, and how much family means to me, and assumed that I would never want to be more  than a few minutes’ drive from seeing my loved ones. And I’ll admit, being away from my family is absolutely the hardest part about living alone in this giant city.

But I am so grateful for my time out here. I’ve grown stronger, and I feel that my bond with my family is deeper because of my time away. I never want to take anything for granted, least of all them. I was blessed with an amazing job experience working with amazing coworkers on a great show–literally a dream come true. I could never have imagined everything I’ve been blessed with in the last year. I don’t know what I did to deserve everything that’s happened, but I am so happy that it has happened.

I don’t know what’s next. Now that the show that I’ve currently been working on is wrapping, I don’t know what the future holds. Perhaps this was the only show I was destined to work on. Perhaps I’ll have a job next week. I don’t know. But one thing I’m sure of, I can handle whatever comes next. And I’m excited to see what’s in store for my life, because I know, no matter what, I’ll make the most of it. And it’ll be fantastic.

-tlc

Be Ambitious

So as most of you know by now (I’m not sure how any of you wouldn’t know–I’ve only posted about it a gazillion times already on Facebook) I just cut my hair. DRASTICALLY cut my hair. To be specific, I went from probably close to three feet of hair to a pixie cut without rocking a mid-length ‘do in between. And honestly? I FEEL GREAT.

Without contest, this has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in relation to my appearance and I don’t regret it one bit. But then again, I had been thinking about making the change for well over a year, and had begun mentally preparing myself a long time ago. Still, before cutting my hair, there was no way I could fully prepare myself for the person I would be looking at in the mirror afterwards. I had gotten so used to my reflection with long hair, I hadn’t realized that the person I was looking at wasn’t really me.

Now when I see myself in the mirror, it’s not that I’m like, “Ahh, here I am, finally.” This ain’t no Mulan, Who-is-that-girl-I-see moment (That’s going to be stuck in my head forever, thanks self), though I do love this hairstyle and the fact that I can style it with my simpleton hair skills gives me great confidence. No, in fact, this isn’t really about having long hair vs. short hair at all. This is really about change.

So many of us (women in particular, though men do it, too!) get attached to the way we look. We get attached to our clothes, the length of our hair, the certain brands of beauty and cleaning products we use, etc. We get so attached that we grow uncomfortable with change. Our hair, or sense of style, or piece of clothing, or whatever starts to become sentimental; it turns into something that we invest emotion in. We do this because we grow comfortable with the way we look and the certain way things are, and then we find it difficult to change.

We find it difficult to change our looks or our hair once we’ve grown attached to it because we’re uncertain. We don’t know if we will still look good with the change–we aren’t sure that we’ll be comfortable with it. And this sentiment expands beyond our looks. We find routine and become afraid of change. That’s why graduating college and entering the real world is such a point of anxiety; that’s why so many of us feel the pressure to find a stable job and start our lifetime-long careers at 22 years old. That’s why many of us get married, settle down, and start a family before we even hit 30 (which, in coastal culture, aka NYC and LA, is outrageously young).

We’re scared to take a risk, take a chance, make a change (thank you Kelly Clarkson, that’s still one of my favorite songs) because we can’t see the future in that decision. We ignore our “wilder” fantasies because we view them as that: wild, uncontrollable. We crave routine and comfort, but do we really find satisfaction in that?

I loved my long hair; it was a point of pride to have such long locks, and (despite what it might of looked like in pictures) my hair was really healthy. I loved pulling it up into long sideways french braids like I was Katniss Everdeen about to go kick some ass. But when I really thought about it, I was just tired. I was tired of my hair, bored with it, and ready for a change. Braiding it was the only way I knew how to style it. It was heavy, a hassle, and always got in the way. And almost immediately after I cut it, I realized that it really wasn’t me. I’m the type of person who loves to take leaps, who loves to bound into new adventures, even though they might be terrifying. And short hair was a new adventure for me. It’s not that I am inherently a pixie-cut type of person (though I do think I look better in short hair than I did in long hair) but it’s the significant change that really expresses who I am. I like to dance to the beat of my own drum, and I think my hair represents that now.

So I guess my long-winded point is this: be ambitious. Let yourself dream, and go for those dreams. No one ever got any where good without taking some risks. And even if you fail, you’re not really failing, because you’re learning something about yourself and the world around you along the way. You know what I said to myself right before I cut my hair?

It’s just hair. It’ll grow back.

So take a chance on yourself. Get out of your routine and comfort zone and figure out how to do what you love–figure out what it is that you love doing!! You will have so much more confidence in yourself, and ultimately find yourself in a happier place if you do.

-tlc

Everything Is Going To Be Okay

Earlier this morning a friend sent me this graphic about several of my favorite success stories and where they were at 23 years old. Even though others’ failure shouldn’t be a comfort to me, knowing how far all of these people went to change the world (in their own respective ways) is reassuring. So many of us leave college feeling as though we have to have a life plan; as if our time to discover ourselves and build our career is extremely limited, and if we haven’t found ourselves and laid the foundation for our futures by the time we’re 24 or 25 we’ll never find success.

I’m learning very quickly that success isn’t necessarily a number on a paycheck. Success is living a life and lifestyle that makes your happy. Success is putting things out into the world that you are proud of. This doesn’t have to be physical objects, but can be actions, lessons, or the way you treat other people. All of these things have the ability to impact those around you.

So, to keep this post brief, here’s something I’ve learned just from contemplating this graphic:

1) Success means taking risks. If you don’t put yourself out there, if you don’t take a chance on your dreams, you’ll never achieve your goals. As the saying goes, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. I know it’s scary to go out on a limb away from any sort of familial or financial safety net, but if you don’t do it, you’ll never get where you want to go.

2) Failure isn’t the end. If this graphic isn’t the perfect example of that, just go read up on all the statistics about Donald Trump filing for bankruptcy. (Not that Trump is a great example of success by any means, but he’s still stinking rich.) The world keeps turning, even after it feels like it should stop. In your darkest moments, this may be a terrible reality, but time does indeed heal all wounds, and someday you will be grateful that life allows us to reinvent ourselves over, and over, and over again.

3) Change is necessary. All of these people made changes in their lives to get where they are today. You can’t expect to have different results if you try the same things over and over again. Sometimes this is really hard to hear, and even harder to put into practice. Especially as a writer, I understand the pain of spending so much time on one project, only to realize afterwards that I’m not getting the results I want with it. Starting over is difficult. Throwing out things you’re attached to so that you can make room for a fresh perspective is challenging. But nobody ever said life was easy.

So there you have it. Everything I gleaned from a simple internet graphic. Too bad most internet graphics spread stereotypes, not positive reinforcement. But that’s another post entirely.

Yours truly,

tlc