I watched the 2016 Oscars ceremony from a hotel room in the mid-west, halfway through the cross-country trip from Pennsylvania to California. I was on an adventure – taking a leap of faith and pursuing a career as a TV writer.
As my father/frequent driver/guru slept during the awards I sat on the edge of my temporary bed, my eyes glued to the screen and my fingers dancing on social media apps. I cheered, booed, and celebrated wins (quietly as not to wake my elder) and fell asleep as the credits rolled. My heart was full of joy, my spirit filled with purpose, and my mind brimmed with inspiration.
The joy, purpose, and inspiration weren’t enough to turn the dream into a goal. Ten weeks into my CA adventure I made the life-changing decision to return to the east coast.
I failed – that’s the message that I’ve told myself during the eight months since my return to PA. Though friends and family use words like brave and inspirational, I thank them but disagree. The memories of my time in Hollywood fill my soul with pride yet also cut my self-confidence in half.
I miss the artistic energy, the scenic views of the Pacific coast, and even the healthier lifestyle. I miss taking walks with my sister and her family, playing board games with my nephews, and attending baseball practices/games.
I miss attending events like the LA Times Festival of Books and WonderCon – listening to panels varying in topic from Young Adult Fantasy and TV marketing.
I miss the beautiful weather, navigating LA traffic with ease, walking around Hollywood & Highland, waiting along the sidelines during red carpet premieres – with pen and paper to remember it all.
What don’t I miss? The fear of
failure success, applying to jobs that would require dedication and commitment for the long-term goal, and the dreaded self trio: doubt, confidence, and esteem.
I had to ask myself if I wanted the ultimate goal of TV writer badly enough to work my way there over the course of five to ten years. Could I settle down in Los Angeles – away from most of my family and friends? What if I achieved career satisfaction or even financial success? Would all my faults and flaws be food for fodder? Could I handle achieving my personal and professional goals only to have them challenged, threatened, or tainted? Wouldn’t that destroy me more – to reach that level of fulfillment and then lose it?
So I didn’t try, didn’t give it my all. I wasn’t brave, inspirational, or determined. I focused on spending time with the CA family and taking in the sights of Hollywood as though an outsider though I yearned to be an insider.
My sister and brother-in-law offered wise counsel, tons of laughs, and pragmatic suggestions – gently prodding me to determine my ultimate goals. “I don’t know,” I’d reply. “Why don’t I know?”
I reached a point where all the inactions and non job searching forced me to make a decision regarding the next step in my life’s journey. Do I stay and put all my energy into achieving my entertainment dreams or go back east and pursue publication as a YA (Young Adult) author? I chose the latter, convincing myself that I wasn’t running away so much as being realistic.
My father accompanied me on the drive back east, rain greeting us each of the four days of travel. I stared out of the window, saddened and disappointed in myself but longing for home so that I could pretend I was brave and independent when the actual lesson from the CA adventure revealed the stark reality: I’d failed. I’d given up. I allowed fear to color my decisions.
Three weeks after settling back at “home”, my older sister (one in PA) suddenly passed away. As I dealt with the stages of loss, I also found some comfort in knowing that I was there in her final twelve hours. I told myself that I must have sensed a need to be in Pennsylvania and that that’s what prompted the end to the CA adventure.
In the many months since my “failed” adventure, sister’s death and worrying about the election outcome, I spun into a downward spiral – sucked in by irrational fear and an overwhelming sense of dread. Art had consistently been my source of healing in years past, yet now I found little fulfillment from writing. Blogging about entertainment seemed meaningless and tweeting to my favorite actors or TV writers/execs felt like a waste of time and energy. “What did it matter?” I asked. “I’d decided, after all, that a career in TV wasn’t for me so why give it so much attention now?”
I became immersed in fear and self-depreciation until the morning of November 9th. I realized that I could not sit idly by and let fear and dread consume me. I must stand up and keep moving forward. Life is a journey- my Hollywood adventure but one path along the way. I am currently writing a children’s book and reminding fear that I am strong.
What about the TV writer dream? I feel immense regret over my inactions especially since talking about film, TV, and/or theatre still brightens my eyes and fills my soul with joy. I remain unsure of my personal and professional goals but I’m motivated to search them out.
This February 26th, I’ll celebrate the best of 2016 film from a comfy couch and in the company of friends and family. Will I blog about it afterwards? Perhaps…but I’ll enjoy the show nonetheless.
**No endorsement from any of the above organizations/events implied.**