Letters To My Younger SelfHow To Survive A Life Changing MoveIngrid Haas

Dear Ingrid of Two and Half Years Ago,

Move to Los Angeles. I know… I know…from Canada!? Nobody does that! Well, with the one exception being Pamela Anderson. She did it and look at her now.

The move from Toronto to Los Angeles is exactly 2183 miles away and in kilometers it’s even further. It’s so far from home and the logistics are incredibly annoying: packing, getting a working visa, making enough therapy appointments to calm your anxiety before moving…but it’s worth it. Or rather, it will be.  It’ll be an all-consuming couple of months but get on that plane, march your tush across the customs boarder and cry out to the heavens:  “Love me, America!”

To be honest with you… it will take some time. But everything worthwhile suffers a struggle. Look at Jewel! The girl lived in her car.

New Friends/New Family

You thought you’d move here and everything would fall into it’s perfect place. In a lot of ways, it will. But you’re still going to cry everyday and that won’t change for ohhhh, about…14 months. You’re going to miss your family a lot. You’re going to miss Chinese food on Sundays with your family even more. You’re going to long for the buddies you’ve had since childhood. The ones who respect punctuality. People are always late in LA– get over it now. You’re going to make new friends and constantly compare them to your old friends. “Can she be my new best friend?” No one is going to replace the people who’ve been in your life for 20+ years, but what you’ll soon realize is… you have room for more.  One day you will make some really good friends in Los Angeles, friends who feel like family.  So even though it seems like every person you meet just wants to go to weird parties in the hills, one day you will find people who hug you even when you’re not crying. And it’ll feel really good.

The Sun Will Always Shine 

Rain/snow days are your jam in Canada!  But let it go. Staying in bed all day, guilt free because there’s a blistering snow storm outside, just won’t happen. You will feel guilty for wanting to curl up on your couch with a bag of Baked Lays and re-runs of Law & Order: SVU but get over it and more importantly: get into it. Accept the fact that the sun will shine incredibly brightly every single dog gone day, the art of making a winter parka look sexy will hold no weight here and no matter how many rain dances you do… it will never come when you want it to. So take a guilt-free couch day when you need it and pick up the crumbs.

Find Like-Minded People 

Go to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre  and sign up for improvisation comedy classes. Take a writing class. Write a one-woman show! Find a friend to direct it and put it up at the theatre. You have time, so much time, so use it before you lose it. You’ll find it much easier to make friends if you actually surround yourself with people who love and appreciate the same things you do. You dropped out of that print making class for a reason, let’s be real.

Set A Goal and Achieve It 

Sign up to RUN (or slow, slow jog) the Los Angeles Marathon. That’s 26.2 miles, girl! Crazy in theory, I get it. Seeing as you almost failed PhysEd three years in a row, but hear me out.  Setting a goal and achieving it is like picking up a perfect raspberry out of a box of mushy, rotten berries. It tastes like delicious, fresh, melt in your mouth sherbet.

There will be days in LA when it’ll feel like your career, your relationships, your future… everything is completely out of your hands. And that feeling tastes like the garbage disposal. So, I ask you this: is it going to be sherbet or the garbage disposal?

Sign up for the LA marathon. Train for it with APLA and you will meet up with a group of 45 to 60-year-olds (those are the people who are equally as healthy as you) every Saturday morning at 6am to train. You will tell them stories, they will tell you stories and for 6 months you will train and share your life with these people.

Ignore your entire family who is making long distance phone calls just to make fun of you, since you never worked out a day in your life and make this happen. The day that you cross that finish line will be one of your proudest moments. And lucky for you, you’ll have a group of friends waiting for you at the finish line.

You are the only thing holding yourself back.

Moving to another country (or another city, or even to a new apartment) is tough. Some people find change exciting. In your case, it’s really scary and that’s okay! And you know what? You can always move back to Canada and tell America to check itself. Nothing is permanent. And even though you’ll miss all your old restaurants and hang out spots, do you know what I think you might come to realize? You don’t love Chinese Food. You just love the memories attached to eating that Chinese food. And maybe one day, you’ll meet a group of people in Los Angeles who will start to feel like family and you can all go eat food together. Food that you actually enjoy.

That’s my hope for you, Ingrid.

With love,

Your Future Self.

P.S. Don’t be afraid to overdo it on the packing tape. You’ll always miss that one wedge heel that got lost in the shuffle.

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  1. The Los Angeles Frontrunners will eagerly be waiting for you with water, Gatorade, and lots of encouragement at mile 11, if you run the LA Marathon this year. Ask my buddy Kerry Q, if you’re training with T2

  2. This made me incredibly happy to read especially since I will be making a 7 hour move from sacramento to LA. it will be the farthest I have ever lived from home and the most challenging since I want to work in film. But you gotta do what takes to make your dreams happen and hearing others who have done, just makes you feel that much more stronger and that much more encouraged !! <3

  3. After I complete my time here at cosmetology school, I’m leaving for L.A. to further my education and to pursue my dream of becoming a special effects make up artist. I was so scared to make such a big move and the possibility of failure, but after reading this I’m totally inspired again. thanks for posting :)

  4. Ingrid, this is a cool story but where’s the meat? I moved from Australia to Texas and it took only 6 months for me to be financially ruined and running back to AU, tail firmly between legs. How do you survive? How do you pay rent and bills? How do you cope with having to pay for health insurance now? How do you find the will to struggle on when you can only afford basic needs and nothing else? Do you have any advice on actually living in America which is a much harsher place to survive than Canada or Australia? I have friends and family in both countries, having grown up in Texas, so I already was able to deal with that side of things. It’s the economy, health care and employment issues that just crushed me. What are your tips for overcoming this?

  5. Thanks for all your personal feedback on this Letter. I love hearing how you guys relate to it. Xox Ingrid

  6. What a lovely letter! I’ve often wished I had traveled more when I was single, just for the sake of having done it on my own. Now, though, I have a permanent travel and moving buddy. Our biggest move so far has only been about an hour away from where my home has been my entire life. He’s a different story – from Louisiana to military straight out of high school (and 9/11 at the end of basic training,) then to Texas to live with his brother and to marry me. After several moves within the metroplex, and our current stay at an on-campus mission that will end when he finishes school, I have no idea where we’ll go. I find myself thinking about things like consolidating what we have so that the next move is as easy as possible. It’s exciting to know that the choice is ours, though, and we could end up anywhere!

  7. into this

  8. I moved from my hometown of Arizona to New Jersey! This article is awesome! I know the feeling though i have moved so much since my childhood

  9. I really needed this right now – this year I’m finishing up my masters (which I moved from my hometown in Ohio to Virginia, 12 hrs away to get)) and THEN moving to LA to pursue the big Hollywood dream: for me writing, comedy, acting, maybe even directing! But my life has already been a whirlwind of change and I’m going to make an even bigger one this time next year, and that’s *really* scary!! But reading this and seeing the comments was so encouraging, makes me feel like I’m not alone :) Thank you!

  10. I so needed to read this because I am planning a large move myself from everything I know and it is terrifying. Plus I have a kid too! You are right though you can adapt, accept you will miss things, but make the leap. :)

  11. I moved to San Diego from NJ in August of 2011. I relate to this article very much. I am feeling very homesick right now. I keep telling myself it hasn’t even been 6 months since I moved and things will get better. Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement that it will get better in time!

  12. I’m moving from Calgary to LA in the next few months and finding a work visa has proven to be none to easy! I really appreciated this post, it definitely made me realize that the move WILL be worth it eventually! Thanks!

  13. This is fantastic!! I am also from Ontario, actually going to school in Toronto and am a filmmaker and I will be making to move to LA within a couple years when i am done school. This post just reaffirmed my feelings about going and am looking forward to it even more now!! Maybe i’ll see you there some day! :)

  14. I just moved to Oregon from Los Angeles. My first move out on my own. I moved away from my family, friends, and my boyfriend. The first three months were great! Then I went home and I got a taste of what I left behind. I got back two weeks ago and I’m having the hardest time. This article was perfectly timed for me. I can’t thank you enough for sharing this and showing me that it isn’t going to fall into place, and that I have to take initiative and put myself out in the world or I will never make friends and continue to feel alone and afraid. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Hearing friends and family say it is not as affective as hearing it from someone who you have no connection with.

  15. I’m moving to New Zealand from Scotland next year, and find this incredibly amusing and comforting!

  16. Cheers to living your Dreams!!!!

  17. I loved this. I moved to Portland from New Mexico about 4 years ago, and it was so hard, but so worth it! This is great!