I have said it a million times, and I will say it again. Making it in Los Angeles is hard.
There’s the gas prices. The traffic. The rent. And the people…oh, the people.
I joke that living in L.A. is like being in high school all over again. There are the super popular kids who are clad in their designer shades, designer puppies in tow. Then, there’s the artsy clique that takes weird to a whole new level. I thought I was weird, and then I met people here.
Nothing I see in the City of Angels shocks me at this point. If it does, I know that in 10 minutes, something else will out-weird whatever just happened. (Like the time I instantly forgot about the man shouting expletives to the air in front of Starbucks once I saw another man’s derrière on full display as he walked down Ventura Blvd.)
If you let it, this huge, crowded, expensive city will eat you up, spit you out, and then eat you again. If you let it.
Los Angeles can also make you stronger and, dare I say it, a better person. In my second year here in my dream city, I have faced a new set of obstacles at every turn. There were some moments when things were so bad that I simply had to laugh to keep from crying. A friend and I became masters at the “laughing at your pain” mantra.
There was the job-layoff. The new roommates with a dog they never walked (i.e. a regularly pee- and poop-stained carpet. You’re welcome for that imagery.) There was the vandalized car widow. Getting rear-ended by an uninsured driver at a red light, nearly totaling my car. The $500+ dollars spent repairing my Jeep to pass the California smog test, only to spend nearly the same amount to get my California tags and plates. Then, there was the emotional hurdle of getting over the three-year friendlationship with the person I thought might be “the one.” Oh, and just this week, there was the moment when I nearly flooded my friend’s kitchen and ants infested my bedroom.
Like I said, rough year. But it wasn’t only rough.
There was the time I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon. (I literally could not feel my legs but I’ve also never felt more proud in my entire life.) There was the benefit concert that some friends and I teamed up to create. I stepped out of my comfort zone and played MC/hostess for the night, and we raised more than $1,000 for Syrian refugees. I began my freelance journalism career (more like stumbled into it), forcing me to become more confident in my writing, editing, and negotiating skills. There were awkward dates that later made for lots of witty banter with friends; reconnecting with an old crush and realizing I can do so much better.
As one of my favorite authors, Shauna Niequist, says in her book Cold Tangerines, “Nothing good comes easily. You have to lose things you thought you loved, give up things you thought you needed. You have to get over yourself, beyond your past, out from under the weight of your future. The good stuff never comes when things are easy.”
2017 has shown me numerous times that I am stronger, tougher, and more resilient than I realized. I often might have said that I was quitting, packing up, and moving back to Oklahoma. I never once meant it.
Since living in Los Angeles, I’ve realized that I am no quitter.
I have sold myself short — in friendship, in love, in career — but not anymore. If I want the best, if I want more, then I have to ask for it. No one will believe in me unless I do. L.A. has taught me that people will walk right over me until I say, “Enough.” Living here has taught me that a “no” isn’t a bad thing; it just leads you to the right “yes.” Rejection does not equate to failure, but it can redirect you to where you need to go.
As we enter 2018, I want to say this: Sometimes you have to be your own best friend, your own cheerleader, your own advocate, your own defense, your own believer. If you’re going to bet on anyone, bet on yourself. I’ll keep dusting myself off, holding fast to hope while encouraging yours. Yet and still, I am hopeful, yet and still.