Confessions of a Hollywood Dropout (pt.2)


Confessions of a Hollywood Dropout (pt.2)

Last spring, I was burned out.  I was a frustrated actor who felt like a zombie, going from uninspiring day job to hours in traffic to uninspiring auditions.  LA had me convinced that it was the only place that mattered & if I couldn’t make it here, well, I’d failed.  I was majorly unhappy and just going through the motions, bottling it up so I wouldn’t have to admit my unhappiness and therefore make a change.

Then, one day, I cracked.  And that crack let so much light in, it was stunning.

Except I didn’t notice it at first.  I was tightly blindfolded by feelings of failure and fear.  But light has a way of seeping through the dark and finding you, even when you’ve got a hangover headache & have buried yourself beneath the sheets.  Especially then.

So, I declared myself done with acting.  DONE.  Its success was too out of my control, too intangible, too taunting.  I came to a standstill.  And I was angry.  I was mad at the industry for being so fickle, I was mad at my teachers for telling me I was talented, I was mad at myself for even trying; I’d become the Hollywood stereotype, one of the locusts swarming off the bus seeking fame & fortune, and leaving without a penny or a credit to their name.

I couldn’t even stand to listen to people talk about movies.

At the height of this pessimism-party I was throwing myself, some friends convinced me to join an artists collective that was creating an original play.  I was skeptical and creatively barren, but attending the meetings started to shift something inside me.  These people were seriously inspiring.  After a few months of contributing nothing and feeling useless, suddenly all my frustrations and fears and passions poured out of me, uncontrollable and raw, in the form of a monologue.  It was sad and funny, and when I tentatively read it for the group, they insisted it be the opening piece of the show.  It had been born not in spite of my crisis, but because of it, and reminded me I am still an artist, no matter what. I contributed two original pieces to the show, which ended up being one of the most amazing projects I’ve ever worked on, with one of the most inspiring groups of people I know.

And I was back!  …Somewhat.

I still was crisis-ing, still boycotting the film industry, still single, and I still had no clue what I wanted to do with my life, but at least I was creating again.  The light crept in and I started to feel alive.

During all of this, I was planning & saving for a trip to Australia.  For years I’d talked about going and this seemed like the perfect time; I wanted to run away, where better than the other side of the world?  Everything fell into place – I got a temporary job working an arts festival there, got my visa, ticket, and couldn’t wait to see my old college roommate who’d gone to London with me years ago & had been living in Australia since.

I needed this change, I was ready to go & not look back – and then The Ex re-entered the picture.  He’d been around, after 5 years together we had a lot of the same friends, and we’d done the whole messy “hook-back” thing, but this time was different.  This time we were honest.  We talked about why we broke up, what we needed in a relationship and who we were now, after 4 years apart.  It was intense.  He wanted us to try again after my trip; I left feeling confused.  I’d had such a hard time letting go of him and I still cared about him so much, but… but…

I got on the plane with a head full of the past and a heart fighting to understand the present.  I needed to get away.

I could write an entire blog solely about Australia.  (In fact, I did.) How being alone in a strange city, in a strange country, on a strange continent helped me find the freedom in lonely.  How making friends comes easily when everyone’s the new kid, and how conversations with strangers can be oh so fulfilling.  How much easier it is without the burden of things, of history, of expectations.  How much stronger I am than I knew or remembered.

And I met an Aussie boy; while it wasn’t quite love, it taught me more in 2 months than my 4 years being single.  He showed me what I was worth, after years of not valuing myself much.

Little by little, I let go of all the anger, fear, and “what ifs” that had been shadowing me for years.  Little by little, I let the hot Australian sunshine in.  Between the bright red earth and the stunning blue sky, I realized my life was so much bigger than I’d imagined, and I let go.

After four months (twice as long as I’d originally planned to be gone), I wasn’t ready to come back home.  It felt like I had just experienced a whole other life in the short time I was away.  But in that life I’d grown & achieved some clarity; I’d realized no career or idea of success was worth giving up all the other things in my life that make me happy.  And nothing was worth sacrificing my own self-worth.

I decided to move to DC and live with my Mom for a year to bring some balance into my life, save money, and figure out my next step.  I sold my furniture, got out of my apartment lease, and threw myself a goodbye party… and then got the call that I’d been cast in a feature film.

It terrifyingly changed all my plans, but I took the part.  It was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Now I’m still crisis-ing, still single, still in LA, and still have no clue what I want to do with my life, BUT I’m trusting.  I’ve pulled off the blindfold, woken up blinking in the bright morning of this new chapter of my life, and I’m letting the light pour in.  I honestly have no idea what will happen in the next week or month – I don’t even know where I’ll be living in October – but I’m OK with it.  For once in my life, I’m not trying to plan or control anything.  I’m letting life happen and I’m trusting that I am exactly where I need to be, right now and always.

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