Welcome to the Land of Fame and Sex.. Am I Gonna Fit In?

“Don’t call it La La Land”. “Be sure to say ‘the’ in front of the highway names.” “You probably won’t hang out with people outside your neighborhood.” “Be wary. People here can be fake.”

I heard a host of advice when I moved across the country to Los Angeles three weeks ago. Coming from Washington, D.C., I didn’t really know what to expect. I had never lived west of Chicago. I didn’t have a strong brow game until November 2015 — the jury is still out on this, my brow game might still be weak. And I still don’t own a floral kimono.

But I’m learning.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share my adventures on the West Coast. We’ll see if it’s “blog-worthy” or even mildly interesting. If it’s not, those weeks will pass by and I’ll try something different. If it is, I’ll keep updating you for another few weeks. Can you tell I work in PR? Deadlines make me happy.

But before I jump in, you may be wondering how I got here. No? Well, that’s too bad, I guess, because I’m going to tell you anyway.

What is your five year plan?

A little about me: I’m a registered dietitian; I work in public relations; I am a fitness enthusiast, foodie and cat owner. For the past (nearly) two years, I’ve been working at a public relations agency in Washington, D.C. I had some of the BEST clients, coworkers and “work perks”. I had traveled to Madrid, Peru, San Francisco and Nashville, on behalf of clients. I lived in an “edgy” yet upscale apartment across from a Whole Foods. I walked only 15 minutes to get to work each morning. I had a core group of friends with whom I would try new restaurants and embark on urban adventures with.

Why do I tell you these things? To help you understand that my life in D.C. was good. It was great! I had no reason to complain or think about leaving. And yet, something was missing. A little voice inside my career-minded brain kept asking me what was my next move? Where did I want to be in the next five years? How was I going to get there?

I had a mini-freak-out and started browsing job openings at other local agencies, quickly realizing that wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to be. I wanted to make a positive change. A meaningful move. I stopped actively looking for other jobs— though I kept my mind open to anything coming my way — and decided to work harder at advancing in my current role.

I got an email at the end of November (remember, this is after I allegedly got my brow game together) from a recruiter at a major CPG company based in Los Angeles. As the reader, you know where this is going. At the time, I did not. I had just finished lunch with a coworker who was leaving the agency for a job at the National Institutes of Health. Ironically, he had asked me what my exit strategy was. I told him I didn’t have one, but that I would love to work in-house for a commodity board or food company that aligns with my nutrition philosophy.. some day. What is my nutrition philosophy? More on that in a later post. But low and behold, when I returned to my desk I had an email from such a company. What were the odds?

I wanted to make a positive change. A meaningful move.

At first I thought it was a scam. I had gotten emails from “recruiters” before. Some called me “Dr. Shelar” — for those of you who aren’t familiar, registered dietitians are not doctors. Some asked me if I wanted to get into medical device sales (I did not). This one was a LinkedIn message that said something to the effect of “We’re hiring someone on our nutrition communications team. I can appreciate your background and wanted to see if you wanted to chat more.” I have a policy of sharing my story or taking a call with anyone who is interested, especially food and nutrition interns and students. I consider it my duty to the food and nutrition universe since a) dietitians working in industry is relatively uncommon and b) I was once a student hungry for information about this career path myself. I know what it’s like to be on the other side of that computer screen, praying to make a connection with someone.

So, long story short (although it might be too late in the post for that cliche), I took the call. It was a ten minute call and by the end of it I had agreed to another call. Which led to three Skype interviews and two more phone interviews. By the middle of December, I was on a plane to LAX for an in-person interview at the company’s headquarters. During this whole process, I was growing increasingly nervous they were going to either hate me and all this effort would be for nothing, or worse, they would like me and ask me to move to California, a proposition I wasn’t sure how to handle. Again, you know where this is going.

If it scares you, it might be worth a try.

Now might be a good time to mention that I have a real problem with FOMO (fear of missing out). I also suffer from “impostor syndrome”. Can I throw any more buzz words at you?

I say this because I was worried that I wasn’t good enough for this (potential) shiny new job offer, that I was way in over my head and that I would regret quitting my current job. At the same time that I was terrified of packing up my life and moving across the country, I was also terrified of staying in D.C. I had decision paralysis. (Buzz words).

I looked everywhere for the answers. I asked friends and family members, I went on long runs and meditated in downward dog, and I consulted my “Inspiration” board on Pinterest. I thought of every mantra I could and here is what I came up with.

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

I needed to be challenged. I was getting comfortable in my current job and I was *gasp* boring. So when I got the call in January, I took some time to determine what I really wanted and I decided to challenge myself. Yes, reader, my story has caught up to what you already know: I took the job!

And here I am two (almost three) months later. I packed up my life (cat and boyfriend, included) and moved into an apartment in Santa Monica. Things are a little bit different than D.C. I have a car now. I live in an “edgy” yet upscale apartment across from a parking garage. I still commute 15 minutes to work in the morning, but I’m sitting the whole time. I am building a core group of friends with whom I can try new restaurants and go on adventures with. Oh yea, and I’m thinking about purchasing a floral kimono. More to come on that.

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