Goodbye, New York or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love LA

From an early age, we’ve been asked what we wanted to be when we grow up. My life wasn’t a high school sitcom where a career assessment test told me I would become a rodeo clown. I wasn’t so lucky; no hi-jinks ensued, no life lesson of realizing the future was in my own hands occurred. Instead, I followed the path on which so many people find themselves: high school, college, career. Somewhere between high school and the real world, I became complacent. Things came easy to me. I earned good grades in school, had many friends, enjoyed my life. However, as many people at this age are discovering, I’ve never had to work for anything.

I have had exactly two life-changing moments in my 25 years. After years of feeling shame and lying to myself, I finally accepted that I was gay. The ramifications of this revelation were profound, of course, but the reaction I received from my close family and friends was surprising. Of all the people distraught or overwhelmed with my announcement, I found that I was the one person who was affected the most. I had finally made a conscious decision to do something drastic with my life. It was single-handedly one of the most freeing decisions I could have possibly made.

That second life-changing moment occurred when I made the decision to move to Los Angeles. I’ve been living in a comfort zone for the past two decades. Every decision I have made, aside from coming out, was made because it was the easiest thing to do. Moving to New York for college was always the plan. Once I was here, it just made sense for me to stay. I grew to love the city immediately. From that first night with my dorm mates in Times Square, I knew that NYC was the place for me.

Fast-forward three years; I have an internship at a fairly well known entertainment agency. By the end of my senior year, staffing changes allowed for a position to open up, allowing me to stay at the company on a full-time basis. I have no intention of biting the hand that fed me; I absolutely appreciate the career opportunities that have been granted to me. However, I honestly cannot say that I worked hard to receive that first job offer.

Don’t get me wrong — it was a good first job. I loved the people I worked with; I loved the work I was doing. But after three years of false promises and increasing frustrations, the job I loved soon became the job I loathed. I felt trapped — the economy was tanking, no one was hiring, and I was too lazy to give up earning money for doing minimal work, even if I did hate the job. I was too scared to make any changes for myself, so I continued to sink into a state of depression and helplessness.

Finally, the day came when I lost said job. It was the wake-up call I had been unknowingly waiting for. For the first time, I had to find a way to earn enough money to live. When I had my job, I had a paycheck coming in; I didn’t need to worry about paying my bills, because I knew they would be covered. Now, however, I needed to figure out not only how to survive, but also how to live.

Since I had moved from an internship to a full-time position, naturally I assumed I would stay in that field because it was the easiest path chosen for me. Now that I was free to choose what I wanted to do with my life, it was exhilarating. For the first time, I realized where I wanted my life to go. I was free to choose any path I wanted. The world was mine for the taking. And what I discovered when I really thought about it was that I wanted to stay in entertainment. I wanted to make my life working with movies and television. It took me losing my job to realize that what I wanted was that job.

A year ago, I wouldn’t have dared considered moving to Los Angeles. A city known for smog and horrible traffic, it was the last place I wanted to live. Losing my job changed that. Before, I had made excuses that I had a job, I had friends, I had a life in New York. Now that I was unemployed, everything changed. Nothing was keeping me on the east coast. My friends will still be my friends, regardless of where I live.

A week-long vacation in Los Angeles this past March opened my eyes to the possibility of moving across the country. Every person I met sang the praises of California living. Those who had transplanted from New York to Los Angeles regaled me with stories of sunshine and success. People are happy in Los Angeles. Hollywood is in Los Angeles. I can see myself having a life in Los Angeles.

Besides, I’m tired of New Yorkers, even though I now consider myself to be one after living here for seven years. But I’m tired of the subway, the rats, the trash, the beggars, the tourists. I’m tired of being miserable. I’m tired of winter. I’m tired of not caring.

When I made the announcement that I was moving out west, people immediately started offering me advice and help in finding apartments and jobs. I already feel welcome in LA, and I’m not moving for another nine weeks. This move is a game-changer; there’s no turning back. I have a real goal in my life now. I am consciously making an effort to improve my situation. I’m moving to California to find a job and to find happiness.

Besides, I look good with a tan.

(Facebook post, March 28, 2011)

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