If I’m being fully honest, I’ve always been a bit of a loner. It’s just how I am. I’ve got this lone wolf thing and even when I find my way close to someone, I can be evasive. Even my very best friends know there is a part of me that is secretive and maybe always will be.
So for me, little Miss Loner, little Miss She-Wolf who dances with her own secrets, a huge part of growing up and evolving has been learning to not only let other people do things for me, but to actively ask for it. As in, I have to ask for help, and I have to ask for what I want. For years, I’ve taken some warped sense of pride in, “No, thank you, I can do it myself.” While self-reliance is a great thing, it’s not really the reason we’re here on Earth, you know? We’re supposed to be part of tribes. We’re supposed to work together.
And I’ve been good at that in a lot of ways. I’m a theatre person—I so get the art of collaborating. If a friend needs help, I’m there in a heartbeat. But if I need something? Hmm, well, let me just try 5000 different ways that might work first and if they all fail, then maybe I will think about asking someone else.
So early on in 2014, I had what I can only call the board game experience of break-ups. I’m sure you guys know what I mean— the game ends and it’s as if you suddenly wake up from whatever weird trance you were held in and you stare at the board in front of you like, “This?! I nearly fought with my friend over Monopoly? But I don’t even like Monopoly that much!” It was one of those things where once the dice was rolled, I didn’t quite know how to stop. It’s so easy to get caught up in a board game that sometimes you don’t even pause to ask yourself, “Hey, wait, am I actually enjoying this or is this quite possibly the worst thing ever?”
Something about this whole board game break-up made me want to be very deliberate from here on out—because the thing is, I had gotten to a place in my life where I was and yet somehow I had been drawn into something that, at the end of the day, it turned out I didn’t even want. It is so impossibly easy to get swept up in things. And I really, really don’t want to be that person anymore.
So, a month or so before my 27th birthday, there was this huge shift. So, so much changed for me. I started being honest about what I wanted, what I was doing with my life, what I wanted to do but wasn’t yet. I started openly sharing with others. And holy shit, you guys—doors started flying open.
From April onward, beauty has come into my life in nothing short of bounties. I started falling in love with people and places and projects. Opportunities I had only dreamed of seemed to fall into my lap. And suddenly I had all these choices to make, one of which included, wait am I actually going to leave LA?
This year has, without a doubt, been the most magical year I’ve ever had in LA. Work-wise, I’ve gotten to work on such cool things, I’ve had more fulfilling professional success than I’ve ever known and I am on the precipe of more coming down the pipeline. Friend-wise, I am happier than I ever have been. I have met soul sisters and brothers, people who I share a connection with that is nothing less than sacred. I’ve become part of such beautiful communities. My roots are deep and true.
And I am leaving anyway.
People tell me I do not have to go, and that is true. I could stay. There is a lot for me here. But even were it not for the work opportunity in my new home (and eeeee I cannot wait to tell about it officially, since it is still unfolding), I think I would have to go anyway. How could I not, knowing how great the past year has been? That I’ve had everything I could’ve wanted, and yet somehow it was not enough?
I’ve come to see my departure from California like a very painful break-up, the kind where you love the person very much. You know, where you’ve been with them for years, the two of you know each other like the back of your hand. They make you laugh, make you smile, know your favorite foods and songs. Sure, they don’t make your heart skip a beat, and maybe they never really did, but you could have a good life with this person. A really good life. In fact, you already do, in so many ways. And yet. And yet….
And yet sometimes in the middle of the night, you feel a longing so intense it scares you. Something in your soul whispers there is more out there for you, that your future? Well, your future is elsewhere.
I have seen friends go through break-ups like this, sat with them on the floor in front of boxes, seen them sob over seemingly innocuous dvd cases that suddenly hold so much meaning. I’ve watched them cry and then I’ve cried with them because I didn’t know what else to do. The choice they had made was painful, yes- but it was the right choice. Relief would not come right away, but one day, it would and they would know walking away had been the best thing they could’ve done. Not that the decision to end it had been easy. I have seen friends struggle with these decisions for months, years, unable to leave the familiar comfort, even while fully knowing it was the right thing to do.
So when I realized I was faced with such a choice, I knew I didn’t want to be someone who stayed even when my time somewhere was clearly over. In my heart, the choice was easy (knowing I needed to go was an undeniable truth) but of course reality was different. Telling has been scary and hard. Knowing what this decision meant was terrifying—that I had spent a decade building a life here and I was saying good-bye to all of that, most especially the people I love.
In the song California, Joni Mitchell writes, “california, I’m coming home, will you take me as i am?”
My concern is the opposite of Joni’s, really– California has always taken me as I am, occasional funny accent and all. As I’ve begun the rounds to say good-bye, I’ve wanted to ask all the people I love in California, all the places and faces and events that have shaped me– will you take me as I am? Will you love me even as i go? Will you understand this is how it has to be?
All I can ask is that you know the why– that I am leaving, even though I love you all; even though I am happy in so many ways; even though it is scary; even though it is hard. I am leaving because loving a place is not the same as being in love with one, no matter how much you cherish the people around you. And mostly, I am leaving because once I realized the only thing more painful than going was staying, the choice was simple.
Tennessee Williams once said, “There comes a time for departure, even when there is no certain place to go.” I am terribly lucky, then, I suppose, because I do have a certain place to go, and my God, just the thought of it sets my heart on fire.
So as we head into 2015, I’ll tell you all what my goal is: to be a fearless woman. I’d like 2015 to be the year I am unabashedly brave. Being brave, by the way, means being very vulnerable. I know because so far at 27, bravery has led me to ask for what I’ve wanted—some of which brought me elation, and others, heartbreak (and not the board game kind). Both made me feel terribly alive, and proud too—that I never let my fear get bigger than my dreams, my hope, my desires.
So my thesis for the next year is borrowed from the incomparable Cheryl Strayed: I will be brave. I will be authentic. Because, the truth is, we’re all going to die. Might as well ring the iron bell like it’s dinnertime.
Here’s to 2015. May your dreams always be bigger than your fears.