Moving Across the Country

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There’s a reason I haven’t written many blog posts over the past month. I haven’t had much time to write during that time because I was moving. Not just moving across town, moving across the country. From New York to Los Angeles.

For the past six years, it had been my dream to move to Los Angeles and pursue a career in screenwriting. My plan was to work a part time job to save up money, and spend the rest of my time writing, developing my craft. After six years, I was ready financially (I had more than enough money saved up) and artistically (I had completed several screenplays and a novel). Yet I still hesitated to make the move. It would be the first time in my life truly living on my own.

I went away for college, but that was different. I was only a two and a half hour drive from home, housing was provided, and my parents paid for my tuition. Even senior year, when I lived off campus, my roommates took care of everything with the landlord. All I did was hand them the rent check from my parents.

But moving to Los Angeles, I would have to find my own place, pay my own rent, and deal with the landlord myself. I’d never done any of that before, and I didn’t know if I could handle it. The unknown was frightening, which was why I hesitated to make the move for so long, even after I had the money to do so. Even more than the move itself, I feared telling my family and my boss about it. It was easier to just stay home, work the same dead-end job, and maintain the status quo. So I did.

The idea of moving across the country seemed so daunting and unattainable because there were a million things to do to get there. I resigned myself to the fact that I may never move. This coincided with the low point of my social anxiety, when I thought I would never overcome that either. My future plans and my social anxiety were intertwined, after all.

Then I started working on my social anxiety with meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy. These practices not only helped my shyness, they helped me see the plan for my future more clearly. I realized I didn’t have to do everything at once. I couldn’t move across the entire country in one day. But if I took one little step toward moving to Los Angeles at a time, what seemed like such a long and treacherous journey would become a lot more bearable.

The first step was quitting my job. I was afraid to approach my boss about it, not that he desperately needed me to stay there or anything, I just wanted to avoid the confrontation. I didn’t even know how to quit, since I only worked weekends and never actually saw my boss. Could I quit over the phone? Or email? That seemed taboo, so I waited for the opportunity to present itself. Except when you wait for the perfect situation, it may never come. Eventually, I said the hell with it and sent a simple email to my boss, explaining my plan. It was quick and easy. He replied, and we decided on an end date: December 31st— the end of 2014.

Then I had to tell my family. For me, this was even more frightening than telling my boss, because I actually cared what my family would think. But when I finally told my family my plans to move, they all supported me in my decision. My fear and worrying was for nothing, as is often the case with social anxiety.

So in January, I packed up everything I could fit inside my car. I was finally ready to drive to California, but at the last minute, I decided to take a detour first, and I drove down to my grandmother’s condominium in Florida. I figured I’d stay there for a couple of weeks and relax at the beach and get some writing done before continuing my trip. Except a couple of weeks turned into a couple of months. I had gotten so comfortable there that I didn’t want to leave. I kept saying to myself, just one more week… But like before in New York, I was again hesitating to move out of fear. I drove from New York to Florida in one day, but driving from Florida to California would be a several days trip. I had never stayed at a hotel by myself before. How do you even do that?

Eventually, in the middle of May, I was spurred into action by my grandmother. She had booked a flight to Los Angeles to visit some extended family, and she offered to let me stay at her hotel while I searched for an apartment. I had wanted to do everything by myself, in part to prove that I could, but if someone was willing and offering to help, why should I turn them down on principle.

In order to meet my grandmother in Los Angeles, I had to hit the road a week before her flight. So I planned a loose route, got in my car, and drove west.

I stayed at my first hotel in Mobile, Alabama, and it was easier than I thought. I didn’t have to say or do much, other than pay the clerk at the front desk. After Alabama, I continued west, stopping along the way in New Orleans, Houston, San Antonio, Roswell, Albuquerque, Sedona, and Phoenix. Seven nights later, my initial fear of booking hotels by myself was nothing. I’d done it so many times, I’d become an expert. Now I can’t believe that was something I used to fear.

After an eight-day road trip across the country, through marshlands, plains, deserts, mountains, and valleys, I finally arrived at my destination: Los Angeles, California. My six year dream had come true… Almost. I may have been in Los Angeles, but I still had the hard part ahead of me: finding an apartment.

To be continued…

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