When they say it isn’t easy, they aren’t kidding. When your friends look at you and say “I could never do that” they aren’t kidding. Going out into the unknown on your own is the best and the worst thing you will ever do. Chasing anything; a job, a dream, a goal, a boy, a passion, a purpose..it is all scary. Choosing anything is terrifying.
And here is what will happen:
You will be tested.
You will find yourself on a subway platform in a really bad neighborhood in Brooklyn at 5AM crying because you are lost and you don’t have money for a cab and you have to be at work in 30 minutes and you can’t get cell service because well, you just can’t. And no one will speak English and you won’t be able to find the stairs to get out of the subway station and you won’t know north from south and you will want to ask someone on the street for directions but you don’t even know where you are trying to go. And you will be late, and you will get yelled at and you will say you are really sorry and then you will do shit work for shit money and you will get back on the subway and try to find your way home. And later that night when you are spending what is left of your $200 alone at a bar you will meet a stranger and they will make you laugh like no one has made you laugh before and they will tell you stories you can hardly believe and you will end up singing karaoke until 5AM and making plans for the next night and wondering why you were ever so sad on the subway platform in Bushwick.
And that’s why you have to live in Manhattan, at least once.
You will decide that nothing is more important than your dream.
And you will miss all of the parties. You will miss the Holidays and the reunions and the weddings and the funerals and the regular things that everyone you know gets to do but you do not. Because you are broke. And you are chasing. And you will cry on Thanksgiving when you get so drunk going from random Thanksgiving to random Thanksgiving and all of these people you have only known for six months or a year are inviting you into their homes, because it’s New York and that’s what they do. And you will wish you could hug your dad and tell your sister you love her in person with a really cool gift you bought in Soho but you can’t because you are not home with them you are here with strangers. And you will be happy-sad, which for those of you that don’t know, is this emotion where you cry and laugh at the same time and you are just utterly confused. And your friends will post their inside jokes on Facebook or whatever social media platform that has been invented and you will want to unfriend them because you are so jealous and you are so alone in the most crowded city ever and you are eating some weird Indian dish that you have never had because again, you are at a New York Thanksgiving. And then you will end your night at a speakeasy in the East Village that you can only get into if you know the secret password and the secret entrance and you know it because that really cool stranger you met that one night you were sad is now a close friend and they always know what’s cool and you will dance in the empty streets because ironically New York City is dead on Thanksgiving and there are no people and no cars only a few lost souls who stay up late just like you and wonder what life is all about and why we are all supposed to be so damn thankful in the middle of November when the weather is atrocious.
And you will realize that all of these strangers that you didn’t know six months ago are now your New York family and that is well, it is something that changes you, forever.
And then you will move away from New York.
Because you are tired. But you haven’t given up on your dream you have just decided that you want it to be a little different. And plus, you are running and when you are running you have to keep moving or the crap you are running from eventually catches up to you. But you will blame it on the dream, because you are chasing, right? And if you wan’t this thing that you gave up all these other things for, you better be all in. So you tell yourself a new city will make it better and will give you new opportunities but what you won’t realize until you get there is that it takes a really long time to make New York friends anywhere else, as a matter of fact you will learn there won’t be people like the people that you learned to love in New York, ever. But it does get better and you will learn new streets and challenge yourself in new ways and you will take all of the things you learned out east to this new place and you will be more successful. You will now have $600-$800 in your bank account and you will feel rich, and like, accomplished. And when people ask you what it is like to live in New York you will act like it is no big deal while you secretly remember all of those nights you cried on the subway. And you will get better jobs, because you are more experienced and your New York experience anywhere else is like gold. And you will do some really really cool shit and meet some super talented people and then the show you are working on will get cancelled. And just like that the $600 you have in your bank account is suddenly going to your landlord. And all of those tweets of that awesome set you got to go to every day and act like producing television is actually a job and not just a bunch of fools making shit up you delete because you are embarrassed that you are unemployed. And you cry. And you take a shitty job that pays shit and you commute on the crappiest most depressing highway ever 45 minutes to a job you hate and you listen to NPR hoping to get inspired. And you are just sad, for like three months. And you doubt yourself every morning when you wake up and your mind suddenly stops reminding you of all of the amazing people you met and the amazing things you did and it just talks to you about how much the commute to the job you hate, sucks.
And then one morning you wake up, you go to Office Depot and you buy a whiteboard. And you write your dream in giant letters on the board and you hang it above the bed. And the dream says “You can and you will. You are going to move to Hollywood and you are going to make movies for a living. Never, ever, ever give up again” And you will start a count down.
And the day will come and you will move to Los angeles.
And for a little while it will feel like all of your dreams have come true. And you will play beach volleyball and go to bars where Ryan Gosling frequents and you will start talking only about movies and reading only about the upfronts and pilot season and you will have “working lunches” where you like read a guys script and then talk about it. And you will get a job at a really fantastic studio and they will pay you shit, because they can, but you won’t care because you get to watch movies for a living. And you will go to all of the networking events, I mean like all of them. And you will meet really interesting people but you will notice that they only talk about the movies, ever. But you love it and you are eating up the panels of major TV execs talking about why they buy what they buy and how to write good television and you are tan. You are so freaking tan and it’s December. And one day you will wake up and you will feel empty. It’s not that you still don’t love driving down Sunset Blvd and almost not breathing when it breaks and you see the ocean, no that is still really amazing. It’s just that, you feel this void, this really deep and heavy void. And you will have piles of scripts next to your bed that you never read more than 30 pages of because they are terrible, just terrible. And you will wish you could just be creative, just actually tangibly get your hands dirty and feel a part of something. Because this? This is just like the business of movies. This is just someone slapping a really good marketing campaign on complete crap and selling it to the masses. This isn’t the dream, this is the death of the dream.
And you will get a call to move again. This time the opportunity is just undeniable, right? Such good money, such good experience. And you will walk into your bosses office (who you love) and you will cry and you will say I can’t work for peanuts and something is wrong and I love working for you but I just, this isn’t the dream and I think this other thing is the dream so I have to go. I have to run.
And you will move again.
And this time it is just for a brief period of time, you tell yourself. You are just going for this one gig and then you will return to the dream factory where you felt a void but believe it can be fixed because it is always sunny. And you will work this incredible gig and get all of this experience and do really hard work and meet really talented people that get work all of the time, which in this business is like, impossible. And you will miss more weddings and reunions and funerals and you will start to feel guilty because, I don’t know, you just do. But it won’t stop you, you will still be chasing. You still believe. And then you will take off to Europe on your own because everyone says you have to, you just have to. And you will ride the train in Germany alone on your birthday and you will walk the grey streets of Berlin alone, on your birthday. And you will instagram and blog about how incredibly liberating it is to be alone in Berlin on your birthday but not be so sure. And then you will meet a beautiful interesting Australian women. And she will take you on the train to Hamburg and show you a part of Germany that wasn’t even on your radar. And a man selling roses will come to the table and you will leave with hundreds of roses and stay in some weird hostile and wake up and drink coffee in a little shop next to the river and you will understand why everyone said you must go to Europe alone and that this is how you chase the dream.
And you will come back to the states and you will get recruited again by another awesome company that seems to have all of the things dreams are made of and you will move again, because at this point you’re really good at it. And you will arrive in another new city with all of the energy and excitement you always have. And you will dive right in and you will work until 7 even though you are the only one in the office but that is really strange because you are used to working until 10 so, 7 is like a half day. And then eventually you will only work until 5 because that is what everyone else does. And you will sit in meetings and learn a lot of new things and meet people unlike all of the other people you know. And you will live in a stellar apartment that overlooks the mountains and you will wake up in the morning and think to yourself, okay, this is what dreams are made of. And you will think, this is going to work, ok I can do this. And you will come up with all of these ideas for your position and you will push some of them through and really enjoy it and get a lot accomplished but eventually, you will need to chase.
And you will meet a boy.
And you will fall. Really really really hard. And it will be so confusing. You will want to give up everything for him, all of it, all of the dreams, all of the running all of the chasing. You will want to stop and be and breathe and rest and love. You will convince yourself that this is your new dream, that this is the thing maybe? This was what you were doing all along? Making your way to him? And he won’t be ready, but you won’t care because you are a dreamer and this is the dream so this is the thing that you will do. Because you believe that anything is possible.
And you will lose yourself in him. And he will break you, unintentionally. He will make you doubt everything you ever believed in before. Some days he will make the cold, rainy subway station in Brooklyn at 5am look like a dream. And other days he will make the movie sets and the Ryan Gosling bars seem like a joke. And you will be so confused. You will say I’ve always given up everything for the dream and it has worked. Remember the New York Thanksgiving and the stranger? Remember the whiteboard and Chicago? Remember Santa Monica and the night you went to the premiere of that show on the Paramount lot and met all of those famous people? Why isn’t this working? I am chasing, and I am floundering.
And you will wake up and decide to leave.
Because you are a runner and you’ve gotten really good at leaving when the dream no longer feels so dreamy. And you will say no, this isn’t the dream, I can’t. The dream is supposed to feel good, the dream is supposed to be beautiful and glamorous. I am not supposed to be so afraid, afraid was for Brooklyn, afraid was for the security line at the airport when my mom died. I already did afraid. I am supposed to have it figured out. I am supposed to have success. I am supposed to have it all together and have the career, and the lover and the family and the money and the dream. Wait, what happened to the dream? Who am I? How did I get here? Why am I so lost? Where did my dreams go?
And you will go home.
You will sleep in your sister’s spare bedroom, the same sister you wish you could have seen that Thanksgiving and brought a cool gift to her from Soho. You will get a new job, a different job a way off “the path” job. You will write a reflective blog post about your last relationship and hurt his feelings, accidentally. You will feel guilty but at the same time not, because he took all of your dreams from you, or at least so it seems. You will attend brunches with your friends who talk about their husbands and hold their babies in their beautiful houses and you will wonder what you are supposed to do with all of this experience and knowledge and history and story. You will wonder if you will ever be on a film set again, if you will ever make it back to that place in Malibu where you can drink wine and listen to music with your friend Will. You will wonder if that part of you has to die because you came home and no one here knew you there. You will wish your ex would call because it seems that he does have a few of your dreams somewhere in his jacket pocket and because of that you’ve decided to give up on those specific dreams, the dreams some people refer to as “love”.
And then you will talk to your sister about Thanksgiving and get all anxious because the whole family is coming and all of these other people and you can’t just go be alone in New York in that speakeasy in the East Village and forget about how your mom died.
And you will suddenly, in this random moment of clarity and perspective realize, that the dream was never Manhattan or LA, it was never the fancy job on a movie set or the mountains of the Pacific North West or being in the arms of your lover, it was you.
You are the dream.
And you will realize you weren’t chasing a job, a dream, a goal, a boy, a passion or a purpose. You were chasing yourself. Like a dog chasing his tail, you were chasing you, your talents, your identity, your emotions, your sadness, your happiness, your gumption.
And you will start to take care with the dream. You will be gentle and patient and kind. You will be more deliberate and thoughtful and you will stop running. You will plan and think and stew and collaborate and you will realize that all of these crazy pieces of you, all of these ideas and tests and nights in Manhattan and “failures” that they are what actually makes the dream.
And that without them, there never would be any dreams that actually come true.