J.Crew shirt; J.Crew shorts; Dooney & Bourke bag; Mossimo shoes; vintage belt
It's been almost three years since I took photos in this abandoned schoolhouse. At the time, I was about to move to Los Angeles, and I had no idea what to expect. The first year in Los Angeles was definitely a struggle, but I tried to be openminded about everything, and I'm much happier now. You can see the difference in pictures if you visit the original post.
If you move to a big city without a clear idea of what you want, you can get chewed up and spat out...which definitely happened to me in the first year...so here are a few things that I've learned, that might have been useful to know back then.
1. You don't have to consider every point of view.
There will always be someone who thinks that you're a low-life scumbag with no purpose in life. If you live in a city, then you're going to be surrounded by them. You don't need to find out what makes them the way that they are, and even if you do, you won't be able to change their opinion of you.
2. Take responsibility for absolutely everything in your life. Everything!
Everything in your life reflects back on you. Life has its ups and downs, and everyone has the occasional bad landlord/boss/roommate/boyfriend. If the same thing keeps happening, however, you are the common denominator. There's nothing more frustrating than listening to someone complain about the same set of circumstances again and again, and yet remain unwilling to take an honest look at himself. Taking responsibility for your life and your choices can be difficult, but also incredibly liberating, because it means that you have the power to change them.
3. It's okay to let friendships go.
You're not the same person you were in middle school, so it's natural that you won't always have the same interests as your best friend from middle school. Likewise, life can be kinder or more cruel to different people as they move down different paths, and this will turn some of your childhood friends into hardened, bitter pessimists. If you choose to keep those people in your life, you can also expect an imbalanced friendship.
4. Don't allow someone with no ambition make you feel selfish for having goals.
Refer to Question One. Cities suck up bright-eyed college graduates, chew them up and digest them, and somewhere down the line you're left with the kind of dreamless derelicts who smell vaguely of crushed dreams and ruined promises. Sometimes they haven't lost that Midwestern cheeriness, but you can see the darkness when they smile, seeping out of their pores. People who have given up on their goals usually make it their hobby to try to make you give up on yours, as well. What's that old axiom? Misery loves company? There it is.
5. Don't go more than two weeks without working towards your goals.
Cities are lots of fun. Going out and making new friends is lots of fun. Waking up, aged forty-five, with no career prospects and the faint memory of some goals you used to have is not fun.
6. Don't sacrifice everything in your life in order to reach your goals faster.
Balance is key. I've seen a lot of gorgeous young would-be starlets move to Los Angeles and shack up in some rent-controlled apartment, adopt an ascetic lifestyle and spend all day going to auditions. It's impressive, but they always burn out. Even if you can maintain this lifestyle for a year, and things seem to be going well, there are going to be bad days, and you need someone to comfort you when they happen. You need friends and the occasional diversion from your career path.
7. You can't take yourself seriously as a writer unless you take your 9-5 seriously.
Treat everything in your life with equal respect. If you treat your coworkers like they're a means to an end, they'll end up hating you, and nobody can find the energy to be creative when their work situation is a negative space.
8. Don't tell anyone what the book's about until the first draft is completely finished.
Nobody cares about your goals or dreams until they become reality. Even then, most people still won't care. Why should they? If you don't take yourself seriously enough to finish your projects, they can't be very worthwhile to begin with. On the other hand, your book might have great potential, and your method of selling it needs work. In my experience, when you try to summarize and unfinished piece of work, you end up trying to justify it, and then you start doubting yourself and your commitment to the project.