This is a letter I've written to myself.
First off, congratulations! You've worked four long years doing everything you can to learn everything you can. You spent so much of your free time (okay, sleep time) to become something to make yourself proud of. That's all we do it for. And you should be proud. I know it doesn't feel like it quite yet, but it will and you'll need to hang on to that feeling for the next couple of months.
I'm writing you a letter because there's some things you should know. A LOT of things you should know. You always knew you would leave Michigan, but you never knew when or where, and I think a part of you actually never believed you would make it past Chicago. I think there was even a part of you when you arrived in Los Angeles that didn't believe it was going to stick. You expected a natural disaster or emotional breakdown to bring you back to the Great Lakes State.
But it doesn't. Shake that feeling off, sister, because you're only sabotaging yourself. That's my first piece of advice. Believe you can do it. My second piece of advice:
Leave on the date you said you would leave on.
Remember when you had an argument with you're tripmate about staying the whole summer to get a job to save more money and then leave when you have the amount you feel comfortable with? Shut up. Leave at the end of June. Get going quickly. If you stay any longer, you'll just get comfortable and safe in your hometown and leaving for a city you've been to once for three days becomes less and less of an exciting thing and more of a "worst nightmare" thing. Trust me when I say YOU WILL NEVER BE READY. Go, and then deal with the emotions later.
Don't get bogged down in budget or time management. You will, because you're afraid of what will happen if you don't have enough money. But you're also going to splurge once or twice and not feel bad about it. Until later. Also, keep in mind you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to enjoy a night out in Los Angeles or anywhere really. Las Vegas was still fun with $40 of gambling money. (Don't play the slots). And Los Angeles has the best free and cheap entertainment, if you know where to look. Don't let you're transitional period in life dictate you're freedom of fun because sometimes it's the best way to distract yourself.
Remember there are kind people in this world.
It's been three months since you've moved and you can't stay in the place you're at now because the tenants you are with have been suffocating your faith in humankind every single moment of every single day. This city feels like it's rejecting you, that you've invaded her streets and she's determined to send you home. Strangers seem unkind. The few people who have been kind to you are overshadowed by the daily drill of thousands of people. You don't see the good ones, but they will shine in your lowest lows. When a person you just met reaches out to you and offers you a place to stay at the last absolute moment, you will know that they are all good people--they are just too desperate and too scared, like yourself, to leave their panicked minds for three seconds. And that's how it works: those who have moved on help the lowest move up.
You will be scared, and that's ok.
You learn something about yourself that you wish you didn't: you aren't as open to new things as you thought you were. But let's look at it this way: when two or three new things happen, you can deal with it. Then again, when a whole city is replaced with a new set of rules, a new set of people, a new set of culture, food, entertainment, philosophy, etc....maybe you have a hard time processing each new thing. You're going to have a breakdown in an authentic Mexican restaurant because no one speaks English. But eight months later, you're going to walk around the block of your apartment to a pop-up taco hut and ask for tortillas because you made taco meet already and the tortillas you have are moldy.
THE MOST IMPORTANT:
A mutual friend of ours recently told me that we are the kind of people that give everyone a million piles of slack, but when it comes to ourselves, we scrutinize every move we make and convince ourselves that we screwed up everything. That's why you're afraid. That's why you don't take chances because you don't want to feel what it feels like to blame yourself. So you give up. But you have to understand that taking chances is how lives are made. Everything is a chance. Coming to Los Angeles was a big chance and it works out. People do not instantly hate you upon first glance. Never forget what it is about you that makes you proud and hold unto those things. There's no competition. There's no one who you can compare your story to because you are unique. Do what makes YOU happy. And you will, and you'll find yourself reflecting on the past eight months with a smile on your face because all of the heartache and struggle has brought you to a beautiful studio apartment with a view of downtown and a Saturday night of sunny skies, ice cream, and a few improv shows.
And that's all. Los Angeles is a test, and if you believe that you can do it, you'll pass.