How A Rocky Year In L.A. Helped Me Discover What I Really Wanted in Life
"We've decided to terminate your position and have nowhere else to put you in the company, so therefore are terminating you as well."
Not the words I expected to hear last fall when I went in to work for what I thought was a normal meeting. I'd walked in with a job and left unemployed. Not just unemployed, but terminated.
I had moved to Los Angeles a year earlier, having never visited the city. My thinking was: I had already made two big moves on my own to new cities, and am an adventurous soul, so how could Los Angeles be any different?
I was wrong.
My first few months in L.A. brought a series of, ahem, interesting roommate situations: three moves in as many months, many two-hour commutes (one way) and yoga classes that required getting to the studio more than 30 minutes before class to then be elbowed out of the way once the doors were opened. (If you've never been to LA and think I'm joking, go to any popular Santa Monica yoga studio during prime time.)
I quickly realized that life in Los Angeles was going to be more difficult than in other cities I'd lived. I stuck with it, changed jobs, moved to yet another new place — six total in the 14 months I lived there — and spent a lot of time listening to well-meaning friends and family telling me what they thought I should do.
The day I was terminated, I fell apart. The year had already been tough and that was the last straw my fragile soul could take. After a day of crying and calling friends and family for their guidance, I went to my favorite yoga class. I had been fighting against my soul for so long as I clung to what people were telling me I needed to do that I had forgotten to listen to what my heart was telling me.
That night as I moved on my mat, I realized that it was time for me to take charge of what I wanted. Later, wen I left the studio, I was overwhelmed by a beautiful double rainbow, and knew that sign confirmed everything my heart had been telling me that day.
It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows from that moment, but I learned something very important as I reveled in my newly-found freedom.
If I can't hear my heart speak, or am blatantly ignoring it because I'm pursuing what others tell me I need to do, it's time to take a step back and look inside.
Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project is all about how to be more in touch with your true self and live a happier life. One of her tips is to return to what you loved as a child…so, I tried it. I read books, played outside, took a few afternoon naps, learned how to cook and spent a lot of time on my yoga mat. As I did what I love I started to remember who I am, and to see more clearly where I really wanted to be.
Thinking about what you want is terrifying. Making it happen is what makes you come alive.
LA was not where I wanted to live. There are some amazing things in Los Angeles and I have some great memories, but I wanted pine trees, no commute stress, seasons other than endless summer and a smaller community. Thinking about moving again was overwhelming since my boxes had just been unpacked for the sixth time, but I knew what I needed to do. With the support of friends, everything came together and I am back in the Pacific Northwest.
The voice of my heart has changed from a quiet, sometimes inaudible whisper, to a full volume, singing in the car with my favorite song kind of happiness, which is exactly the way it should be.