Staying on theme with last Friday’s post about twenty-somethings.
I was in my junior year at Ithaca College when I applied and was admitted to the communication school’s LA satellite program. My father and I drove from New York to California with what I could fit in my ’97 white Ford Taurus. Once settled in LA, my first task was to find an internship. I sifted through the database of internships given to us, but none of them appealed to me. I decided I would cold call companies where I knew I wanted to work (George Clooney and Steven Soderberg’s Section 8, Ben Stiller’s Red Hour, Drew Barrymore’s Flower Pictures), but there was one actor in particular I was itching to work for. I called his office and asked if they needed an intern. They said not really but to call back in a week. I did and with little convincing got them to agree to letting me come in twice a week. The internship was painfully boring. I spent most of my time reading old scripts and surfing the Internet on an Apple Imac G3. I hated it. Is this what Hollywood is like? I wasn’t learning anything!
The semester came to a close and our final project was to interview someone in the business. They suggested that we not be afraid to interview people other than the assistants, so I immediately asked if I could interview the president of the actor’s company. The assistant scheduled a time for me to meet with the president and a few days later I found myself nervously asking him questions on the office rooftop. We talked for three hours and within that time the president asked me if I wanted to move to LA and be his assistant.
That very second has been the most pivotal moment in my life up to this point. If my story were a movie, that moment would have frozen in time and everything that came before then would have fast forward in front of my eyes. I reminded the president that I was only a junior in college and knew absolutely nothing about the business. He laughed and said, “You’ll learn.” I told him that I had to think about it and would give him an answer the next day. My memory has been escaping me as of late, but I’ll probably never forget the 30 minutes after that conversation. The mix of anxiety and excitement. “She’s So Heavy (I Want You)” by the Beatles playing on the radio. I already knew in the bottom of my heart what the answer would be, but I had parents, a boyfriend, and a college to explain this all to.
The first person I called was my mother, “Mom, I’ve been offered an opportunity that I can’t pass up.” I explained to her the details and being the wonderful mother that she is, she trusted my judgement. My father is gung-ho for anything so that took no convincing at all. My boyfriend suddenly knew it was the end of our relationship before I ever did.
I had three weeks after the end of the semester to tie up loose ends and move to Los Angeles. I spent most of those weeks crying. I was not fearful of making a mistake, but rather realizing that I was moving 3000 miles from the people I love and my life as I knew it was about to change forever.
I moved to Los Angeles on June 1st, 2004. 12 days later I celebrated my 21st birthday alone and it set the precedent for a feeling that I would have for most of my five years in Los Angeles.
Being the young, idealistic 21 year-old that I was, I gave my life to that job. I worked countless hours and was proud of where I was. Was I always good at the job? Absolutely not. I didn’t have the industry skills nor many of the life skills yet to deal with aspects of the job and living in Los Angeles. However, I was determined to make it work and gave it my all. I was going to make it in that biz.
Five years later, after consistent bouts of anxiety attacks, drinking myself to sleep, vapid relationships, and phone calls to my parents crying, “What does it all mean?!” I finally had to ask myself, “But make it to what in the biz? What do you actually want, Lauren?”
Having wanted to work in the film business my whole life mixed with the determination to make work the wonderful opportunity that was offered to me at 20, I was in absolute denial that I was completely and utterly unhappy.
If I wasn’t happy working in the business I’ve dreamed of my whole life- the industry I went to college for- then what the hell am I supposed to do???
According to the NY Time’s article, “What Is It About Twenty-Somethings?”, we change jobs an estimated seven times in our 20’s. Our parents scratch their heads when we tell them that we’re unhappy with our jobs and want to try something completely different. Years ago you stuck with a job- just like a marriage- for good or for bad.
If I’m unhappy, if I’m having freakin‘ anxiety attacks, then I would be a fool to hang in there.
That’s not to say that I haven’t questioned my leaving Los Angeles. Did I make a huge mistake? Am I passing up a wonderful opportunity?
I spent the summer in between leaving the business and moving to Austin in a bewildered haze.
I’ll never forget sitting at my desk realizing that I had no plan. I felt like a failure and a loser. For the first time in my life I had no idea what the hell I was doing.