Long time no chat — 17 months to be exact. What is new with all of you? Me? I’ve started my life over once again. (I know, I know…) Each time I think I’ve got my ducks in a row, they start a dance party and my emotions get the brunt of it. I wish my brain and heart would cooperate, but that would just be too easy, right? In order to sort through some of those things, I decided to come back to the best form of therapy I’ve ever had: Blogging. So let’s get started then, shall we? Grab yourself a drink, cause it’s story time!
I finished theatre school in April 2014. The summer prior to that I had worked at the Edmonton Opera and continued to do so for my last two semesters of school. Upon graduation, I walked into a full time job there as a Production Assistant, eventually working my way up to Coordinator. Every day was a new kind of challenge and my colleagues were some of the greatest people I’d ever met. I was set.
Then in September of that year, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to be an ASM on St Albert Children’s Theatre’s production of A Christmas Story the Musical. I say opportunity of a lifetime because that job truly changed me. There was a week I worked 114 hours from Sunday through Saturday (at both jobs) and though the exhaustion was getting to me, the sheer fun of it all trumped everything my body was throwing at me. These kids were so passionate about what they did and they never let anything get them down. There I was at 25, learning from them. Not to mention everyone else around me! Though I had finished school, I was still surrounded by a variety of mentors at both jobs. People who wanted to pass on their knowledge and share their crazy stories (because there are always crazy theatre stories). You can’t ask for much more than that.
But I did. Because I do that.
Why you ask? The short answer : sadness.
Do you ever get that feeling like you’re just stuck? Like you’ve achieved about as much as you’re going to? That everyone around you is getting married (or divorced), having babies, buying condos, going on yet another trip to Mexico and that you just don’t fit in? That no matter what you do/accomplish/see, that it just doesn’t quite cut it? That the life you planned is not the one you’re now in? That was me.
I remember a time where I had planned a life for myself. In fact, I remember several of those times. There was the time I tried to be a wife and mother at 18, the time I tried film school and working freelance at 20, the time I tried traveling the world at 22, and when I decided to make the switch to theatre at 23.. Then I didn’t really do that for a while. I kinda stuck to that plan for as long as I could, and somehow here I was.. Almost 4 years in and not happy. I loved my work so much but everything else just wasn’t working. So I tried to fix that.
In an effort to catch up to my fellow Albertans, I attempted online dating (again) and started shopping for a condo sometime in May of last year. I got myself on a waiting list for a condo in St Albert and quickly decided that online dating was still not for me. About a week later I went to on a trip to Norway, Morocco, the Netherlands and London and that was when things started to change.
I landed in Norway, exhausted beyond belief. I can never really sleep on an airplane and now I had a two hour wait for my train to Sandefjord. As I sat at the airport desperately trying to stay awake, the familiar feeling of the unknown started creeping in. To clarify — I mean that when I travel I often get this uneasy but excited but nervous but enthusiastic feeling. Where I just don’t know what is going to happen to me that day and that I’m okay with it. That feeling was coming back and I was loving it.
My first day in Sandefjord was incredible. Walking around a town where I didn’t quite understand the language or the exchange rate (yikes Norway, you so expensive!) and seeing people going about their daily lives in a place that people like me dream about, I started to think. And think some more. The next day I flew to London and then off to Marrakesh with Wayne after that.
Over a late night discussion on the Riad’s rooftop, I came to the conclusion that I was unhappy because I let myself be unhappy. I used to have such big ideas and plans and somewhere along the way, I lost that part of me and it was time to get it back. As we watched the stars trickle out in a city where everything is so intense all the time, I felt so peaceful. The wheels were in motion.
After a week of Moroccan and Londoney adventures, I said goodbye to Wayne and made my way to the Netherlands solo like I had done three years prior. As I wandered the familiar cobblestone streets of Amsterdam with no real agenda other than finishing the next chapter in 11/22/63 and inhaling as many chocolate covered waffles as I could, I got to do even more thinking. I realized that for some time now I had been letting other people’s expectations and compliments steer me in directions I may not have taken otherwise. Not that this was such a bad thing. I did accomplish a lot of things I’m immensely proud of. They were just not necessarily the things I had planned on. It was time for me to take control of my life again and if I wanted it to go a certain way, it was up to me to make that happen. Not to continue to ride this wave that was very comfortable and full of lovely experiences and even better people, but that just wasn’t for me. It was time to find what it was that made me happy.
A few weeks later, I went on a trip to Vegas with my best friend, Jentre, for her 27th birthday. She is my absolute favorite person to travel with. Road trips especially. She’s ready for anything all the time. She’s a market fanatic just like me. Loves the same terrible music I do. Tries all the foods I’m scared to try. And most importantly, she loves to drive, so I can get lost in my thoughts (often while performing Celine Dion or S Club 7 for her). So what did we do on our trip to Vegas? We drove to Utah.
As we went crossed terrain neither of us had experienced before, leaving us both completely awestruck, I started to feel like I knew what I wanted. From the Walmarts peppered across the deserts of northeastern Arizona to the terracotta coloured peaks of Zion National Park, I was taking in every sight, sound and smell and loving every minute of it.
For size reference, look at the motorhome in the bottom left corner.
We made it to the park* and went on a three hour hike around the three Emerald Pools in 40 degree heat. Again, I felt “wow this is really what I love doing..” and it just solidified that living in Edmonton was the problem. Sure I had lots of great friends, family, colleagues, career opportunities, board game nights and farmers markets that I loved, but the river valley is not a mountain or an ocean and maybe, just maybe, it was time to get back to that.
We made a final pitstop at a road side gem shop, where the owner regaled us with tales of her near death experiences and borderline interesting facts about rocks. After this charming encounter, Jentre and I hit the road and got to talking about more serious life stuff instead of the scenery around us. We both have a tendency to be like ‘oh wow! oh my gosh! oh wow!’ whenever we go anywhere together. I told her how I was feeling and how my recent trips had really changed my way of thinking and that maybe it was time to move back to Vancouver. Being one of my closest friends, she had seen the person I had turned into over the last year and understood that this wasn’t a spur of the moment kind of decision for me. She told me she’d miss me a ton but if this was what I wanted — that I had to go for it. The little push from someone I cared so much about meant the world to me. It was just what I needed to get going.
The next day we went to California! I had booked us a flight with a 9 hour layover in LA so I could show her some of my favorite spots around town before heading home. We hit up the LA Farmers Market (Sticker Planet, represent!) and the Grove, drove by the CBS studio, walked up and down Hollywood Boulevard, checked out the souvenir shops, went to Venice Beach, scoped out the board walk, bought some artwork, stopped at a Trader Joe’s for cookie butter and smores before we made our way back to LAX with time to spare. As we got out of the car in Venice and the salt water air hit my nose, I knew right then that I made the right choice. Now it was time to make it happen.
I went back to work a few days later feeling renewed. I gave myself a year to make this change and to save up and start fresh in Vancouver. I started working at the fruit stand again and was feeling like I had a purpose and it was great! A few weeks later a show I was working on started to amp up quite a bit and it began to take up a lot of my spare time and eventually consumed me and burned me out. Truth be told, it was entirely my fault. I took on more than I could handle and when I felt things were not going the way I wanted them to, I cast my feelings aside, put my head down and worked. Not the best way to deal with stress, but hey.
As the weeks went on, the sadness had creeped back in again. I wondered if my Vancouver dreams didn’t need to be so far down the line. Maybe I could pick up a few extra shifts when the show went up? Or I could sell some of my furniture projects? And stop going out for lunch all the time… and maybe just maybe, I could make it work sometime in the fall. Around this time, one of my best friends had ended a relationship and was in the process of moving back to Vancouver and was looking for a roommate. I took this as a sign that it was time to go and I put all my energy into that and on September 25th I drove my ass out to Vancouver to start my life again. Not without shedding a few (several) tears (ugly sobs), as I had to leave behind the people who had helped shape me into the person I’d become over the last four years in Edmonton. But I knew I had big dreams, both career and travel wise, and now was the time to make them happen.
The first couple weeks were phenomenal!!! Three days in we found rooms for Andrew and I in a house with two awesome roommates and free parking (What!). As I searched for a lamp later that week, I got a phone call from the Arts Club. I had submitted a resume for another job I was not remotely qualified for, but they were also looking for an ATD on… A CHRISTMAS STORY and wanted me to come in to meet with the TD the next day. I could hardly believe my ears! Though it was only a 5 week contract, it was working in my chosen field and on one of my favorite shows! I met Eugenio and we immediately hit it off. Those five weeks with him and the rest of the crew at the Stanley Theatre were phenomenal. I learned so much in my time there and had such a blast getting to know everyone. After that I walked into a job at a studio as a runner, and things seemed to be going pretty well. Then suddenly, it wasn’t going so well.
The job I was sold on wasn’t quite what it was made out to be. I felt like maybe the path I was on, wasn’t the one I wanted to be on. Like I was doing exactly what I did in Edmonton again. Listening to others instead of finding what’s right for me. In a spur of the moment decision, I quit the job to start trying to get into the film world as a locations PA. The only problem with that was the impending hiatus slowing things down to a crawl. I had a few solid days of work but after that it died out for the holidays. I knew things would pick up in January and I was doing okay financially so I wasn’t worried about taking a few weeks off to sort things out. But then that damn brain of mine started to go again.
Yes I had moved to Vancouver to make myself happier but truthfully, I was not happy once again. This time it was different. From feeling I was stuck to now feeling like I was skating on fresh ice in worn out shoes, desperately trying not to fall. When I left Edmonton, I clearly remember saying to people “I have no problem starting at the bottom again and working my way up to the top!” and I still believed that, but maybe big budget film was not the right route for me. I kept wanting to go back to it because I had been telling people from the age of 4 that I was going to work ‘in movies’. How would it look now for me to suddenly change my mind? But was that really who I was? Sure I love movies — but not all movies. I’m pretty picky about it in fact. Did I want to be working on projects I don’t really care about? Doing a job that requires very little effort other than being able to stand for 15 hours straight? So now my dear friends, I was in a full blown mid(-twenties) life crisis.
I abandoned a set-up life with perks and promise to come somewhere pretty to start from scratch with no real plan and a support system that consisted of a series of skype dates or phone calls. There was bound to be a time where things didn’t quite go as I had planned and now it was here. And what did I do? I let it get the best of me.
BUT NOT ANYMORE!
Tomorrow is my 27th birthday. Twenty Seven. Most people celebrate the start of a new year on January 1st, but for the last few years, I’ve been making promises to my future self on my birthday. It’s close enough to the start of the new year and it gives me a chance to reflect after all the hub-bub of the holidays. As the days were inching closer, I started thinking back on where I was at 21, 23, 25 and now 27.. I remember wanting to be a wife, a producer, a world traveler and failing at them all.
I used to look at this as a negative. Like I was a fuck-up who gave up too quickly or who’s big scary dreams had a way of scaring me away. That is of course, not the case. Yes, I have tried these things, and no, they didn’t work out the way I thought they might but you know what? I have also done all sorts of things I never thought I would do. I have met people from around the world who have changed my life and none of that would have been possible without a little bit of failure and the desire to double up and try again.
So why is it so scary this time? I think as I get older, I feel like I’m not measuring up. To my former classmates (High School, College and Uni) as well as other people my age, and the dreaded, “people younger than I am”. But again, this does not matter. They also have insecurities and doubts. They also have failures and dreams they let go of. We all do. It’s just a matter of letting go of the things you can’t control, working hard at the things you can, and trying to live your best life. And I think I can finally do that.
As I write this last paragraph on this last day of 26, I am so thankful for everything and everyone who has helped me on this journey so far. I am reaching out to those who will help me embark on these next chapters of my life, and I am grateful. I know that my doubts and insecurities are a part of me, but they are a part that helps me make sure I am always giving my best. Can’t complain about that. So now as I wander into 27, I remind myself that I am not perfect, that my dreams are achievable (even if they need a little adjusting now and then) and that I am going to do my very best — because I can. And if I fail, so what. There’s always 28 and 29 and 30 and so on.
Thanks for reading.
* Note Re: Zion : We made it to the park and drove the complete wrong direction because we didn’t realize you couldn’t drive through without a red pass. We drove through the same tunnel 2-3 times hahaha!!