Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Thing About LA

I have to say, I think moving to LA in your early 20s is probably one of the most invigorating, terrifying, daunting, anxiety-provoking, and absolutely incredible things you can do for yourself. Maybe it’s the same in every new city. I’m just happy I came here.

There’s something to the pulse of this city that fills you with a creative energy that shocks you and drives you. Maybe I’m just blessed to be around such beautiful, creative and self-assured people, but I think the city brings it out in all of us. There’s a reason that music and film and yoga thrive here. Los Angeles allows you a freedom to just exist that I never had in Seattle. Seattle is a city of goals and purpose, and that’s awesome, but it’s not what I need right now.

In my journey into exploring mindfulness, I don’t think I could have chosen a better place to relocate. Okay, a large part of it is the amazing people I have around me, but I still partially attribute that to the city. Here you’re allowed to throw yourself fully and completely into a hiking routine that may or may include yoga, and no one looks at you weird if you apologize for being late because you are at a meditation class. And when I expressed to a couple of my friends that I thought I might want to train in energy healing, their only question was can you be my personal healer when I’m a stressed out actor? I feel at liberty to try and fail at as many things as I need too, because it almost feels like that’s what everyone is doing. Everyone I see is an artist and knows you have to fail more times that you succeed.

Here’s to moving to my favorite part of the city in a couple of months and the growth and peace that that brings. Let it allow me to settle in mindfulness practice and a yoga routine, and help jumpstart me on the next little journey into what the city has in store for me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Hardest Part

       The best advice I've ever gotten from my friends and family is just to do what makes me happy. I know that is so ridiculously cliche, but honestly, it's the best thing you can do for yourself. I'm sure I'm not alone in this, but I happen to be one of those people who feels like a living, breathing conundrum. I know what makes me happy, but I also get unreasonably stressed about what I think I SHOULD be doing; what the "correct" steps are to get to my ultimate goal (like I even really know what that is yet...). Side note: is that the right use of a semi-colon? Rosi, help me out here. I love semi-colons, and I try to use them correctly, but it is somewhat difficult for my little brain. ANYWAY, conundrums. I get in this weird headspace whenever I'm going through a transition in my life, where a giant battle happens inside me between what really makes me happy and what I think I should be doing, OR what other people think I should be doing. 

If you want to get sociological about it, as I did in my Soc 101 class at Oxy, the reason I get so worked up and anxious about doing what makes me happy is because I tend to pick the path that it feels like no one else is walking. Humans are hard-wired to be "happiest" (or at least feel most comfortable) when they are in line with whatever their culture, community, what have you, is doing. If you really want to get into it, there is a documentary that I have a very intense love for, called Flight From Death: The Quest for Immortality which discuses the ideas of cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker. Its main premise is that the driving force behind pretty much all human thought and action is a subconscious fear of death. I won't get too into it, but if you want to know more I sincerely recommend the movie. I know the filmmakers, and it's superbly well done. My point is, your belief system is validated by your culture, religion, location, friend group, whatever. When your belief system and actions are validated, you feel safe, invincible, because even when you're gone, those beliefs and values will persevere via your collective.
You can argue that is absolutely great, and many do. I definitely, definitely see the good aspects of this. Our communities give us collective conscience and produce amazing energy, thoughts and actions (i.e. the nerdfighter community, YouTube, Tumblr, etc), BUT there are things to be said for allowing yourself to feel comfortable outside of the collective. It is absolutely terrifying but if you can manage it, it can be extremely rewarding. 

And that's what I mean about always trying to do what makes YOU happy. Going with what your culture expects can compromise entrepreneurship, creativity, and your own feeling of self-worth or self-esteem. 
In that same vein, I have been dealing with this quite a bit on my own journey through my early twenties, my schooling, and trying to find work that makes me feel good and like I'm contributing something. 
Since I left the college I started at straight out of high school, if I wasn't busy doing something I felt this immense weight and a constant distress underlying everything. The weird part was no one was really putting direct expectations on me. My parents are extremely supportive in everything I do and have always been the people to tell me that I need to do what makes me happy, and exploring and messing up is okay. I'm so grateful for that, which is why it felt weird that I was still so anxious about leaving school. When I was traveling I felt good because I value travel very highly, and I think the benefits of experiencing new cultures and places are irreplaceable, but anytime I was sitting still the anxiety washed over me. 
Then I decided I wanted to be in LA, and I decided I wanted to pursue some sort of animal science of vet-tech degree. This was great -- for a while. Moving down to LA was an amazing decision, and I don't regret it for an instant, but when I couldn't get into ANY vet-tech classes at a community college down here, I felt so lost. I was in a new city, living close to the school I was supposed to go to, which is on the opposite side of the city from all my friends and my boyfriend, and I didn't have a job or any classes. Goodbye, self-esteem. After freaking out for a good month, I did a lot of self-exploration as well as researching schooling and work options that I thought I would enjoy. I finally realized that what was stressing me out the most was that I had picked this direction (animal stuff) way too quickly, and although I love working with animals, and would do it gladly, I felt like I was restricting myself so much. I had decided I just wanted to do animal things, and my bachelor degree wasn't worth it anymore, and all this stuff. It was at that point, I realized my best option was to just do all my general education credits at community college and eventually transfer to a University and just get a degree is something I like. The weight that this took off of my shoulders was pretty shocking. I realized that I had felt the need to decide my career path and major and life plan and all of that, not because that was making me happy but because I felt like I NEEDED to. 
I had always assumed myself to be the type of person who needed a specific structure and a path outlined for me, but when I decided to let go of that and just let life happen and let school happen and figure it out as I'm going along, I was (and am) so much happier. It's scary not to be following the path that everyone expects, but it is making me a much more self-assured and creative person, and I couldn't be happier about it.

I don't know if I really have a clear conclusion here, and I'm sorry it's so long, but I think it's an exceptionally important subject to think about.

Have any of you ever had breakthroughs like this? Have there been times when you've felt really isolated because you decided to go a different direction that the people in your culture or community? Let me know, I'm curious about your stories :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Starting Over (A Project)

Be prepared for a freakin’ essay. I’m sorry.
For a long, long time I’ve been fascinated with the idea that our mental states, and the moods and attitudes that we project on the world around us influence the material world and the moods and attitudes of those around us. This may have been largely triggered by my honors English class’s study of Transcendentalism in 11th grade. There is a lot of Transcendentalism that goes beyond the ideas that I’m trying to work with right now, but one of its founding notions is that God is present and immanent in everything and everyone. In combating the wave of rationalism and Calvinism’s manifest destiny that was popular at the time, transcendentalists believed that religion and philosophy should be derived from people’s inner spirituality and consciousness. I’m not religious and never really have been, but I do believe that all humans and nature are spiritually connected. Whether or not you want to refer to that as God is up to you, but I would definitely consider it some sort of higher power. Within this belief that we are all connected to the world around us is the assumption then, that as our consciousness shifts, the world around us (even minutely) does the same. For instance, if you are consistently putting out bad energy to your friends, family co-workers, you’re going to be receiving that much more bad energy.
This philosophy that I adopted was solidified when someone explained the premise of the movie What the #$%^& Do We Know to me. This movie looks at Quantum Physics and how in science they are discovering that our consciousness actually affects MATTER. Physical, actual, real matter. You know how no matter is created or destroyed? Someone once told me to imagine it like a big infinity symbol. If your consciousness is negative, it’s effecting matter in a negative way. Boom, that enters the infinity symbol, cycling forever through the world until there’s enough positive energy to counter-balance it. For some reason whenever I felt like I was being a bad person, this metaphor drove me to start thinking more positively. It’s kind of magical.
My point here (I have a point, what??) is that thinking and acting positively as much as you possibly can, in every aspect of your life, can change the world.
Now onto what I was actually getting to:
Becoming friends with Kristina at the beginning of the last year of Five Awesome Girls was very interesting for our friendship and just as something for me to observe. I guess I could say this about coming into the Harry Potter fandom, and the world of YouTube, and Tumblr, and cons as well, but for now I’m going to focus on 5AG. In my young adulthood I have really tried to be someone who can be present in the moment constantly, and who does not focus on overthinking the future or past. It can be really, really, really hard sometimes. Maybe I met Kristina just at the right or time or maybe I was already getting there myself, but the message of Five Awesome Girls really hit home. The idea of just being able to put your emotions, worries, whatever aside, and to just be able to publically tell a bunch of people why you had an awesome day is brilliant. So simple, so easy, and so brilliant. I don’t know why, but until I found 5AG, the thought of keeping a journal or blog where my only obligation was to just write down one awesome thing from that day, had never occurred to me. It kind of blew my mind. But anyway, as 5AG drew to a close, I got surprisingly emotional. Not only because IT was ending, but because I felt like everyone had a little less motivation to think about something awesome in their day, every day. So long after they stopped making videos for the channel, the thought of somehow continuing that idea elsewhere has been hounding me.
If any of follow the stunning and lovely Rosianna on the YouTubez or the Twitterz, you probably know that she’s participating in this amazing project from Channel 4 called New Years Revolution. There are three different types and she’s doing the Try Something New challenge, but the whole thing is awesome. I don’t often keep up with daily vlogs, but I haven’t been able to stay away from Rosi’s videos because they make me so happy. Part of this is her incredible eloquence and insight that I could only ever dream of achieving, but these challenges definitely keep bringing me back. Every day the participant has to try something new or do something out of their comfort zone, and (well, in Rosi’s case because she’s making videos about it) reflect on the challenge. I’m just bringing this up because this is just another thing we can do to surround ourselves with positivity. Challenging yourself to try new things sounds scary, but if you look for what was interesting and fun, or what you learned, it will always be a positive experience. Rosi’s videos have reminded me that even though it’s seems comforting to stick to your routine; it creates more positivity to put yourself out there and try new things. This blog, for instance, is me putting myself out there and trying something new. I feel like I can express myself in writing better than most other media forms, but it’s still kind of terrifying putting yourself out there.
Last, but certainly not least, Kayley’s video about being kind was the icing on the cake for me finally spewing out this novel of a blog post. If you’re a Nerdfigher, take a moment to think about how lucky we are to be a part of a community where being kind to one another is so highly valued. A lot of communities don’t get that luxury. Being polite, saying please, thank you and sorry, opening doors for people or refraining from being rude if someone does something to annoy you can honestly turn your day around. Kayley was mostly focusing on kindness to strangers, and going out of your way to do nice things for people on a daily basis, which is of course extremely important, but it reminded me that there’s another place where people need to be really conscious of this. Nerdfighters are amazing, generous people, but I have seen people in this community be horrible to each other on the internet just the same. It’s hard because you’re not face-to-face with the people you’re arguing with, or whatever, but considering how big a part of our lives the internet has become, being kind here is just as important as being kind outside your house. So as she said, let’s all take a little extra time to go out of our way to be better people. Even if that just means trying to smile at people every day.
Basically my point is, we could all use a little more positivity in our day, and it feels good to be the one putting it out there. So I want to get back into this for real (I say that every time). I doubt I'll post every day, but I really will try to post as much as I can. Little nuggets of happy things.
If you read this whole thing, I commend you.

I would especially like to thank Kristina, Rosi and Kayley for giving me the ideas and motivation behind what I want this blog to be.