Saturday, January 5, 2019

How I Stopped Rejecting Myself and Other Reasons I'm Moving to California

I'll just come right out with it. No sense beating around the bush: I'm moving to the LA area. Like, not theoretically...not potentially...actually. I'm aiming for a year away. I'm set on it.

I'll let you have a minute to digest. Take your time.



Look, this isn't really too much of a shock to anyone who has truly known me forever, is it? When you think about it, it's just about right. If you really think about it, it was only a matter of time before I stopped running from it.

The decision started with a very specific ache for warm, sunny and dry change. Should I move to the desert? Arizona? New Mexico? No. That wasn't right.

..... Southern California? 

"*Snort* Aaw HELL no. Why would I go there? I would never go there.....Because principal. Right? ..... Hello?....Right?"

Uh oh. It was officially time that stubborn, scared, less self-aware Jen met current Jen in possession of half a clue. Literally instantly, I knew damned well why I'd go there. It just took some gentle nudging from my wonderful therapist to admit the reasons I had always had such a strong negative reaction to the whole idea of LA. Because damn it, I was going to reject them before they could reject me. Er, maybe I was just rejecting myself preemptively. Aaah, foolish pride.

Ever since I was little, I've had massive dreams involving the expressive arts. I mean writing and performing, singing, acting. All of it. Using all my gifts. The writing part was safe, and I accomplished some things as an author, but not as a screenwriter, and the performing part, well...I learned at a tender age, from those closest and most influential to my life, that such things weren't really meant for women like me. As a fat girl, my world and the players in it made no secret that I was broken and undesirable. So, for the first thirty eight years of my life, I took those lessons to heart and I lived them in the shadows. I didn't want to inconvenience those people by being seen, but it was time to lead by example.

Things change. Especially in the last five years.

As life would have it, time, pain and losses had basically decimated my protective encasements and ripped me open, forcing me to start again from a place that is far more aware and powerful. I'd been soundly rejected, betrayed and jerked around in the most intimate and painful ways already. I had major callouses now that I didn't have when I was younger. As I began rebuilding, I found that I had become a stronger, more self-reflective person who put her own happiness and needs first, who stood up for herself, drew lines, and flipped lies and poison the bird. In other words, I wasn't having anybody's bullshit, and if a person or belief was harmful and destructive, they could take up space in someone else's life. I wanted to love me in earnest, to figure out what that meant and who I was now. It was time to sweep away all the rubble piled on top of the pure, talented and hopeful girl that I'd been as a child, and, armed with a tougher set of defenses and mounting sense of self worth, I began the process of figuring out what the hell made me happy. Cuz, honest to God, as crazy as it sounds, I'd really forgotten how happy felt. I'd lost a feel for my own joy under  the silently running programs the world's shit had set in motion. In truth, I'd given up hope for what I wanted before I'd ever begun, in the moment I came to believe that my dreams were for someone else---maybe someone less talented, but also less heavy. 

I have a lot I need to do. All I've ever wanted was a creative arts career. These were the vocations that inspired and excited me. I wanted to express and create art, to inspire and uplift and give hope. I wanted to do it all in a major way. But I wasn't toughened up and open enough when I was younger. Now, in today's world, I want to show up for women who, like me, NEED to be seen, which means I'll have to brave to be seen myself...for them AND myself. I guess I'm glad for anything that has forced me to fight and fight and fight, to grow a thicker skin, to find my inner warrior and voice and roar with it. I'm going to need the strength they yielded. 

It often takes hope to give it. Blessedly, although fat phobia is alive and vicious in 2019, women of larger sizes are finally starting to be seen and respected in the performance industry. These heroes, women like Chrissy Metz, Aidy Bryant, Melissa McCarthy, and Keala Settle to name a few, all of whom I adore for what they've accomplished, have done for me what I needed most. They incited hope and inspired me again at just the right time--when I was reaching the end of a trial by fire reformation. And I needed that like air. They gave me permission to fight for my life, my dreams and my right to be seen and heard, at this age, now, and not just in a small way. My right to be happy and fulfill a purpose still exists. I'd rather be trying for something that I REALLY want, not just a million other substitutes that have never quenched my desires for this. You can only fight against your truth for so long. 

When I finally opened that fearful, dusty room where I'd stuffed my dreams and looked them in the eye, I knew that lots of people would think I'm crazy. They'd think I was having a midlife crisis or a breakdown or something. I mean, the audacity, right? Who am I to believe that someone like me could (insert any number of things here)? I knew folks would have their opinions. I thought and prayed a lot, and then I decided I didn't give a flying shit because I was the one who had to live in my life, not them. As Will Smith said in The Pursuit of Happiness, "You got a dream, you gotta protect it. When people can't do something themselves, they're gonna tell you that you can't do it. You want something, go get it. Period."

For the first time in maybe ever, I felt more than just excitement -- I felt relief to finally end my battle against my own self. And I'm okay with the threat of ridicule and rejection because I'm supposed to do this. I have to try. And try. And try. Forever, if necessary. But I don't HAVE forever, do I? So I need to get on this.

I made up my mind, talked to God, my sister and my therapist, my best friends, and my inner demons of fear and self doubt. And I came up with a plan to prepare for a year (sooner if possible) and move to LA to pursue a career in show business.

In my late thirties. As a fat woman. 

And no, I'm not popping Tide Pods, in case the thought crossed your mind. 

I've watched other people settle down, get married, have kids over the years. I wondered why it all seemed so much easier for them, why it fell into place for them while I struggled to feel settled or accomplish any of those things. I wondered why the few relationships I'd wanted to work never did, and it came to me that, if they had, I would never have decided to do this. If I'd been attached to the obligations of a relationship and children, I'd have given it all to them, and those dreams I had yet to coax from hibernation would have probably remained there forever. It would have been exactly the thing to justify ignoring my scariest, most terrifying calling. The one thing I've always wanted to do more than anything else just happens to be the most intimidating possible set of actions I can fathom for someone like me. Yet I find myself here, and ready to move forward with this cockamamie plan that, according to common sense, ought to crash and burn majestically in a cloud of impossibility. 

...Doin' it anyway.

I'm moving to California.This feels a lot like when I decided to move to Seattle. Like it's past time.

I don't have a clue what I'm doing with all this showbiz stuff (or even this LA area stuff), so if anybody in SoCal wants to offer a network of love and friendship and moral support, I wouldn't argue. I have a lot of research to do. All I know is that I'll field shitloads of rejection and likely be laughed out of a lot of offices, and even that idea gives me a certain amount of happiness. I'll take that to waiting in numbness to die. I'm resurrecting my soul. Those vain bastards who don't want to see someone like me doing something like this can go stick their heads back up their asses. :) Problem solved. As for the rest of you, I love you guys, and thanks for the support!

"What are you gonna do with the time you have left? I say, if you don't reposition yourself, you could miss the best time of your life, in this season of life." - TD Jakes 

I'll leave you with video of a stunning performance of "This is Me" from The Greatest Showman sung by the mind-blowing Keala Settle. This sums it up nicely. I dare you not to cry through this one:


Sabrina said...

Be braver than you thought you could be. You've made a bold, scary, spectacular decision and you're gonna find out what YOU are made of. You're gonna find that you are AMAZING! But those of us who love you, already knew that. We're OK sharing you with the world...for now ❤️

Linda said...

I am SO very proud of you!! I say this as I cry big crocodile tears because I am so inspired by you. LA has no idea what is coming its way. Blow them out of the water Jen! You know it is in you.

Jen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen said...

Okay now I'm crying. You have a lot of faith in me. I just hope I can hold as much faith in myself. Nose to the grindstone and full speed ahead. Much much love to you.

Jen said...

Sabrina, I just now saw your comment. Honestly, you can't imagine how much it means to me to have friendship and support this way. I love you. I have no clue what the hell I'm getting myself into, LOL, but I hope inevitably I do my fellow women proud.