Loving, Loathing, & LEaving LA: Why I Needed it (But You Don't)
reaveal what i discovered
I could tell you all the ways it was great. I could take longer and tell you all the ways it was misery. pure misery. (I actually spent quite a bit of time typing that up - not worth sharing).
"How was Los Angeles?" I've been home 39 days and I already despise the question. Probably because I don't think it's the question people should be asking. Good, bad, tremendous or otherwise - it's superficial and doesn't really matter at this point. "What did you learn from LA?" That's something worth talking about.
I guess it's pertinent to tell you exactly why I moved to Los Angeles: I have no fuckin' clue. There wasn't a record deal, job, or even apartment (I found this out the hard way) waiting for me upon arrival.
BUT, I wasn't some aimless vagabond hoping to bump elbows with the right A&R rep and get shot off into superstardom. I went looking for something... I just couldn't quite formulate what it was in August of 2016.
Fortunately, this openness allowed me to construct my own idea of success from the experience. And for a long while, "success" was hard to come by.
I despised a lot about the situation; here begins the duality of suffering. It seemed as though everything I hated about LA was something I found myself equally thankful for. No friends or family? More time to focus on myself and define my vision. Depression? Fuel for writing the material I'm most proud of. No weekend plans? More time to work out and clock studio time.
It unknowingly became an 18 month period of self-reflection and discovery. Granted, I wish I could have just known. I wish I didn't have to endure depression and near poverty to come to the realization of who I was and what I believed (wouldn't you think understanding yourself to be a bit more inherent?).
I don't think you realize it until you're forced to recognize it as such. We externalize a lot of our world to distract ourselves from the chaos. We see ourselves in brands, music, art, and most prominently - in other people. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can become destructive when left unchecked.
I say this not to be tangential, but the comfort of home can deceive us from the underlying reality of who we are and what we need to fulfill a sustainable and fruitful existence.
I left Minnesota in an unsustainable cycle. Carelessly spending money, failing to develop interpersonally, and worst of all (in my mind) not creating meaningful, impactful art... all the while misattributing my shortcomings to no fault of my own.
None of it was privy to what I really wanted: the skill,
To all my dreamers, doers, and those otherwise hellbent on the big city.
You don't need Los Angeles. You need to find purpose. You need to find meaning. You need to find your fire.
Listen. You need to find your fire.
It doesn't come as an epiphany watching Netflix. It doesn't come as divine intervention hotboxing your buddy's Jeep. It won't reveal itself while drunk off your ass eating Domino's at 3 am (at least that strategy never yielded me much success).
Read about a topic your parent's discouraged. Travel not to get away, but to connect. Study a historical figure whom you despise. Address your shortcomings - you'll see less of them in others (and think higher of yourself and others in the process).
And if you try these things with no success - you have succeeded. Nothing is more prominent than unfounded purpose solely because it was not sought.
For me - that was Los Angeles. For you? I can't say.
But I do know one thing. Go after it. It won't come looking for you.
Anybody who leaves behind 70 degrees and sun in Los Angeles for -15 degrees and ice in Minneapolis must have a pretty damn good reason for doing so.
I lived in a 400 sq ft studio apartment in Silver Lake, a "hipster" neighborhood situated between downtown and Hollywood right off the 101.
it wasn't an easy decision. i didn't wake up one day with an epiphany that moving home was the answer to my problems.
it was an arduous proces and a difficult deisio. on one hand, LA was everything I wanted. people were open minded. i didnt feel a need to conform to somethign - becasue there was nothing to conform to. In a lot of ways i owe my creative process and desire to create timeless art to this place. it revealed that purity and honesty is fundamental in art. i wasnt lying in the work i had created before - but i also wasnt forthright in my message and purpose. It forced me to step outside my comfort zone to define these things for muyserlf and my work.
[so often we never have to - and this is why we can become so engrossed in the lives and stories of others. It's much easier to externalize our desires through other people
Okay so WHY did I leave this? Essentially everything I had come to know about purpose had manifested during my time in Los Angeles. Wouldn't it be sabotage to leave and risk possible regression through the comfort, security, and conformity of home?
Fortunately, purpose is something that doesn't leave once found. It's sort of like fundamental truth. whether you believe in it or not it's still true.
If anything I had come to discover that I needed Los Angeles much more than Los Angeles needed me.
To be honest I don't feel like gushing out the last 18 months of my life upon request. especially when most people are expecting a certain response - a response I can't deliver. Personal reasons. That's what I tell them.
They're looking for a Harry Potter defeats Voldemort triumph. We want to believe in fairy tales. We want to have faith the little guy CAN win.
this explains the disappointment I felt from others in my return. As I exuded excitement seeing my long lost support group - many people responded perplexed. I did not get "Welcome home!" so much as I did "Welcome home?"
this response made me disappointed... and decently alienated. Why are the people who were cheering
I was no longer just a friend or acquaintance
That's the not the truth. and maybe I'm even rationalizing to myself when I say that if it wasn't a fairy tale - it had at least catalyzed one.
Los Angeles is far from a fairy tale - but it might as well have catalyzed one. It doesn't involve true love. It doesn't involve dragon-slaying. Hell, it doesn't even involve 1000 instagram followers (the
LA showed me what it takes to be successful... in all the ways contrary to what you'd expect from such a pretentious locale.
I feel like we did that.
you know what's crazy? it almost seemed like a certain portion of my friends were disappointed I was home.
Let me elaborate (so it doesn't seem I have questionable judgment in friends). I received a lot of support moving to LA. I think in some ways the people who supported me most were living vicariously through me making that leap.
the success/failure of the xperience was no longer relegated to myself - i shared it with those who had dreamt jsut as big as i did but for whatever reason wouldnt do it themselves. M
That might be my greatest influence in writing this. If you
It's easy, understandable, and no one's going to chastise me for moving to be closer to family.
And I'm not lying when I say that. Removing yourself entirely from your support system without gravitating into a new one is emotionally traumatizing (this strain can also lead to tremendous personal breakthroughs - but that's another thought).
I like to believe I "got what I came for" in my move to LA. In some ways that could sound like I took it for all it's worth and dipped. In many ways - quite the opposite happened.
the longer i existed in a city with unlimited potential, the more i believed in my own. that meant i didnt have to suffer this check-to-check, dog-eat-dog culture i found myself. if anything
This approach contained benefits in its own right: lack of expectation, willingness to learn, openness to opportunity.