02 Sep Love, Loss and the Price of a Dream
“She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”
When you find your passion in life at a young age, you bear the burden of seeing it through. There are no other options because the ghost of “what if” will haunt you wherever you go. On the other hand, if you want to follow the order of career, marriage, children then you also carry the added stress of making that career happen in record time on a path that may have no clear trajectory.
For most of my life, I knew I wanted to work in entertainment. I was always the one to bring smiles to my family and friends’ faces while we were together, and knowing I could do that for a living through storytelling seemed like the perfect fit.
Life took me from New York City to Los Angeles to follow my goal of becoming the showrunner of a show that I star on, but many things kept bringing me back to the east coast: baby showers, weddings, childbirth, and death. With only a year and a half under my belt in California, I lost two very dear people: my aunt and my grandma.
The good times in California are abundant, the avocados are always perfect, and I landed a dream job of being a showrunner’s assistant. I knew that it would be the start of wonderful things for me, but that moment of unavoidable unemployment is a dark cloud covering the sun for days on end.
Since moving to Los Angeles, there were many moments of extreme low points where it seemed I was being tested— would I stay and thrive here, or would I find myself packing it in and heading back east? This last week held me to the mirror of my reality, and I don’t know where to turn.
I was in a terrible car accident in November. I am still going to physical therapy for it. My dream car was totalled, and my contract for my dream job was ending in a month.
My best friend had a beautiful baby girl at the end of December, and my sister had a handsome little man in February. My grandmother passed away, and I felt the emotional roller coaster of joy for these beautiful cherubs, gratitude for my incredible grandmother, and aching sorrow over missing her physical presence.
For the first time, I found myself breaking down to my little sister about the struggle of the life I chose to live. I am, at times to a fault, ever optimistic. I think if I wasn’t so, I would not survive the artistic journey; however, that also means that those who truly love me the most don’t realize what I am going through or how low the valleys go.
A couple of days later, I found myself breaking down to three of my cousins. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and everyone who loves me knows it, but I rarely let others see my hardships. My cousins all comforted me with their words and empathetic looks. My cross to carry felt like theirs for a moment because that’s what family does for each other. One of my cousins then offered to put my name in where he works. It’s a path I actually studied for in college, but I intended it as a “backup plan.” My impulse was to let him help me. It’s not an easy thing for me to do, but the more I do it, the more I realize it is completely ok and the stronger I actually feel.
Days after that, I was sharing these feelings with my best friend over lunch, shedding tears as a kind server tries to check in with us, but certainly feels uncomfortable interrupting my moment. My dear friend suggested that I really dive deep into what brings me the most joy. Also, she gently encouraged me to face the fact that I was hit with a lot of significant life events at once, and I need time to sort through those emotions.
I mentioned the struggle of it all, and my best friend made a beautiful statement: for a decade, I sacrificed nights and weekends with friends and families to serve tables so I could go after my dreams. I moved across the country and sacrificed, yet again, time with friends and family to chase my dreams, and now, I am questioning whether this is really the only way to achieve the success I desire.
I do not, at this point, view myself as successful. I have a work ethic like no other, and I do not say that modestly. I will find a way to be good at any task because that is my name on the line. I see my annual earnings and think of how all three of my siblings made more than me at my age, how they can financially support my family in ways I dream of, and I feel… inadequate. They do not, by any means, make me feel this way. It is a pride within myself– a stubbornness to see the value I bring.
As I head back to Los Angeles, a place I do truly love living in, it will be time to reevaluate my current circumstance. My small group within my church is discussing dreams, and how God opens doors to what He calls you to do. I feel so strongly called to be a writer, but I will continue to light candles and pray that I receive clarity.
All of the fancy cars, beaded gowns and six pack abs in Santa Monica are nothing if my family feels that far out of reach, if I don’t see my nieces and nephews grow up and if I keep beating myself up for not being “further ahead in my career.” It’s time to dive deep, look outside the box and learn where I will find the most joy and balance. I love helping others on their career path and someone just said, “You empower me.” And so it’s time to empower myself with all of the things I tell others they deserve. I got this.
In loving memory of Mary Suchan.