Somewhere between getting evicted and becoming involved in a verbally abusive relationship, there I was. Crouching in my Saturday nights dress, on the floor of my apartment after a 5.0 earthquake in Los Angeles. The ground had just finished shaking my eighth-story apartment floor and I was left nauseated and frozen in fear. As the aftershocks rolled past, I could feel that it wasn’t just a physical shaking that was making me sick. I felt like my world was shaking driving me to tears. I was in a downward spiral of emotions, unpaid rent and self loathing. Eventually I got up, found healthy relationships, and put my 20’s in the past but not before some hard learned lessons and self awareness.
You see, you don’t realize what your 20’s taught you until you’re in your 30’s. Same can be said after each new decade resembling a mark, like a latch on a belt. And now, in my mid-30’s, I see the pattern I was following like a trail of breadcrumbs. Although my 20’s taught me to be resilient, tougher than nails and not to mention in the best physical shape I had ever been in my entire life, (thank you Go-Go dancing) the inside of me was flabby, tired and under worked. To me success in my 20’s was determined by my skills and what I could offer others. I was hell-bent on being successful but I had no idea that meant building up my character or working on the my mental health. It was surely dependent on whether I took this audition or responded quickly to a gig on craigslist. These were my choices. And somehow living on the fly was enough for me and my furniture-less apartment. I literally couldn’t see past 25.
“I look back on my 20’s. It’s supposed to be the prime of your life, the most vital, the most beautiful. But you’re making your critical decisions and sometimes your most critical mistakes.”
But what I failed to realize is every time I moved up in one of my many areas of talent, I would dwell in that tiny success for far too long. At what felt like the top, was me, determined to stay there. It was my sour attitude that convinced me that this plateau would suffice if not forever.
If I didn’t feel the best in my field, I would quickly remove myself. I would plant my feet in a new group of people who had no knowledge of my prior success and embellish my stories of lavish victories (or rather mediocrity because these accomplishments were far too easy.) For a while this made me feel good. Always pretending to be the star while feeling unsuccessful and empty on the inside. Instead of learning from those ahead of me, I wanted to be the best in my circle and quickly! Once I saw greater challenge ahead, it was easier to step down with a lame excuse and bow out before the going got rough.. I was always willing to relinquish my dreams to others who would inevitably place me in their personal path toward success.. Leaving me like a pawn in a game that someone else was playing.
“If you don’t make time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a LOT of time dealing with a life you DON’T want.”
– Kevin Ngo
Because this behavior was part circumstantial and part personality, I applied this to all aspects of my life. From relationships to jobs to my education. When it came time to buckle down, I ghosted everyone. When it came time to break up with the bad boyfriend, I stayed and made another excuse. Allowing myself to be the victim gave everyone else the power. What I didn’t know was that you have to own your hypocrisy. Or else, it will own you.
“At 27, I can talk to my parents and see that while they’ve done a lot of amazing things with their lives, there are still doubts and insecurities that they’re holding on to and trying to make sense of. Answers don’t come with age. Age provides perspective, but life wasn’t designed with a point at which it definitively gets easier.”
The aforementioned story isn’t intended for sympathy, but an example of poor choices and the lack of motivation hidden behind a pretty dress in a fancy Hollywood apartment. The lesson of being more motivated by the possibility of success, rather than the fear of failure, is a hard one. It’s one that’s told to us over and over again but cannot be applied unless the subject is willing. Now, in my 30s, I am willing to learn from those ahead of me. Their success, is my success. Because if they are able to achieve their dreams who’s to say that I am not. My first lesson that my twenties tought me, was to be teachable and humbly look to others success with the same encouragement and excitement that they would have for me. This comes after many books, healthy lifestyle changes and challenges. But they say self-awareness is the first step in moving in the right direction. So, I will end with this, if you fail to push yourself past your challenges, you forfeit your choices and allow people to place you in to their personal path of success. You will inevitably become part of a story, but not your own… As for myself, I want to be the author, writer and star in my life. I hope you do too. Let me know if you like this sort of lifestyle post because I’m already writing part 2!