Moving away from home or out of home can be daunting so I’ve decided to write about my own experiences moving across the Pacific to Los Angeles, hoping to spread ways in which us introverts or anxious-prone peoples can safely navigate the land of extroverts.
Nothing appealed to me more than moving to Los Angeles. As a young girl I remember wanting to work on big film sets within even bigger studios, all with the intent that I’d be pointing out directions to the cast and crew whilst scoffing my face with free donuts from the on-set catering. What can I say, I was young and clueless. As I grew up it was clear that time, effort, and determination would be required if I did ever hope to work on one of those Hollywood sets, even if it meant being the one behind the catering stand feeding donuts to whimsical actresses and eccentric directors.
Many years later, with a degree in film and television and a repertoire of production experience and unproduced screenplays, I finally decided to follow the pipe dream and move to that eclectic city full of artists, a-listers, and abs.
By the end of 2018, I felt ready to leave home. Being the over-the-top organiser that I am I planned for the worst and packed everything I needed in case of emergency – some of these items included a coaches' whistle which doubled as a rape whistle and a fully equipped first aid kit packed with enough water purifying tablets to last me a year (I had heard many stories about L.A.’s infamous drinking water). Once I had said goodbye to my family, Missy the dog, and my friends, and had created the obligatory ‘travelling the world’ Instagram post, and un-tagged myself from my mum's corny ‘goodbye daughter’ Facebook post, I was FINALLY on my way.
As the flight ascended from the tarmac an uneasiness overcame my body. Maybe it was indigestion from the McDonalds hotcakes I had for breakfast or the thought that within the next sixteen hours carpel tunnel would slowly envelop my joints and cause my body to deform into a crippling Hunchback that would forever haunt this United Airlines Boeing 777 flight, feeding off packets of mixed nuts and forgotten fruit cups. . . whatever the cause, it certainly triggered in me a sense of utter dread. What the hell am I doing!? I thought. I’ve never lived out of home, let alone moved halfway across the world. I jumped up from my seat, shoved the air hostess out of the way, and ran to the bathroom where I began to tear up. A tsunami of anxiety and fear flooded my mind. And it had to be at 35,000 feet above sea level – there was clearly no way of going back now.
Once the plane touched down at LAX, I was too jet-lagged to worry about my mental state. I had to focus on catching the shuttle bus which would take me to a month-to-month creative living house full of aspiring actors, musicians, writers, and filmmakers (where I’d end up staying for the next four months). There were about twenty-four people in the house, which isn’t as bad as it sounds. The house was surprisingly big and the guys stayed on one side and the girls on the other, sleeping within separate rooms that consisted of six bunk beds per room. There were also rules and specified cabinet and wardrobe spaces too so things were mostly kept civil. Oh, and the rent was cheap! Nonetheless, at first this living arrangement seemed like a nightmare for me, an introvert, however, joining this creative community actually helped me to get settled quicker and allowed me to make incredible friends in the process.
It was important for me to visualise moving out and away from home as a positive – an opportunity to start fresh and jump out of my comfort zone. Although I was anxious, once I made it to this new city I ultimately knew that this experience was bound to help me grow, and it did. It took a few months for me to find my feet but starting each day by reflecting on three things that I was grateful for helped me to focus on what was truly important. To see the bigger picture.
My experience living in a different country was nerve racking but necessary in moulding the person that I am today. Moving away from home taught me to be more patient, how to cope in stressful situations, it also gave me more confidence, and helped me to establish new friendships whilst ensuring existing friendships were still nurtured back home.