On May 31st was my first LA anniversary. Yup, it’s been one full year since I stepped on the plane in Amsterdam and left my old life behind. It was little different than I thought it would be, since May was possibly the worst month of my LA life so far. In the span of just one month I got into a pretty bad accident with my one month old motorcycle, had to deal with the financially and emotionally draining aftermath, got hit by a car on my bicycle, slipped with my new motorcycle and both my phone and laptop died. But what matters is that my LAnniversary made me think of all the people that come here, and then leave within one or two years. And the people that come here, and stay. For years and years, sometimes without ever “making it.” It made me wonder which of these people I would belong to…
Life is a crazy thing. When you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone and live without a solid routine you especially often find yourself stopping in the middle of street, or lying awake at night, thinking: “What the hell am I doing? What’s it all about?” Now don’t worry, I won’t try to tackle the meaning of life. This is a Hollywood blog, I must remain shallow! Or maybe I will… As it pertains to acting and artists and LA anyway.
I mean, what are we all doing here? Miles, states, countries, even continents away from our hometowns, just to get a chance to participate in the Olympics of the film industry. Working one, two, or more unfulfilling side jobs, for that very occasional paying acting job. Living paycheck to paycheck – some of us barely enjoying the basics of a modal modern life – for an off chance of success.
But why do we want success? I think because we believe success will make us happy. Does it though? The amount of famous addicted actors and other artists would imply otherwise. What is success, really? When do you call yourself successful? I can imagine that even when you do start working regularly as an actor, you won’t suddenly be happy. You might start comparing yourself to others that are even better off: Actors that get better roles, that film in tropical locations, that get more salary… And I can imagine you’re still always going to be worried in between jobs. And that the pressure only intensifies because of your earlier success.
On top of that I don’t think just career success can provide happiness. I’ve written about this before, I think people need and want more than that. What good is success if you have nobody to share it with?
I recently read an article about scientific research into happiness. It mentioned that on average, people’s happiness comes from things like living close to their family, hanging out with good friends, and doing meaningful jobs. Meaningful not necessarily meaning saving the world, but feeling like your efforts count, like you’re contributing to a process.
And then I thought of LA, full of people that come all by themselves, far away from family, often struggling to find real friends, spending most their time doing non-meaningful side jobs. Suddenly I admired people who make the choice to leave within a year or two, instead of judging them like I previously did. In the end we all just want to be happy, and if you can’t find that here, how long should you stay at it?
How long should I stay at it? Which group of LA actors do I belong to? My bet is on the group that stays. Because while I do absolutely need my family and friends, my happiness for a huge part comes from being able to create. Whether through writing or acting. That’s my meaningful activity. I need it, I really do. The months when I was producing and shooting my short film were some of the happiest of my life. Even back in Amsterdam when my life had turned into a mess, all was right with the world as soon as I got on set.
But I won’t forget that I’m here because I want to be happy. And if ever a time comes that I can’t find that anymore despite really trying, I will need to change things up. Whatever that might entail.
Secretly though, I know everything will be alright. Here in LA. Despite my struggles I feel at home here. My time may not have come yet, but when it does, it will be grand. Grand, I say!