Late last year I announced to family and friends that I’d decided to move to Los Angeles for a while. Understandably, the first question asked of me was “why” – and it wasn’t an easy one to answer. When people make big decisions like that, there’s usually a really solid reason: a new job, an opportunity too good to miss, or maybe even a whirlwind romance. For me it was none of those things, and I didn’t know how to answer the question. But I also knew that, once you are over the age of twelve, the answer “just because” doesn’t really cut it.
I thought long and hard about why I was so attracted to going. After all I was content in Melbourne, I have great friends there, my business ventures were going from strength to strength, and I had an agency and regular modelling clients that I’d worked hard to establish. True, LA has a huge market for a commercial model and a thriving natural health scene. But the truth of it, I realised after much consideration, was that I was craving something thrilling, something unknown. So when people asked me why I was going, I eventually found a very simple answer: adventure.
I packed my bags, sold my car and my furniture, and booked a ticket to sunny California – via Hawaii, of course. I’d lined up meetings with agencies, arranged to expand my tea range SUM T in the USA, and had leads on potential clients over in the US. I had a blueprint for exactly how my professional and personal lives were going to unfold in America. I was pumped, I was ready, and I was at the helm of my own destiny.
But fate decided to throw me a complete curve ball, as it does, and this control freak just didn’t know how to handle it. Offers crumbled, meetings didn’t go my way, and one by one the agencies that had approached me backed off, changed their minds, and stopped returning my calls. Doors were slamming shut all around me. Immediately I turned to my close friends for support, but they were thousands of kilometres away. Text messages and Skype calls only went so far to help. As soon as the ‘end-call’ sound chimed, I felt instantly alone. I didn’t get it; I’d arranged things carefully before I left, so how could this not be going my way?
I felt silly, I felt helpless, and I was totally embarrassed. Quite suddenly my thirst for adventure seemed like a naïve and childish impulse to have acted upon.
Change started happening for me when I finally learnt to relinquish control. That was the instant that my luck turned around. I loosened my grip on the steering wheel, and allowed myself to be guided by LA’s current. I enjoyed the city, I met great people, and I stopped wasting time with regret and fear. But that whole time, I also kept one eye on my goals.
Take one step towards your dreams, and they’ll take a step towards you, that’s what I’ve learnt so far in this crazy town. The challenge is accepting that unfortunately you don’t always get to choose how and from where that step comes. Opportunities showed themselves in ways I hadn’t expected, and you have to be ready to side-step, back-track, and take risks. For me, growth occurred along a path that I could only partly control, one that was unpredictable.
Am I grateful for my early failures? You bet. Because if everything had gone my way from the start, I’d have had left no room for the unexpected. And what’s an adventure without a few plot twists? I’ve now found a manager who represents not only my modelling work, but also shares my vision for a career in natural health. I have met some phenomenal humans who have quickly become dear friends. I connected with a group of people who helped realise my dreams of my first web-series, The Garden Pharmacist. I found a way to split my time between Australia and America.
And, perhaps most importantly, I grew to embrace the unexpected.
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