After living in Los Angeles for more than six months, I’ve come to a turning point. I relocated from New Jersey in February after spending most of my adult life on the east coast. I was constantly grappling with the fear of missing out on life in New York City with friends and family, but I’m now feeling at peace with my decision to take the leap.
I looked at the chance to relocate as a way of finally doing what I’ve always wanted to, instead of letting things happen to me. After feeling stagnant for several years in my news job and small living situation in Brooklyn, I knew I needed a change.
The idea of taking a chance on myself and failing scared me, but during one of my last sessions with my therapist, I talked about how anxious I was feeling. She told me, “Hey, you’ve always been able to adjust, you’ve always been a worker. Even if it doesn't work out, you’ll be fine.” I realized I was being too hard on myself. What I needed to do was stop overthinking.
Like with anything fresh and new, moving to a new state comes with challenges. I’ve had to remind myself of this during my first few months in Cali. Making friends was never impossible for me, but as you get older, circles get smaller, and that’s even more amplified when you move across the country by yourself.
In Brooklyn, I learned to sift through people and see through the “smoke and mirrors.” People will act like they like you but not like you at all. I saw that firsthand hanging out with a cliquish group of Brooklyn women. Being in their presence made me feel small and I vowed to never feel that way again.
I’ve reconnected with my New York tribe and friends I’ve known for at least nine years from college and high school. Being so far away from my immediate family, I craved that New-York energy, especially after encountering the disingenuous LA people you always hear about. Having people around me I can trust is non-negotiable. Having true support is crucial as I navigate a new work culture, role, and figure out what’s next in life and love. I define friendship as a listening ear, being available to grab a drink and even check out a cool art exhibit. It helps to take the edge off life’s demands at times and makes the hard work feel worth it.
One familiar thing about LA is how driving is a way of life, just like in New Jersey, where I grew up. Like many 16-year-olds, I couldn’t wait to get on the road. My mom even threw me a congrats-on-getting-your-license party, and I worked many holidays and long hours at Red Lobster to get my first car. However, no amount of experience could’ve prepared me for Los Angeles’ infamous freeways.
While living in New York, I relied on subways and Ubers so making this adjustment was a culture shock. I bought my first car in five years and although I’m proud of myself for how far I’ve come in getting back behind the wheel, experiencing a couple of close-call accidents is still terrifying. It’s made me more aware of my faith because in those moments I know my guardian angel was watching over me.
This move also has me looking back at moments from my life a lot. A manager at one of my first post-college jobs once asked me, “Are you sure you can do this?” I remember being taken aback by her words but being determined to prove to myself that I could do it. I’m glad I didn’t let anyone else’s lack of faith in me hold me back. It’s the same spirit that’s led me to mentor aspiring journalists and young women. I want them to know they can do anything and be who they choose to be.
At 32, I’ve learned to embrace life’s ebbs and flows. I could’ve stayed in New York City where I felt comfortable, but something greater happened when I blocked out the background noise and just let go. Today, this person I look at in the mirror is proactive, resilient, family-oriented, a world-traveler and stands up for herself. As I gracefully grow into my 30s, there’s something that feels amazing about who I’m becoming.
My 16-year-old-self would be proud of the woman I am now.
Kayla Clough is a digital video manager/producer who specializes in news and entertainment. Her work has been featured at Entertainment Tonight, New York Post, CBS News and the Global Citizen Festival. Based in Los Angeles, she’s passionate about giving back to the community and empowering young women. You can follow her on Twitter.