I am living my best life as we speak. I am living in a city I DREAMED of living in when I was 15 years old. Not many people get the chance to say that. But I do.
I would spend HOURS in my room, figuring out a way for me to get to LA, even if it were for just two weeks. I looked up flights, hotels, jobs for my parents, different neighborhoods within the city, studios, open calls - the whole nine yards. It all seemed like an impossible and distant dream that I would maybe, just maybe, one day, get to achieve.
And in 2017, that dream became my reality. It didn’t just happen though. I didn’t just leave it for fate to bring me here. I put in the work. I made the sacrifices and played a patience game of “is it my time yet”. And I’m so glad I did.
I moved to the states straight after my High School graduation to Washington, D.C in 2013, and it wasn’t the smooth transition I thought it would be (this story will come at another date). After a year full of challenges and set backs, I booked a plane ticket back to Australia, unsure of what I was going to do. What was meant to be a 2 month visit, turned into 9 months. I had nearly given up my LA dream because it all seemed too hard, too unrealistic, and unachievable.
Eight months into being back in Australia, I received an email saying I had been accepting into a University located in Chicago. I had never been, but I had a close family friend living there who said I would love the city, and I sure did. I ended up there for 18 months - I had found my friend group, I had falling in love, and believed I made a home for myself here. But something always seemed to be missing.
I was surrounded by people who were all focused on their career and were passionate about what they were studying - where I was just doing a degree to pass the time. After many tearful conversations, I decided to take a year off from college and spend the year focusing on what I knew my soul craved - acting. I started in Chicago doing different classes and workshops around the city, then decided, why not give New York a try. I was accepted into an intensive program out there for a month and fell in love with the city that never sleeps. When I wasn’t in class, I was seeing a different show on Broadway, or exploring a different part of the city, jogging through Central Park, or trying out a different restaurant.
Once this adventure was over, I craved more and more. I finally felt ready to take my visit to Los Angeles. I was accepted into a program out here, which what was meant to be a two month visit, which turned into four months, then finally, turned in my home.
I didn’t fall in love with L.A straight away. My transition wasn’t smooth (again), I didn’t vibe with the city and felt in over my head about what I was getting myself in to. But after a month, I could’t imagine me leaving, so I made the sacrifices required for me to stay. I broke up with my first love, I lived in someone else’s home until I could afford my own, I made new friends and started the journey to who I could be. None of it was easy to say the least, but was it all worth it? Yeah. It really was.
I’m not saying the hardships or sacrifices have stopped, I continue to face them every day. But I remind myself that little, young Irena would be SO proud of present Irena. And that to me, is more than enough.