I’ve been a non-student for a year…

It took me awhile to figure out how to word the title of this post. I guess it’s still unbelievable to me. This weekend marks the final weekend of the BUinLA program, meaning that a year ago today, I was done with college classes and essentially out of school. I didn’t officially graduate until January 25th, so I guess I really have a little over a month, but I know that month will go by before I know it.

It’s been an interesting year. Last December, I knew I wanted to move back out to Los Angeles, but I was unsure of when. It took me about a month to decide, and then another two weeks to plan the week-long, cross-country trip my father and I took at the end of January. The week’s worth of driving and traveling was a good cushion for me to reflect on the huge life move I was making. Once I got to LA, the Friday night before Superbowl Sunday, it hit me – I’m in Los Angeles, I’m here to get started on the rest of my life. College is over, welcome to the Real World, Josh.

That weekend, things happened quickly. I was staying with my friend Rob on his couch, and as comfortable that situation was, I was really eager to find my own place, so I could settle into this new environment as quickly as possible. I went looking for apartments on craigslist and after viewing the second place I looked at on Sunday afternoon, I took it. I’m still in that place now, despite thinking I may move on a couple occasions throughout the year.

Obviously at this point I’ve settled into the living arrangements, and my general life schedule. I’ve been working the same internship for about seven months now, on and off depending on what other project I’ve been involved with. Despite not having a full-time, or even part-time job, the internship has helped give me experience, a regular weekly schedule and kept me busy three days a week. My off days normally consist of heavy job searching in the morning, a couple hour break in the afternoon at the gym, and the rest of the day working on whatever editing project I’m involved with.

The editing projects, most of which have been visual effects work with After Effects, have also kept me busy and given me great experience in post-production. While the work is also on an unpaid/deferred basis, I don’t mind because I need the practice and eventual footage for a reel.

The production work I did, while not very regular (I’d work as a PA about once every couple months, on average) was also valuable in the fact that I got experience, met some great people, and was able to learn all about things that you just can’t learn in school.

Sure, it’s a bit disappointing and discouraging when most of my friends out here have more substantial jobs than I do, but I made choices about what kind of work I would look for early on and stuck with them throughout the year. I could have gone a different route and probably got a more regular job, but it would have been at something I wasn’t as interested in doing. In that same sentiment, I could have stayed in Boston, lived at home, not be paying rent and working a job that I was even less interested in doing. To me, the whole point of moving out here was to pursue a dream of working in entertainment as a writer (now I’ve revised that goal to include being an editor). Obviously there isn’t one path to get to a goal, especially not in this industry, but a personal goal was to remain happy with what I was doing, and to be honest there are some jobs and paths that I could not see myself being happy in doing, even if I was happy to be getting a regular paycheck at each week’s end.

There’s a balance I do have to address, in that I can’t live off savings forever, and eventually will need some form of income. That may very well end up being a part-time job of some sort, but as long as I can keep writing and editing in my spare time, and as long as I keep pushing toward that career goal and don’t get sidetracked or distracted by other things, I can stay out here and keep at it.

I’m nervous but excited for the “1 year in LA out of school” mark. There are things I’ll have to deal with – do I risk driving around with an expired Massachusetts inspection sticker just to keep my Mass plates and Mass ID, or do I go through the process of registering as a California resident? Up until now, despite living in the state for almost a year, I still don’t consider myself a resident. That may change if my car and my license say I am.

There are also things I’m excited to try out – a few friends and I may begin to take Improv classes, something I have only really done on a very small scale – a class at camp, joking around with friends, etc. I figure as a comedy writer I should flex or at least train my comedy muscles in as many areas of the genre as I can. I even started writing a standup act (although have no real plans to perform just yet).

I’m also writing music again, and with the great decision to bring my electric guitar back to LA with me, there’s more potential to jump back into that arena. Why not? I’ve always considered music to be just a hobby, despite how talented people have said I am, and how much I enjoy it. But why? I’m out in Los Angeles now, pursuing a dream of becoming an entertainer, why would pursuing music be any different?

Ambition is a great thing to have out here, and while I may not be the most ambitious person in the world, or the city, or even among my own friends, I do want to succeed, and I do want to be happy with whatever I’m doing. I’m not sure I needed a whole year to convince myself of that, but hey – we all work at our own pace.

It was 4 years ago when college started?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the past 4 years recently, and it’s amazing how fast my college years went by. You hear people say that going in, but you always thing “nah, they’re just exaggerating.” Nope. Sometimes people actually know what they’re talking about.

Freshman year was such a great year in just the fact that it was so much different from anything high school had to offer. I was living in the biggest dorm in school, with 30 of my peers, none of us knowing exactly what to expect. Now looking back 4 years later, I don’t remember every single detail, but the stuff I do remember I loved. Sure, there were things I would have done differently, things I regret, but things happen the way they do and you can’t change the past. Fact is, I made a great group of core friends that lasted me throughout school, and even into this weird, post-grad fuzziness that still doesn’t feel like real life.

I consider myself grateful that I kept in touch with so many great people from school, and even more grateful that many of them decided to make the cross-country jump that I did in moving to LA. Some for very different reasons, but all the same we’re here. It’s great when you lose touch with someone you were close with, and when you get back in touch, it’s almost as if you didn’t miss a beat.

I guess the biggest difference with our current life state, is that whereas at the beginning of college, we were all in the same boat, and essentially had the same bumpy ride toward a similar goal, now we’re all captains of our own small boats, some are going faster and steadier than others, and almost none are going to the same island. And in a sense that’s scary, but very exciting. Even my friends that aren’t in Los Angeles, but living in other parts of the country…their paths are totally different than mine, but I’m still interested and supportive of what they’re doing. Plus having a friend in Chicago or San Francisco or Seattle are great excuses to visit those cities (and see baseball games in those cities, that’s another life goal).

I’ve used enough cliches in this post so far, but one more for kicks – none of us know what the future holds, but some have a better idea than others. I’m in the first category, I’m not sure where I’ll be working next week if at all for example. But it’s a decision I made to be here in Los Angeles, searching for work in this environment. 4 years ago I had no idea this is what I would be doing with my post-graduate life. 4 years ago I had no idea what After Effects is. Or what Broomball is. Or how to navigate through the streets of Boston. I had no idea 4 years later I’d be living on my own, across the country from my home, a handful of friends around me, setting my eyes on a career in entertainment, witnessing and experiencing first-hand the many stories I’ve heard in the past – horror stories, celebrity citing stories, big break moment stories. I’m still waiting for my version of the latter. I know it will come. It’s a cliche piece of advice I keep hearing, and if I’ve learned anything in the past 4 years, it’s that cliche pieces of advice are cliche because they’re true.