Better Than.

Photo credit: Alicia Way / @panteradactyl
Photo credit: Alicia Way / @panteradactyl

Listening To: Something About You – ODESZA remix, Hayden James

Tuesday afternoon, after dropping Dave off at the airport, Larkin and I drove back to the SW Hills and had a long talk about mortality and youthful regrets and starting over. I told him about how I had stumbled upon the Instagram feed of a girl I know (not Alicia Way, FYI) who started going to rock shows with her friend and then talked her way into selling merch for one of her fav bands and now tours with bands all year long. “God, it would have been my DREAM to do that in my 20s, but I honestly had no fucking clue that was even a choice, you know?” I told him. When Larkin and I were young, it felt like there were very strict expectations and beliefs and paths you could travel on, but that was it. “Like, the kids who only cared about art class were kind of laughed at,” I reminded him, “because the only way anyone thought you could make money from studying art was if you were a teacher or a legit, high-selling artist. And now most of those kids are graphic designers and making hella bank.” And we didn’t have the internet to tell us about other people’s adventures or provide us with a guide for how to make money by watching Reality TV – we had guidance counselors who were notorious for squashing dreams in favor of pushing us along a certain road so our parents wouldn’t worry about us. And that’s no excuse…plenty of us still dropped out of college and determined to make our own way – myself included – but sometimes I wish I could go back to my early 20s and just be a little more daring, you know? Be 23 again and just pick up and go anywhere that was remotely close to writing or film or music, and just promise myself that if I worked hard enough and took enough chances, I would eventually figure it all out.

And I know why I wasn’t and why I didn’t, and I know it’s always kind of useless to have regrets, but…Larkin and I both agreed that maybe that’s why we were doing what we were doing, now. In my early 30s, I felt like I was in my own personal version of Sleeping Beauty, where I finally woke up from years of grief and obvious-to-everyone-but-me depression and was like, “The hell to THIS bullshit…” And I’m still not done, I don’t think. Looking at Instagram feeds of girls like Alicia Way’s late at night…I can’t articulate it fully, but it sort of reminds me that there’s always still time left to become whoever you always meant to be. Maybe that means finally figuring out how to do a proper smokey eye…maybe that means picking up and moving to LA to finally give entertainment writing a real shot…maybe that means saying “fuck it” to all the bullshit excuses for why you haven’t written the book you know you’re supposed to write before you die.

We live in a world, now, where you can literally make a living from doing *anything* you want to do, and chances are, there’s someone on the internet who can help you figure out how to do it. That is a magical, heady, #FUCKYEAH type’a thing. That’s not saying it’s easy (have you TRIED to perfect a smokey eye? That shit can turn out to be a real mess if you don’t what you’re doing), and real talk? Sometimes It might not be worth it, in the end. But I think it’s still worth doing…because the one thing our guidance counselors never told us was that, even if we do end up poor and unemployed and back to living with our parents, we still get to say that we did it. You know? Going to LA and failing is still better than staying in your hometown and never trying.

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About Amber L.

Hi! I'm Amber. I've been telling stories with books and blogs since 2004. I also spent 10 years working as a behavior therapist, which I now put to proper use by publishing thought pieces and dissertations on '80s pop music and the defining TV shows of our current times ('The Bachelor', 'Vanderpump Rules', etc). I can also be credited with single-handedly ruining the city of Portland, OR just by moving here.

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