What I’ve learned from the loneliest long weekend ever

It’s been a while since I’ve done any deep cleaning, but thanks to this neverending low-key holiday weekend, everything in my room is in order again. My shirts, pants, and sweaters are nicely folded on the shelf, my shoes are lined up under my bed, my books are stacked on top of each other, and my extra blankets are next to the heater, where they’ll remain until November. The whole place has been Febrezed, and I’ve watched almost every episode of “New Girl.” A lot of my good friends are out of town until for a few days, and I’ve never wanted the work week to start this much. It’s just not very fun being holed up inside, but what am I supposed to do if no one is available?

This is exactly what I went through at the beginning of freshman year at UA. It seemed like everyone was going out and socializing constantly while I had solo Nicholas Sparks marathons in my room and wrote letters to my then-boyfriend. When my well-adjusted roommate would return from some frat party or another, I’d lie about how I’d spent the evening, because the truth was just too depressing to relive.

My dorm on a lonely night
My dorm on a lonely night
Sophomore year dorm room
Sophomore year dorm room
Soph year
Soph year

I know I’m nothing like the 18-year-old lonesome, homesick student of 2006, but this weekend feels very similar to those days, especially since I’m spending so much time cleaning the apartment. I scrubbed the toilet this afternoon, and I never do that. At least my roommate will return to a clean place, right?

There’s also an awesome improv show tonight, and those always cheer me up. Maybe afterward I’ll feel confident enough to grab one drink, and I mean one drink, down the street. I don’t like going to bars by myself, mainly because this invites a lot of weird attention from tipsy guys, but if I’m already out, I may as well. I can always pull a Jenna Marbles if need be!

Here’s another thing I learned during my dreaded but apparently much-needed “me” time: I’m considering changing career paths in the somewhat distant future. Not within the next year or anything, but maybe in 2.5-3 years. From my short but substantial time in NYC, I’ve concluded there’s a ceiling online media folks hit, and I think I need to get out of here before I reach that point. I’m not there yet, but in two years, I’ll be dangerously close.

It’s no secret that journalism doesn’t lend itself to livable or fair paychecks. It has pushed away writers with some of the greatest potential, talent, and work ethic there is, all because they weren’t born into wealth or able to live in expensive places like NYC, Boston, or LA on their salaries. I’m going to be 25 in a few weeks, and I want to start a family someday. I’d eventually like to have solid health insurance, because as much as I love Obamacare and free birth control, mooching off your mom’s coverage is not a good look for someone who’s theoretically been an adult for eight years. At 30, am I really going to enjoy putting in 60+ hour weeks without the compensation to make up for it? We all hear corporate and finance horror stories, but at least those guys earn enough to make the most of life when they’re not at the office. I won’t be going down either of those roads, but I am going to make some drastic changes before long.

So, in 2.5-3 years, I would like to relocate to Los Angeles — my birthplace, for better or worse — and give screenwriting a try. I know, I know, you can’t just move to LA and create the script for “New Girl” or some other incredible sitcom, but I’m willing to start from scratch and work my way up again, and the good news is I won’t be too old to take a big leap at that point. I’m not far away from hitting a ceiling in the print/online media world, and though I’d like to continue writing books, I also want to give this a shot once I’ve had enough of New York City. I will always have my blog, and I can always freelance. Writing for the internet forever, though, just doesn’t appeal to me.

Besides, if I go to California, I’ll be able to see my nephews, nieces, and immediate family more frequently. It’s bad enough that I only visit them once or twice a year, but if I return before they’re 10 or 11, I will get to spend time with them before their sullen teenage years, when they’ll be just way too cool to converse with a dork like me.

Screaming with Sawyer
Screaming with Sawyer

Sawyer and Laura

They hijacked my phone!
They hijacked my phone!

This isn’t what 7-year-old me anticipated when I declared writing my lifelong passion. I wanted to be in print, not on an eye-straining laptop screen. I wanted to be the subject of Letters to the Editor, not troll rants and Twitter outbursts. I wanted to spend my days reading books and writing in diaries, not forcing myself to stay off social media, which consistently puts me in a sour mood.

I will never, ever stop writing, but when I hit 27 or 28, I’d like to approach it differently, as I’ve been doing the journaling thing for, I don’t know, 18 years now (in blog and notebook form). I’ve experienced print and online writing, and believe me when I say the latter gets old really fast, if anything because it doesn’t give readers the same thrill and sense of mystery as opening up a fresh newspaper or book. So this is my new long-term goal. Who knows if it’ll pan out, but at least I’ve established what’s ultimately important to me and that I need a change of scenery soon. What do you make of this? Let me know in the comments.


7 thoughts on “What I’ve learned from the loneliest long weekend ever

  1. Do what feels right.

    Also, if you haven’t already seen this, I’d recommend you watch it, and/or write about it. It’s heart wrenching.

    I’m mainly mentioning the above, very off-topic statement because your profile at PolicyMic says something about you being interested in bullying prevention and things like that.

    But, to get back on topic, don’t put off what you really want. Family is important. Cherish them. Also, get a Masters or a Ph.D or something. In this day in age, I feel like it’s hard to do much with just a Bachelors. Although you seem to have done quite a lot, (sorry, I’m assuming that you have only a bachelors).

  2. Laura,
    I like this posting. I see something familiar from your story — doing what you like but what you like does not bring in enough to live comfortably. My son is one year younger than you are. He told me most of his friends who don’t have some technical skills or who pursue humanities end up working at some irrelevant job and have to work extra hours to make ends meet. By the end of the day, they are so exhausted that they don’t have the time and energe to do what they truly enjoy.

    From this, I would say there are two things one must have in order to do what one likes: money and time.

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