”For the last year, I’ve been letting myself down. I have not been the person I want to be or even really close to the person I want to be.”
I am someone who has always prided myself on being…well…myself. I try not to conform to what people want or expect of me but only to what I expect of myself. That is what led me, after spending four years studying Film and TV in college, to apply to and accept an offer from Teach for America without a single thought as to what most of my friends and family would think – and I’m sure more than a few thought I was crazy. It is what has led me to dance awkwardly at bars, to tell stupid jokes to my students, to attend the first Bloggers in Sin City weekend without knowing a soul, and to essentially be me.
But for the last year, I’ve been letting myself down. I have not been the person I want to be or even really close to the person I want to be.
Granted, this past year was rough. It started me with ending a year-long relationship. Then, my sister moved back to the East coast leaving me in LA by myself, far from anyone in my immediate family for the first time ever. I was then quickly in the midst of a weird non-relationship that made me feel terrible and anxious about myself 90% of the time, and finally, I was thrown into a difficult situation at work that I felt no one was acknowledging or dealing with properly.
This resulted in some not so pretty things. I stopped living up to the standards I hold for myself and became a much less Amanda version of Amanda.
I became someone who gave up at work, who didn’t try as hard as I knew I had to given the stakes of my job just because there were excuses as to why I couldn’t and why it was too hard. I gave up on some kids who really needed me, and honestly, did not push them to where they needed to be, which is a fact that eats at me every day.
I was someone who drank every weekend at levels exceeding even my college drinking levels, leading me to spend most weekend mornings eating unhealthy brunch food to nurse the hangover. I was someone who made sometimes fun – 2AM ocean runs anyone? – but mostly stupid decisions when drunk: not terrible, life-threatening decisions, but decisions that left me curled up in the morning thinking Why on EARTH was that the choice I made?!
For reasons I still can’t full explain or acknowledge, I was someone who cancelled on friends to go hang with guys who were kind of (read: complete) assholes to me on a regular basis.
I was someone who made goals then forgot them – goals to cook and clean more. Goals to call home more. Goals to do more fun and exciting things like hike in the beautiful LA Mountains or bike by the beach. I became someone who signed up for yoga, went for a month, then let my $60 yoga mat rot in the corner, while my credit card was charged for months, all while I ate In and Out for dinner and watched several DVR’ed episodes of Dance Moms.
Through all this, I wasn’t miserable. I had fun. I still liked work enough, saw my friends, and had some little adventures. It was all just…fine. And that is why it continued for so long. Nothing was that bad so nothing really pushed me to change. It was a slow downward spiral that I lacked the knowledge or desire to really stop.
It wasn’t until I really took stock of myself on a whim one day in February with The Joy Equation that I broke down crying, and it hit me that this person I had become was no where near the person I wanted or needed to be.
I want to be someone who constantly pushes forward both because I love what I do and because I know what I do has meaning and worth. I want to be someone who makes time to cook healthy meals, both because I genuinely love cooking and because my body is worth taking care of. I want to be someone who finds the time to dedicate to exercise, specifically dance because I know I love it and find it silly that I keep denying that I should just exercise in the ways that work for me and not for everyone else. I want to be someone who makes smart relationship choices because I know in my heart and soul that I deserve nothing less than someone who is truly good to me and appreciates all the amazing things I have to offer.
I’ve already taken a huge step in propelling myself towards who I want to be and away from the person I’ve been this past year of destruction by taking myself out of LA and getting myself into grad school at NYU. I think I could’ve changed things for the better in LA, but by moving, I believe I can kick start things and get perspective in a way I couldn’t in LA. I also want to start doing the thing that I love doing sooner rather than later in my career, which feels like an excellent and exciting bonus at the moment. (More on all that career goodness soon!) Leaving LA is seriously difficult and depressing – I made my adult life out there, and I do hope to return at the end of my grad school experience, but I know when I do, I will be a better person because of this change and this chance, and I know I will move much closer to becoming the true Amanda I know I can be.