I bought my first TV. You read that right. An Insignia with a dire need for a sound bar has been perched across my bed for only a month and a half now, and I can’t believe I ever thought solely watching movies off my laptop was acceptable. I always opted for the smaller screen, and shied away from my roommates’ TVs in college, with the exception of using one as a makeshift monitor for my then-laptop that busted during the heat of finals week.
It feels special to lay in bed and rewatch The Bear til I fall asleep on the remote. I often forget, in general, how special it is to live alone and pour so much into myself. This includes cooking dinner with a cocktail in hand, playing my records loudly (my neighbors have never complained), singing loudly in the shower, and soaking in the tub with a candle nearby and a book in my hand. I pay a premium for peace.
That being said, I came to a conclusion recently–today–that there is a fine line between intentional isolation for the purpose of self-preservation, and isolation for recharging and introspection. I err on the side of self-preservation. A friend told me, word for word, “You have a gentle heart, maybe sometimes fragile, which is why you create such a rough exterior to protect yourself.” A read, for sure, but true.
I came to the conclusion that for the past x months, I have been so focused on finding a sense of belonging with people who could care less about me, and it’s left me not only confused, but empty. I have been chasing profound connections with people who can only view me on the casual spectrum. There is a time and place for fun, easy, quick, and spontaneous, and while I love nothing more than last-minute tacos on the hood of a car accompanied by hearty conversation, I know that what I’m seeking includes a tremendous amount of forethought and effort.
Everyone desires a place and people where they feel deeply understood–it’s human nature. We’re driven by some unseen faith in a higher power and keep searching for life somewhere else in the galaxy because to feel connection is to feel at home! The same way we’re all bumping into each other in the dark, groaning “Love me, love me!”
You could find it in someone. Or something. I find it in music all the time. We find it in shows with complex and compelling characters that mirror us. I see myself in Carmen and Sydney (re: The Bear) and understand the avoidance, perfectionism, and push and pull with the pleasures of hedonism. I’m seen, comforted, and understood. It’s why I love to write, it’s why I want to write films. I want to connect and feel, and the ultimate pursuit of happiness for me is healing myself and others.
But here I am, in a sprawling city where anything can happen, and I can’t seem to find anybody to fall in love with. I can’t seem to craft the intimate space Greta Gerwig referenced in Frances Ha: “It’s a party… and you’re both talking to other people, and you’re laughing and shining… and you look across the room and catch each other’s eyes… but – but not because you’re possessive, or it’s precisely sexual… but because… that is your person in this life. And it’s funny and sad, but only because this life will end, and it’s this secret world that exists right there in public, unnoticed, that no one else knows about.” That, to me, is quintessential in love…and I’m kind of tired of acting like I’m totally cool with casual.

So I deleted all my dating apps and had a nearly 9-hour-long conversation with a dear friend of mine (we are platonic soulmates) and agreed that pouring love into yourself is a better option than nonchalant. After all, I do love myself deeply, despite being unable to see it clearly. I buy myself sweet-smelling shampoo and perfumes, love the blush on my face, know exactly how sweet to make my coffee, wrap myself in the comfiest clothing, and even chat with myself from time to time via blogging or journaling…or overthinking in the shower. Everything I want, I can give to myself until someone can do the same and more.
I can find connection by crafting it myself–I’ve wanted to write my own ideas for so long, it’s time to actually walk the walk. A girl who can relate so much to the screen is ready to write for it and what better way to self-express all this needless pining? I am the queen of yearning…
In addition to the introspection of my love life and lack thereof, I finally gained clarity on my people-pleasing habits. Since a child, I’ve been a lifelong improv performer, going yes, and… to every task, burden, and otherwise bore I found myself internally clawing at myself to turn down. I like being charismatic. I like being liked, and most importantly, I want people to know I am kind. But when you (I) constantly let people step all over you (me), and with a smile, you (I) lose yourself and boundaries are murky and pointless. I can’t live like that forever.
So alongside the conservation of my romantic efforts, I’ve opted to speak what I actually feel and start saying no a hell of a lot more often. It’s wildly uncomfortable and I imagine there’s going to be bumps in this learning journey–there already have been–but in such a short amount of time doing so, the payoff is amazing. The fear of being disliked can’t outweigh my personal needs anymore and the right people will recognize and respect that. There is nothing I can say or do (within reason) that will drive those people away. I just have to have faith in that, and that they genuinely like me for me, and not just what I can provide.
Only good can come out of this, even if it initially feels bad. Things do have to fall apart before they come together.
All of that aside (feelings, yuck!) I feel like the past month and a half has been hectic but very well-needed. I nearly yakked on a guy I really liked–alcohol-induced–and in between my “I’m sorry’s”, he asked me what was troubling me. For years, I’d been prodded by family asking why I couldn’t or refused to mend my relationship with my sister, and lo and behold, she was visiting LA and asking a relative if I’d be open to meeting.
I consider myself fairly humble but the thought of swallowing years of pride was plain hard. I cared enough to, and it didn’t pan out how I planned. Nothing ever does really. I didn’t expect to feel the slightest bit of relief, though. Like I could take the burden of trying off of my shoulders.
While lighter, it still left me in an odd limbo I thought could be filled by a friend visiting me. I was also wrong about that. People can’t fill the voids left by others, because nobody is and nobody ever will be the exact same. A stand-in sister, while beyond value and so dearly loved, can’t be a long-lost blood relative with extensive and painful lore!!! Awful but true. I butt heads with her and though she left on a good note, I reevaluated where I’m at in life and the differences in our goals and how we approach them. So I elected to take a step back and focus on my own creative process because as much as I love collaboration, I want something to call my own. I want to carve a space out for myself that is definitively and distinctly mine and me. Who would’ve guessed a failed reconciliation could lead to that? I’m dubbing it a win.
Being slammed with mercury retrograde, dissatisfaction with my current career, and paying a pretty penny for new car insurance, I feel like every facet of myself is becoming undone. I recently remedied it by packing a bag and going to Manhattan Beach for the first time in some six months. I have only worn a bikini 3-4 times in my life but in the expedition for self-acceptance and love, I wore one, and apprehensively peeled off my cover once I made it to my little spot under the pier.
Making my way to the water, cautiously, I dipped myself into the waves and imagined I was washing away all the anxiety, anger, self-doubt, and callousness I had only recently developed. Dunked my head under seaweed-ridden currents and let the saltwater turn my hair into these dark, disheveled ribbons. I’m sure that from the perspective of another beach spectator, I might’ve even looked pretty.
The sand clung to me and I spent a little while writing before sleeping in what I mentally described as a solar blanket. I’m not one for intentionally tanning, it just felt nice to appreciate my body for the day. Fingers in the sand, water dribbling off my limbs, sweat mixed with tuberose and orange blossom perfume, I felt like the fear of every preceding day just burned away.
I’m already thinking about going again this Saturday.
All in all, I’m curious to see how all these new life changes pan out. I tossed whatever I was smoking, dumped the rest of my liquor (admittedly not much), and declared to my friend that I am done with the escapism and I am committed to not only working tirelessly on my own ideas, but identifying and healing the parts of me that are holding me back.
The goal is not perfection!! Just growth. I’m sure the sudden lack of chaos will initially feel boring, but hey, I’m paying a premium for peace.