After 4 years of living alone in LA, I got it into my head to try a roommate situation. The thing about that was, I hadn’t experienced living with roommates ever, in my entire life. I have no idea why I thought it would be a fun idea to live with two other NYC chicks, I barely knew, who were actors on the rise, in a great apartment, while cutting living expenses? What was I thinking? Well, I did it for a year, in the beginning it was fun, but the fun turned sour by our fourth month, cue ominous music. It wasn’t a horrific experience, but it definitely wasn’t the best of times. At the end of our lease we all decided to part ways and move out. By that time, I was energetically depleted and exhausted, not only from the roommates, but a combination of the constant barrage of “What Actors Should and Shouldn’t Do” philosophies, the unsolicited opinions from my peers of how they thought I should approach my career, and from monotonously pursuing acting 24-7-365. My entire being was in a dense fog. My head was so noisy, it felt like my thoughts were in an infamous rave party with deep throbbing bass rattling my brain, flashing lights and lasers triggering all the wrong impulses while sirens distracted me from making decisions. I had so many opinions in my head I was struck with analysis paralysis.
When it was time to move out of our great apartment, I didn’t know what part of town I wanted to live in, nor the energy to apartment hunt. I was able to sub-lease the apartment of a friend who had been on location in Hawaii for close to a year. It was the perfect respite, once I settled in I resolved to go on a People Fast. I made that up, but of course, that made complete sense to me. In LA, people do dietary fasts all the time, whether it’s to lose weight or to detox their bodies from bad food, alcohol or drugs. A reset, if you will. I called one of my good friend’s and informed her that I wouldn’t be talking to her for a while and not to take it personal, in retrospect, I probably should have told more people instead of just dropping out of contact, but I didn’t care, I was over people. The only phone calls I took were from my mother, my bestie, and my accountability partner. Once termed the social butterfly, I became quite anti-social. I’d attend some events occasionally, alone, and wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone, if someone was bold enough to engage me, I’d respond briefly, vaguely. My thought bubble said leave me alone. If I could have disappeared into a wall like Tobias Fünke spying on Lindsay, I would have.
One afternoon, early on in the people fast, I was flipping TV channels, Steve Jobs flashed across the screen, I turned back to the channel to see what he was talking about. It was his commencement speech at Stanford, it was just at the moment of him saying “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” I began to weep. Call it serendipity, the divine, or providence, it was exactly what I needed to hear in the midst of my mental chaos. It was the fundamental premise of my People Fast. I didn’t hate people, as I thought, I just allowed a lot of their opinions to impose on my own thoughts. I wasn’t holding my POV. I so needed to hear this at that moment because even though my instincts lead me to the idea of clearing my mind from all of the dogma I had ingested, I felt guilty for cutting the connection to people and was concerned that I may have been isolating myself. And I was, but for good reason. Funny, huh? I’m talking about having all of these opinions of others fogging up my mind, but one solid opinion silenced all of the noise and supported the reasoning behind my People Fast. But that was it. I needed to be reminded that, I know better than anyone else, what is best for me, to hold my point of view when seeking guidance and listen to my instincts when advice resonates or sets of an alarm. Since I began residing in Los Angeles, back in 2005, I was trying to figure out how to be an actor. I thought I had to make the information of people who had been here for a long time, into gospel. But, one thing I know about myself is, I tend to see both sides of the coin and my response to life is not traditional in any sense of the word, so how could I allow others opinions be the word of the acting Gods, if I didn’t always agree with it? Well, I didn’t have confidence in my choices in regards to pursuing my career in a new town. I thought I did when I first moved to LA, but after hearing “things are different here” enough times, I backburnered my ideas.
My People Fast lasted 8 months. I had cleared my mind, rebooted my energy level and honed listening to my intuition. Steve Jobs was right, it ALWAYS knows best. Through this fast, I learned how to drown out the noise of others and listen to my instincts, which has grown stronger from each time I have relied on them. As a result, I’ve learned to make decisions quicker, without worrying if it’s the right one. There is so much power in making a choice from a grounded clear mind, and every choice I make is the right one, because I trust its source.
That eight months of solitude was such a grand gift. It no longer takes me eight months to come back to a zen mind because I’ve learned to take a complete break from all things acting, more often than less, I seem to work better when I reboot my system. I’ve also learned how to listen to the opinions of others without taking them on as beliefs. I now seek out sage advice from a very small batch of people who have peace of mind, make my own rules, oh, and I don’t have roommates.