View from the top

Los Angeles mural

I’ll admit it: I’m a wimp in a lot of ways.

I have a low tolerance for pain and temperatures outside the range of 65 and 85 degrees. I’m sensitive to critical comments and fluorescent lighting. I fear making the wrong choice about everything—all the way down to whether I should bring a light sweater or not. But an aversion to anything that’s difficult can be limiting, and in the past, it’s allowed me to be more passive than I’d like. I’d rather think of myself as a Cheryl Strayed-style badass—without the heroin and missing toenails.

But I should give myself more credit. Before I moved across the country, a lot of people told me how brave I was for making the change. At the time, I accepted the flattering remarks without fully realizing the gravity of what I was doing. Yes, it was bold, but the hardest part seemed to be making the decision and sticking to it. The logistics, however tough they would undoubtedly be, would work themselves out.

Oh, how I underestimated the complexity of logistics.

Now that I look back on everything I’ve done in just a few short months, I’m glad I was ever-so-slightly deluded about the challenges ahead. Had I known it would be this hard, I very well might’ve chickened out. But because I didn’t, I’m that much stronger for it.

I don’t think I quite knew what I was capable of before. I’ll go out on a limb and say I still don’t. Literally every assignment I’m given in grad school seems impossible at first, but I always somehow manage to pull it off… usually right before the deadline. Of course, it’s only the beginning of the semester, and shit’s bound to get really real soon enough. But hopefully by then I’ll have built up an even greater tolerance to the pain and suffering that is journalism. (Just kidding, it’s not really like that. Actually, just kidding, it is.) Until then, I’m forcing myself to take a breath every now and then and remember my recent mantra: One day at a time.

And that seems to work for me, at least most of the time. When it doesn’t, though, a good run through the hills does my body good. Hilly runs used to kill me, and they’re still not easy now. But when I reach the reward at the top and take in the view of the hills, the city, and the Hollywood sign in the distance, I’m reminded of why I came here. I can feel the good those runs do for me every day. And I don’t know if it’s the vitamin D from the sun or all those avocados I’ve been eating, but my skin has never looked better. I must be doing something right.

So what’s the point of all this? Well, if you’ve ever felt anything like I have—wimpy, uncertain, scared shitless—let this be a lesson: If I can do it, anyone can. I’m not anywhere close to having my shit figured out, but since I’m guessing that will never happen, I can learn to live with that. Though the future is so uncertain, I hope and believe that it’s bright. And maybe I’ll bring a light sweater—just in case.

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  1. “i hope and believe that it’s bright” – such a great attitude. bravo.

  2. It’s amazing what the Hollywood sign can do for the spirit, isn’t it? I swear, every time I see that thing, my heart gets a little lighter. It’s such a symbol of why people come out to LA in the first place, and on those hardest of days, its a wonderful reminder. YOU’RE DOIN’ IT, GIRL. One day at at time.

    • Cassie Paton says:

      It really is such a shining beacon, haha. I always look at it when I see it and remember exactly that. I AM doing it. And YOU’RE doing it. And that. Is awesome.

  3. You know, if you think about it, the people who are kind of wimps or worriers can be the best at bravery, because they have to be brave just to do ordinary life things! At least, this is what I tell myself when I feel sheepish about the multitude of things that frighten me.

    And girl, never leave the house without a light sweater and a stick of deodorant. That’s just reckless.

    • Cassie Paton says:

      Ahahaha point well made. I know better now. 😉

      And I like your thoughts on bravery. I’m going to remember that next time I get hung up on the little things.

  4. I’m convinced that most any mental suffering can be eased with a good, long run. Last month when my grandmother passed away unexpectedly it was strong drinks, long runs, and family that got me through it. And i’ll be damned if the middle one wasn’t perhaps the most important of all of them – long runs where I cried in the middle as emotions finally released and the short ones where I ran so hard I had to catch my breath, the memories and sadness twirling in my mind. But at end of the each of them, I loved my grandmother even more and had learned a little bit about myself and the way I handle the shit the world throws our way.

    • Cassie Paton says:

      Weird how emotional runs can be, isn’t it? They’re so difficult sometimes, but also so cathartic. Definitely a great form of therapy. (And the strong drinks help, too.) xo

  5. I’ve had the same epiphany before about big changes. It happened when I was in New York City. I was so delusional to the energy of the place that when I got there it didn’t even phase me. I even read a freaking map back to the ferry docks after my poor Poppop got us lost and my Nana could barely walk anymore. I think it was one of those situations where I knew I had to jump in with both feet to find our way around or continue to wander aimlessly in the financial district. Looking back on it now, I am still amazed that I was able to do that on my first trip there. I’m still pretty proud of that moment. 🙂

    • Cassie Paton says:

      I NEVER THOUGHT I UNDERSTOOD MAPS. I literally believed they just weren’t for me. When you actually are forced to take charge of the situation and figure out where you’re going, though, it’s empowering to lead the way. Good for you. 🙂

  6. I could have written this post, except not as eloquently. I’m making a big move in a month or so. Not as big as yours, but still big. I’ve got my first apartment and I’m going back to school, also for journalism, although I have to sit through a few undergrad classes before sh*t gets real. But I’m ready for the challenges ahead. Like you, I know I’ll come out stronger on the other side.

    • Cassie Paton says:

      YOU GO, GIRL. I wish you the best of luck. Like I said, if I can do it… 🙂

      Can’t wait to see where your journey takes you!

  7. Great mantra. I’m the same way in that, when I look back on things, I wonder if I would have done it had I known everything I had to go through to get there. Sometimes I know that if I had a choice, I’d choose never to go that route but a part of me also realizes that if it weren’t for that crazy route full of mistakes and other BS, I wouldn’t be where I am today (it’s so cliche, but so true).

    • Cassie Paton says:

      Yep, all those painful, cringe-worthy mistakes are part of us, too. Even though I’d do things differently if I actually got a redo, I’m glad things went the way they did.

  8. Thanks for this text, it’s so inspiring for all of us trying to figure out if they’re doing a good enough job. I guess most you can do is try hard and push ahead.

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