Editor’s note: Shanice originally posted this piece HERE at shanicekamminga.com . We loved it A LOT and asked if we could repost here. Her references to having been two years since she posted are in reference to her personal blog.
Hi! Remember me? Maybe not since it’s been two full years + nine days since I’ve posted, and I’ve accumulated some epidermal wisdom aka wrinkles in the process. So, what the f took me so long? Well, various things. I started this blog as a 21 (!) year girl who wanted – correction: was obsessed with/desperately needed – to move to Los Angeles to become an actress. I started it during a time when blogs were fairly new and not everyone above 11 and their dog wrote op-eds on TV show episodes yet. I chronicled everything from visa drama to acting classes to motorcycle accidents, and tried to help other artists who wanted to move to Los Angeles. Fast-forward and I’m now a 29 (!!) year old woman who lives in Amsterdam, is not pursuing acting anymore and has a lot more perspective and mental stability – most of the time anyway. So, what’s the story? Have I become a bitter quitter and is this gonna be a “just give up already” post?
This is gonna be a “know thyself” post that will help you find true happiness and eternal bliss. Kidding. But if you’re someone who’s die-hard pursuing something it might help you reflect and make yourself a little more content. Still a lofty promise, perhaps, but lemme explain…
It all started in 2013, 6 months after moving to LA, when I wrote and co-produced a short film to get some English material for my acting reel. The days on set were truly some of the happiest of my life. Not even my wedding day will probably top that. But I’m single so who knows (Tommy Shelby, call me). Anyway, it was the first time in my life that I felt completely in my element, at ease, open and artistically and personally fulfilled. So soon afterwards I started to devote more and more of my time to screenwriting, skipping acting auditions because of it. And not even a year after moving to LA I stopped pursuing acting altogether. Which – after sacrificing 5 years of my life, my relationships, and all my savings for it – was a pretty big deal. But I had slowly come to the realization that – however embarrassing to admit – it wasn’t the acting itself that attracted me, it was the being seen part. It was the thought that being an actress somehow would make me feel loved and included. Something I’ve struggled with throughout my childhood and that will always be a sore spot. Cliché? Totally. But alas, also true.
So how could I have been blind to the point that I gave up my entire (in hindsight pretty amazing) life in Amsterdam to pursue that crazy dream? Well, first of all, I’m obsessive. And so whatever I set my mind to becomes all-consuming. Just the other week I decided to make a mirror glaze cake and couldn’t sleep because of it. No exaggeration. What can you do? Second, I do actually love movies. LOVE them. L.O.V.E. I have ever since I was a toddler and I do to this day. There’s nothing like that moment the lights go down in the movie theater and you just become completely immersed in another world, another person’s feelings. I did want a career in movies, I just didn’t know what it was until a year or so after moving to LA.
And when I did, I went all obsess-mode about that too, of course. Which meant I spent obscene amounts of my time screenwriting, learning about screenwriting and working at The Hatchery Press, a workspace for writers. Which meant that the last thing I wanted to do in my free time was write some more. Which is why I stopped blogging.
And then: plot twist! Whilst visiting the Netherlands to visit family and friends and pick up my approved visa-extension, the Consulate wouldn’t give it to me. They said they were gonna send my application back to Immigration for re-review. And just like that I couldn’t return to the US of A. To my apartment, my job, my friends…my life. With no word on when this re-review would be finished, I first subletted my room in my LA crib, worked from afar, and focused on rewriting my screenplays. But then my roommate moved out and I had to let go of my apartment. And then six months later I still hadn’t heard anything. So, I decided to move on. I shipped my things over, looked for jobs in Amsterdam, and found an apartment – a true miracle in Amsterdam these days.
Then, one week on the dot after I moved into my cute new Amsterdam studio and started a job at a production company, I received an e-mail: my visa was approved after all. But by now I’d already began a new life that I had put my mind to, paid a fortune to ship furniture, and Trump had become president. I reasoned that I could write and make movies from anywhere, and could always return if I became unhappy. So I stayed.
And I’m glad I did. Because these days I get paid to write and direct corporate films and commercials. I get to be creative most days of the week. I get to be on sets and work with crew, which so far still always makes me feel incredibly happy and fulfilled. I get to overview edits and soundtracks and animation and all the fun things that go into making a film. And I am working hard towards my new dream: to be a filmmaker. So, I’m going to shoot a trailer for my feature film in two weeks. And a short film a little later. And – hopefully – make a feature film afterwards.
I do miss my friends in LA – my Talia, Erin, Jay, Devin, Andy, Welmoed. I miss the aforementioned Hatchery Press. I miss hiking. I miss being around other crazies. I miss camping, free movie screenings, and watching Alexander Skarsgård do shirtless push-ups in Griffith Park after a bad day. Ideally, I would split my time between USA and Amsterdam. And I think I might, but not yet.
So, why all this yammering about me life? What’s the lesson that I promised would help you find ultimate happiness? It’s that, at all times, you have to be real with yourself. Especially when you’re pursuing something. Especially when you’ve invested a lot into something already. Because I’ve seen you, LA people. I’ve been you. I know how intoxicating this “never quit, just work harder” mentality is. But you have to continuously ask yourself, no matter how much you’ve already sacrificed: Is this really bringing me joy, or just making me miserable? Do I love the process or am I just focused on the results? Am I doing this for the right reasons? There are so many dreams to choose from, you can’t stick with one only because you’ve already gone through hell for it.
Changing course because you realize that what you hoped would make you happy actually doesn’t, or not anymore, doesn’t make you a quitter. It doesn’t mean you gave up. It just means you’re looking out for yourself, preventing you from becoming bitter, or depressed.
It means you’re becoming wiser, no matter the wrinkly side-effects.