Life in LA: What I Learned & Why I Left


Wow this is bittersweet. And surreal. And every other emotion all wrapped up and crammed into my aching heart. It’s Memorial Day, and this is the last morning that I will spend in my perfect little West Hollywood apartment. As I try to find the words to say, all my amazing memories of the last 9 months are replaying in my mind. It… Was… Incredible. Moving to LA is something that I dreamed of doing my entire life, and although I’m ready to go home now, this past year was so necessary. Everything has changed. I have evolved in so many unexpected ways, my heart is bursting with gratitude. This experience was SO essential for my soul, and I know that I wouldn’t have achieved such exponential growth unless I took this past year to do ERIKA. Up until last summer, I had lived my entire life on other people’s terms- which was no one’s fault but my own. Whether it was what my parents told me I could or could not to, or immersing myself into a boyfriend’s world, losing myself + my own life in the process, I just wished that I had done what ERIKA always dreamed of… I mean, that’s what you’re supposed to do in your twenties, right? I felt like I had missed my shot and that I failed myself by not really ever TRYING. So I decided to stop seeking the approval of others, worried about what they might say or think, and I put myself first- leaving everything I knew and loved behind in pursuit of my dream of living in Los Angeles. The timing was perfect, I was going through an extremely painful breakup with the love of my life & I knew in my heart that we both had some serious growing up to do- separately. Not only did I know that I physically couldn’t watch him “move on” right in front of my face, I felt like at 26 it was my last shot & that I would always look back in regret if I never moved, always wondering “what if?” It was a really tough + scary decision, but every time I wanted to shrink back in fear- as silly as it sounds- I just kept thinking about what I want my life to stand for, and the example that I want to set for others. I want to be bold and courageous, unafraid to chase my dreams & pursue what sets my soul on fire. How could I instill that in others if I had never even done it myself? So I took a giant leap of faith and I DID IT… and I know for sure that it was the best, most life-changing decision that I have ever made. I wouldn’t change a thing.

I have become a different woman, the very best version of myself. I have found new strength, independence, confidence & ambition that I don’t think I would have gained if I didn’t I throw myself into this new, wild experiment. It reminds me of the quote “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” The energy is insane out here: EVERYONE is chasing their dreams, EVERYONE is moving at lightning speed trying to make something of themselves, and EVERYONE is working 100x harder than I ever even knew possible, which rubbed off on me and inspired me to do the same. It’s contagious. I met so many AMAZING people who I will never forget! New friends who opened my heart + mind to new ideas, experiences, and adventures. Someone asked me recently, “How have you even changed…?” I was so perplexed and didn’t know how to answer! All I could say is “In every way.” IDK. It has taken me awhile to try to digest how LA has changed me, and I have been procrastinating writing this because I feel like once I hit “post” it makes it so final. I have written, deleted, and re-written this post at least a hundred times by now. It will never be perfect, I’ll never fully be able to explain everything that happened or the way my time in Hollywood made me feel. And honestly- I am still a nervous wreck about whether or not leaving was the right decision. But here goes nothing! The top things that I learned living in LA:

To be unapologetically myself. My favorite thing about LA- people let their freak flag fly, and no one bats an eyelash! You can say what you want, wear what you want, BE who you want. Being unique is celebrated, and being a square is frowned upon. I had a fresh clean slate, no one knew me or had any preconceived notions about me, just like I didn’t know any of these new people. I liked it. And in this new life that I was building, where I could be anyone I wanted to be, I wanted to be authentically ME- the real, uncensored me. While I have griped about the general unfriendlyness of Angelenos, I have honestly met the DOPEST, most interesting people that I’ve ever met in my life this year. In the beginning, I definitely felt extremely intimidated by making new friends with these people who I thought were so much smarter, cooler, well-traveled & successful than I. But having them think that I was pretty awesome too built my confidence in ways that I never could’ve imagined. I was speaking my truth & my ideas were validated. It’s a city of dreamers, and everyone has a unique story about how they fought like hell to make it to where they are today. Speaking of confidence- to be honest, I have always been one of those girls who would never leave the house without makeup. I felt like that was what made me beautiful. Ironically, if you’re wearing makeup in the daytime in LA without purpose- you’re weird. In a sea of models, actors, and social media sensations, you have to be more than just a pretty face. I’m no longer afraid of putting my best {bare} face forward.

No risk, no reward. I have wanted to start a blog for Y-E-A-R-S. I have to admit, I was totally fearful of putting myself out there and being vulnerable! Naked & afraid as I like to say lol. I worried that no one would care, no one would read it, that people would make fun of me… HOWEVER, I am eternally grateful for that cold February night, 1 glass of Pinot G deep, dying of boredom when I decided to just go for it. Let me just say right now, that the ABSOLUTE BEST THING to come from this past year in LA is all of the new friendships I’ve gained as a result of starting this blog. I have been overwhelmed with so many loving messages from women who too strive to build up + celebrate other women, which couldn’t be more awesome. It’s so surreal and crazy to me to receive messages from girls telling me that I inspired them in some way, or that they love something that I suggested. No joke, it’s the BEST feeling in the entire world!!!! I still can’t believe it. Every single note makes me want to tear up, it is SO freaking awesome. In a place that sometimes felt so dark, these new budding friendships brought so much light.

The true meaning of hard work. So there’s one person in particular that I met who totally changed my perspective on hard-work, and I don’t think that I ever would’ve grasped this concept of what it TRULY TAKES to be the BEST at what you do unless I saw all of this behind the scenes stuff. You don’t get to that spot by putting in a little effort here & there. People who are out there killin’ it take MASSIVE action, every single day, multiplying the work that others put in x100, sacrificing the fun stuff to wake up early af each day to work on their craft, dedicating their whole entire lives to it. There are no happy hours. There are no Netflix marathons. There’s consistency, persistence, and a constant competition with oneself to become better than you were yesterday… and not like “5 days a week.” He legitimately has a calendar on his phone that shows that EVERY. SINGLE. DAY he accomplishes the same insanely strenuous routine. At first I thought that this dude was literally PSYCHO- or maybe an alien. But nah, he is a SUPER HUMAN. And I think that power to become excellent like him lies within all of us, however only a few people are willing to put in the crazy amount of work it takes to get to that level. I think that it’s mind over matter, a serious mindset change, and the drive to want “it” whatever “it” is to you, more than you even want to breathe. So yeah. I am forever changed by being around this type of energy and excellence and have SO much respect for the people who are out there reallllllly doin’ it.

I. LEARNED. SO. MUCH!!!! And not just about adulting lol. We chose to not have a tv, and I think this was the biggest game changer! Super difficult transition at first, considering I was a severe Bravo addict, but it was so crucial for me to not have the option to slip into my old homebody ways- which is super easy for me to do. This meant that if I was bored, I found something to go out & do. Or listen to AudioBooks or Podcasts {SO many audiobooks, Audible is my ISH!!!} Read books. Watch YouTube videos {I finally figured out how to do my makeup- thanks Jaclyn Hill!} Go downstairs to Trader Joe’s and try out new recipes. And then when I started my blog… WOW! I spent 12+ hours a day trying to figure out the ins and outs of social media, algorithms, coding, seo, wtf, you name it! Still have the longest way EVER to go, but I feel like this little brain of mine has doubled in size lol.

How to treat people. Tbh, sometimes I felt invisible. As someone who now understands how it feels to be looked past and ignored, I know the value that a genuine, warm “Hey! How’s it goin?!” holds. It’s a cold world out there, and you never know how much simply being friendly to someone can turn their day around. That warmth can also inspire others to do the same, and that joy may multiply. So just smile. And care about others. And be a good person. Life’s too short to spend moping around + spreading negativity for no good reason {or because you think resting bitch face is cool: newsflash! It’s not}

All that glitters is not gold. While I’m still a glam girl who likes nice things, I feel like I have become a lot LESS superficial since moving to Los Angeles. Observing first-hand how so many people placed such a high value of people’s worth based on their things instead of their character was really eye-opening to me. Not only that, the obnoxious excess was sickening, I.E. 23 year olds with full diamond Rolex’s going to the club on a Monday night pouring $10K worth of champagne on their watches and filming it for Instagram stories… Multiple nights a week. Like. Why? I watched people who I’ve known for many years who were once the sweetest, most humble people come into stardom or fortune or even just a fancier lifestyle and totally transform into inrecognizable, protentious pieces of shit which was really sad. Or while working, I met women who were given the “world” by their husbands- the bags, the cars, the houses, just to shut them up so that the husband could go do whatever and whoever he wanted… That’s no life to live. Or seeing celebrities out to dinner being bugged every second to take photos & then be berraded when they asked people to respect their time with their family. I know, I know, they’re “asking for it” since they’re famous & they chose to put themselves in the limelight, but I definitely did NOT think that fame seemed like an appealing life after seeing it so up close & personal. Poor Justin Bieber wanting to just be a regular kid and go party, yet the second he walks into the club people are recording his every move- with flash right in his face, at that LOL. That being said, I did meet a few incredible people who truly had it goin’ on, yet were so modest, made everyone feel like a somebody- just really treated EVERYONE with so much kindness, generousity and respect, and that was really cool. While I most certainly would never turn down a Chanel bag or a G-Wagon, I think I definitely witnessed: Mo’ money, mo’ problems & to me, it’s not worth selling my soul for.

A new love + appreciation for home. I took so many mundane everyday things for granted! While there are obviously a million perks to living in LA, the contrast of life here vs. life in Scottsdale was so necessary for me to see first-hand. Of course everyone told me that LA is crazy expensive, has terrible traffic + sometimes equally terrible people, but it really is something that I had to experience for myself to understand. I had never lived away from home for an extended period of time, so I never knew how DEEPLY I would miss my family & friends. Like soul crushing type of yearning for those amazing relationships that I totally took for granted. Someone said it so perfectly, “You spent 20+ years building a life, friendships, and community in Scottsdale. You can’t expect to have the same thing in LA in less than a year. These things take time.” Totally true, and a statement that really challenged me. Will I be making a mistake by not grinding through and giving it another few years? Honestly, probably. But I guess in my heart of hearts, I really don’t want to stay and find out. All my life, I thought that my dream was a place- LA. But now I know that a dream life isn’t a place at all, but instead, the people who surround you and make it worthwhile.

The past month, I have been completely MIA and checked out as I was going through such a whirlwind of emotions- Do I stay, or do I go? Resources were running out, my old enemies anxiety and depression crept back into my life uninvited, and I really had to reflect + take an emotional inventory to figure out what my little heart really needs. Right now, it’s to go home. To say that LA didn’t “work out” for me would be a big fat lie, it worked out in more ways than I ever could explain. I have 0% idea what’s next, and honestly- that’s really exciting to me. Maybe I’ll move back to California, maybe a totally different place, or maybe Arizona is where I’ll stay forever. Only time will tell. I mean, 365 days ago I was sippin’ huckleberry lemonades on the golf course in Coeur d’Alene, life was good, and if someone were to tell me that I would be moving to Los Angeles 2 1/2 months later, I seriously wouldn’t believe it. Isn’t it crazy how much your entire life can change in just one short year…? My greatest lesson from all of this is summed up perfectly by a quote that a friend sent me, which is, “It’s OKAY to change your mind. It’s OKAY to pivot. It’s OKAY to stop going down a path that was once your truth and no longer feels aligned. You don’t have to stick to something that no longer resonates and lights you up from your core. What you do have to do is listen to your heart. Trust your intuition & always follow that.” I’m so excited to begin this new chapter of my life, it’s yet another clean slate, fresh start, and chance to design my life exactly the way that I want it. Stay tuned, this should be interesting! We’ll always have LA. xoxo


7 Responses
  • meghanhattabaugh
    June, 2, 2018

    I love this!! Tbh I’ve been following you since you posted in the skinny confidential group on FB and I love your story! I actually live in AZ too right now and plan on making the big move to LA at some point in my life but I love getting others perspective and seeing that relationships and smaller intimate things matter more than a place that glitters and is bigger. Thank you for your input will definitely be reading from now on! PS how are you SO pretty!?!?

  • Sheila
    June, 3, 2018

    You touch my heart with your words you should be a journalist I love you.

  • Jill McLean
    June, 8, 2018

    Really loved reading this! It touched a chord with me as I live in Ireland and am always dreaming of moving to L.A. or anywhere with more open minded people, more opportunity but mostly for the sunshine! It’s great to read how much you learnt from your time in L.A. & I guess that’s the challenge in life, to truly appreciate what you have & know that you already have it all. Sometimes it takes a big move or life event for this realisation to set in! Much love from the emerald isle, Jill @thetanstylist

  • paige
    June, 12, 2018

    loved this post + the lessons you shared! so excited for you as you start your next chapter 🙂 xx paige

  • Candice
    June, 12, 2018

    I love this post and I can completely relate! I moved to LA at 19 from a small town in northern Canada and it was life changing in all the best ways, although I chose to leave. I remember it as being so empowering! Like you said, no judgment. Everyone is unapologetically themselves. And I loved the feeling of passion in the air. Everyone is there for a reason and are working their asses off for what they love <3

  • Tara
    June, 12, 2018

    Hi from one “Skinny” to another. I’m just getting around to reading this post, after you posted about it in the group, and I’m so excited for you! As someone who moved from Florida to California, I recognize a lot of the points you made. It’s definitely a different feel out there and I know first hand how difficult that can be on the soul. So so happy for you!

    Also, just a heads up, this post was a bit difficult to read. It’s a lot of text, in large paragraphs, with a small font size. It was difficult to read, but I was invested in your story because your writing is so engaging! Just something to think about for future posts :).

  • Julianne
    June, 13, 2018

    So interesting!! I had similar experience moving to another city. I only lasted 9 months (because husband and I fell pregnant) but it so good to be able to say I actually did it and appreciated it and then moved back to my home town. Experiences!!

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