My Mid-Life Crisis Is Tossing Me Back to My Parents
I left Los Angeles for good this time and there’s no looking back. In a way this final chapter signals the beginning of the unknown and that’s refreshingly scary. I’ve been dreading this period of my life virtually all my life — and the reasons are sealed in the dreams that we wish would come true — even if they’re not mandated.
I’m old as fuck and and as such — there is no excuse for the unyielding self-indulgence that began when I believed that in order to be anything special — I had to be rooted in the cities that typically host vibrant expectations.
When I turned twenty-four — I boarded the Greyhound and headed for The Big Apple — and the itinerary was filled with the hope that my youthful good looks and uncanny ability to take heaps of well-intentioned abuse would result in spectacularly enviable editorial gigs and a deluxe apartment in the sky.
The latter was all I was able to accomplish in the twenty-plus years that I roamed the jungle of primal glory — that rotted my guts from the inside out — before placing back them in with casual negligence. Instead of the posh assignments and fashioned cubicles with tacked on images of my swirling ambition — I ended up zig zagging from one menial job to the next — just to ensure that I wouldn’t starve to death.
Lesson №1: Don’t move to New York City on a whim and prayer — especially if you’re solely responsible for your income and overall maintenance.
My beloved parents were not supportive of my drastic move to NYC right after college — and recommended that I remain in Kansas City, Missouri to pursue my master’s degree. I was too restless and eager to prove them wrong at all costs — and while I have zero regrets — I have reached the age when I’m able to look back and mock the mistakes I made without overdosing on self-pity.
Once my thirtieth birthday rolled around — I made the decision to hightail it to Los Angeles. The reasons why weren’t as honorable and were mainly superficial. I got the urge to replicate the the breeziness of the West Coast through the characters on The L Word and the spiritedness of Entourage and of course Californication.
I truly believed that if New York hated me so much — then LA would strive to make it up to me. I wasn’t disappointed. Within months of my arrival — I secured multiple interviews at E! and even had the pleasure of witnessing budding talent Joel McHale enter his realm of success. I enjoyed a short but sweet internship at a production company — founded by the late John Daly — who produced the first Terminator movie as well as the classic — Hoosiers. And then I became a regular at a handful of notable talent agencies where I ran into stars like Tom Cruise — who is tinier than you imagine. I also had the pleasure of congratulating actor Tom Sizemore who stormed through reception (high as a kite) to happily announce his freedom from his well-documented sins.
Despite the ammunition of still being relatively young and positioned in ways that previously alluded me — I still made the unthinkable and senseless decision of going back to the scene of the crime. I left Los Angeles because I desperately missed New York and like that ex-boyfriend who treats you like shit because you’re used to accommodating the madness — I needed more evidence of my unworthiness.
Returning to NYC in the spring of 2006 — refocused my goals as I shifted from starving artist to determined bread-winner. I wanted to conquer the city in a different way this time. Since, the editorial landscape was undergoing a symbolic renovation — I drafted my entry into the corporate sector by temping at Barclays in the summer before bulldozing my way into a permanent role at JPMorgan Private Bank.
The story behind my hire at JPMorgan is pretty dramatic. I basically performed my own background check after I realized that the fabricated story of still being employed at a company I abruptly left months ago was likely to kick me out of the running.
I was stationed at Bank of America at the time — and the day that my nameplate was delivered — was the afternoon that the call came in and I was forced to verify the information I falsified. It was a resounding success — and days later — the offer was official.
My seven-year career as an executive assistant in an environment that was potently against my artistic vibes was bearable because for the first time ever — I was able to eat my cake have too. I spent the days, processing due diligence forms for the descendants of IBM and 1–800-Flowers and in the evenings — I worked diligently on my newly-installed website — while covering high-profile events.
Then came the realization of that “deluxe apartment in the sky” at a zip code that I claimed with disbelief and gratitude. The economic crisis of 2008 left many bereft and severely handicapped, but I was amongst the lucky ones who actually benefited from all the chaos. I moved into the building of my dreams with a view that would make any New Yorker green with envy.
Three years later — it was hard to ignore the challenges of selling my soul for the sake of maintaining the momentum of a balancing act that no longer felt like a stunning feat.
I wanted to write all the time — and I was tapped out of all the incentives that were preventing this from happening.
In the fall of 2014 — against my parents’ wishes — I headed to New Orleans — after an old friend who hoarded the secret that she was an inconsolable hoarder — encouraged my need to try something new and inspiring. Four months later I was back in New York, frustrated and frothing in disillusionment.
My perfect plan to earn a decent living as a full-time writer was falling apart at the seams and I was back in hustle mode — as a temp where it all began — Barclays.
In late 2015 — I was triggered by the pangs of an early mid-life crisis that threw me into panic mode — as I contemplated the closeness of my mortality and measured it against damning empty promises to myself.
Lesson №2: Never age because it makes you crazy.
I ran back to LA and this time — the joyride simply never commenced. My arrival wasn’t as celebratory as it had been a decade ago and it soon became abundantly clear that I was chasing after a dream that died the moment I gave up.
Even the landscape of opportunities were eaten alive by the fact that my trade of choice was no longer a reliable means of expression. My contract job at ABC Digital ended as soon as it started and then I went back for more and experienced yet and another unceremonious exit. The gig at The Hollywood Reporter worked me to the bone and I ended up resigning a day after the elections — when it became clear that I needed to be at least fifteen years younger to compete with the roving Millennials in my mist. The following summer of 2017 was spent recycling content like the bot I swore I would never be.
All the while my raging hormones left me exasperated and vulnerable to the elements that condemned any attempt at mental relief or stimulation. I was drinking more than usual and eating shitty food. The effects of my destructive disposition was glaringly clear when my newfound obsession —Medium — chose to document me for their Noteworthy series.
Everyone raved about it, but I was more consumed with my unrecognizable template — as well as the defeated gaze in my eyes as I tried but failed to convince myself — that I was contentedly in control.
My parents could hear it my voice. They encouraged me to leave LA and move back east — specifically Maryland — where they dwell with my two younger brothers. My siblings regard me with practiced caution — due to my trailblazing inconsistencies as I’ve spent my entire adult life — running away from the responsibilities that are normally assigned to the eldest child of Nigerian parents.
I never wanted to be saddled with the burden of living an ordinary life — and the only way to avoid that was to be stationed in places that would give me the assurance of never stumbling down that road.
Lesson №3: You carry the essence of you wherever you go, which means you can make a life anywhere and make it as fabulous as you are.
My fledging mid-life crisis has tossed me back to my parents and I’m trying not to freak out. This is the stage of my existence when I’m supposed to be seamlessly juggling a well-choreographed career — and the duties of mother and wife. Instead — I’m back to my roots and the quivering uncertainty of what will become of me — as I re-dedicate my self to my aging parents and the task of re-introducing the sister and aunt that my brothers and nieces still don’t know very well.
And maybe that’s really what life is all about.
It’s not the accolades or reassurances from bundles of followers who create the orgasmic algorithms we’ve re-organized as the religion of mankind. I will never be the superstar that soars with the click of Instagram stories and the filtered posts that illustrate the varied ways I’m sharing my #bestlife.
I spent the best years of that life searching for something that doesn’t exist — because I believed in a formula that was always extinct. The brands that I believed in are no longer held in high-esteem and thanks to Medium’s life saving measures — I have learned to rely on my instincts as a writer without the pressure of strategical armor.
I’m threading the needle repeatedly and marveling each time it works and when it doesn’t I pace myself to get it just right. The race is over and I’m settling into a lifestyle that would’ve been intolerable back when being writer meant ascending and descending the halls of nobility.
I’m starting anew with the backdrop of loved ones propping me up and that’s anything but a crisis. It’s peace.