This town is beginning to eat you alive.

His words pierce through you, despite the fact you’re certain he was looking for an easy excuse. “I don’t want to follow you to California.” Though you assured him you’ll likely be in town for several more years, as you would prefer to finish paying off your students loans first and are actually managing that goal surprisingly well, he apparently sees no point in seeing where things can go. He cannot see you for who you are today because he is aware that the you of tomorrow may not be here.

Really, you might as well be dead already.

You know better than to pack your bags and head to California. Breaking into Hollywood is a pipe dream, and your mind has always been set on the indie circuit anyway. But, hey, if you can manage to get into one of the top screenwriting programs, why not check it out for a couple years and try to network?

But no one here seems to understand the big ‘if.’ You try to explain that both programs you would consider have an acceptance rate lower than Harvard Law. There is a five percent chance you can manage to claw your way in. And, since you have no other reason to leave this town, that’s a 95% chance you stay right where you are.

But that slim, nearly hopeless chance of success? You’re a ghost. You live here but you don’t, transient despite your enduring presence. You moved here in 2011, and honestly, you wouldn’t mind dying here. Even in your perfect future, you imagine moving back to a quiet town like this once you have truly established yourself. At this stage of your life, only one thing could reasonably convince you to leave.

After all, your main goal in life is to continue writing. This project alone is proof that you can write anywhere you want. It might not be your ‘dream project,’ but maybe it is? Maybe you just want to get your story out there, and the only reason you have put so much focus on making it as a screenwriter is because you personally prefer film to other forms of media? Perhaps these people see staying here as a sign that you have given up, when you honestly don’t see it that way in the slightest.

But if this is how they perceive you, you are gone already. Your life has been put on hold until you achieve your dreams. You’re ‘California-bound’ and suffocating under the weight of that label that has been so carelessly inflicted upon you by your closest friends.

Perhaps they think this is encouragement. That denying you anything meaningful will push you harder toward your ‘ultimate’ goal. Maybe they don’t notice that the more you are pushed, the more you view your artistic pursuits as a negative aspect of your life. Art has become conflict. You are certain no one wants to put any meaningful emotional investment into you because they are already living in the future where you have left, and you sometimes regret ever speaking of your higher aspirations.

The town you have called home for several years is slowly being corrupted into a pit of loneliness. You want people to see who you are, right here and now.

But they see through you.

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