My Inciting Incident

847dd89d6ad03ed9c73623295df44c48This past Friday was my 5 year anniversary of moving to Los Angeles (LA).

My move was prompted by my desire to further my career in the entertainment industry. In college, once I decided to actually pursue this career (versus dream about it), I knew LA would be in my future.

The year before I moved was one of the best years of my life. I worked continually from project to project, I got several recommendations for shows and I was finally in networks of working professionals that could mentor me and help me get to the next level. I was comfortable.

The further I moved down that path, the more I realized that I could only go so far before I’d reached a stale mate. That realization made comfortable no longer comfortable. I wanted more, I knew I could go the distance and I knew the distance wasn’t possible where I lived. To move forward, I stepped back and pulled out of my industry completely. I got a steady job to save money so that I could take what in hindsight I now call a “leap of faith”.

My first year here was amazing. I moved with a job already lined up and I was blessed that my dream was working out as planned. Each day felt like a dream as I passed by iconic symbols of Hollywood. I made it! I dreamed this dream for so long. I worked from show to show, each got bigger and bigger, until I found myself on the biggest movie of my career (at the time) in only my second year out here. It was a high profile movie, with a high profile, notable director and many a-list actors, but my dream started to slowly unravel.

Working as much as I did from the start, made it hard to make friends with people outside of work and it took a toll on me. I was reaching burnout and the more I started to experience the industry, the more I started to miss the simplicity of the shows that I worked on in previous years.

Toward late summer of my second year out here I was living on autopilot. Something was missing, but I did not have the awareness to know that something was missing or even identify it. At the time, I longed to create, write and study improv but I had no time. I started dating someone, who worked in my industry and wanted to write. We looked at alternative careers to allow us the time and energy to write. Before we could settle into a relationship, he broke up with me a week before my birthday (which is this month). He was Breakeven pt. III and my inciting incident.

An inciting incident in screenwriting is the moment at the beginning of a movie where the main character’s life gets set off balance. For example, in the Wizard of Oz, the inciting incident is when Dorthy’s house get’s up rooted by the hurricane. The breakup made me realize that I didn’t just want my career anymore, I also wanted marriage and the option to have my own family. (This was a huge realization for me because I never wanted marriage or a family.)

That week I decided to focus all my energy on balancing my life because the life I was living wasn’t working for me. I no longer wanted to dream about creating, I wanted to create. I decided to focus the coming year on my mind, body and soul. I would study improv, practicing yoga and meditate daily. I also planned to nurture my creativity beyond improv by taking any art or writing class that I found. Each of these practices came together to deepen my spirituality and took on a life of it’s own.

My third year out here I found my voice (which is another inciting incident). My voice is what I was missing and I may not have found it, if I choose to continue to live my life on autopilot. (Mindful Monday #31 – Voice)  This year has been very challenging, but it has all been necessary to clear out anything in my life that can inhibit me from thriving. It’s this string of experiences that has come full circle. My series on breakups led me to see this full circle moment, which is pointing me to another full circle moment which I will write about next week.

What is an inciting incident that you’ve had in your life? I’d like to hear it. :)