So you’ve got the best record ever at school and now you’re driving. You’ve finally escaped those miserable educational surroundings and you’re off to a new, exciting life in the big city. But there’s something familiar about the way you’re driving…

You’re in the habit of looking down at the road ahead of you, but all of a sudden, nothing seems familiar. You’ve never driven in a city before, so you don’t know how to behave. You wonder if you’ve gotten yourself into some kind of dangerous situation. Are you lost? Where are you going? Is this the right way? Should you be driving this way? Is this road safe or should you be taking another route?

You look down at your phone and notice that you’ve got a text message. A little bit of relief washes over you as you realize that someone is relying on you to get them home safely. You glance at the message again and notice that it’s not from a friend, but from your sibling. What are you going to do? You look down at the road and see a sign that says, “Welcome to Los Angeles.” And then it hits you: this is not what you were supposed to be doing. This is not how you escaped. This is not how you get home. You’re in Los Angeles now, you’ve somehow ended up in the wrong city, in the wrong country.

Your mind goes through all kinds of wild scenarios as you panic. Maybe you broke down and the only person who can help you is somewhere far away. Maybe the person you’re supposed to be meeting is waiting for you at another entrance to the city. Maybe there’s an accident on the road ahead and you need to find a place to pull over and wait for help to arrive. Maybe you’ve done all these things and are now far away from home with no idea how you got there or where you are. All you want is to make it back to your family and friends. Maybe tomorrow will bring clearer answers to all these questions.

How Did You Get Into This Mess?

Let’s take a step back for a second. What happened? How did you end up in this situation?

When you were younger, you wanted to be an actor. You grew up watching movies and TV shows and playing with your buddies outside in the street. One of these days, you’d imagine, you’d end up on the big screen and everyone would love you. You thought you had it all figured out. College was an interesting time. You finally went to the university of your dreams and met a lot of people who encouraged you to follow your dreams. You made some connections and at the end of your second year, you received a graduation present: a brand new car. It was only then that you began to wonder what would happen next. You looked at your parents and your older siblings and realized that there was no safety net. You were on your own. No one was going to give you a hand up; you were going to have to do it yourself.

You began to look for jobs, but there weren’t many that paid enough for you to make ends meet. You started driving for Lyft and Uber, making just enough to get by. You were in survival mode and doing whatever it took to make sure you had money to eat. You lived in fear of losing your job, of not being able to pay your bills. Then there was a recession and a lot of people lost their jobs. You managed to keep your job and were able to pay your bills on time, but you couldn’t stop thinking about the future. What was going to happen next? Were you going to be able to pay your car rent? Were you going to run out of gas? Were you going to be able to eat? You were working hard, but you were struggling. The stress of not knowing what was going to happen next was getting to you. You began to wonder if this was what life was going to be like for you forever. You knew you didn’t want to live like this, that you had to do something. So you decided to pack up and move to LA. You had heard about the large number of jobs in the city and decided that this was your chance to get out of the rut you were in. You figured that if you could just make enough to get by, you’d have the freedom to explore your options. Maybe you’d be able to get an agent and begin to explore the many ways you could make your mark on the world. Maybe you’d be able to live your best life and make your family and friends proud of you. You believed everything would work out for the best.

What you didn’t expect was how difficult it would be to make a living in LA. You’d imagined that all you had to do was show up and people would flock to your side. It didn’t work that way. Getting jobs wasn’t easy. You struggled for years, while working occasionally, trying to eek out a living. Finally, you decided to try something new and began to network online. You signed up for various social media platforms and began to use your voice to promote yourself. You began to look for more ways to make money and then you saw an ad on Facebook for a dog walker. You were intrigued and decided to give it a go. Walking dogs was something you’d always wanted to try. You began to get quite the reputation as a dog walker in your neighborhood and were able to pick up a few clients along the way. You liked what you were doing and decided to make it your full-time job. You continued to explore ways to make money online, looking at any opportunity that might arise. You were always on the lookout for ways to make a little extra cash. Your parents were supportive of your decisions, even if they didn’t approve of your lifestyle. They knew that this was part of the plan and helped you out whenever they could.

Why Is Everyone Against Me?

So you’re driving along in this strange new city and all of a sudden, you encounter a roadblock. You’re not sure what’s going on, but it doesn’t matter because you’re in an unfamiliar area and there are people around you who do not look like they are friendly. You think to yourself, “Well, this is strange. I’ve never had this problem before. Sure, there are some who don’t like me, but I’ve never had a problem getting to where I’m going.” You begin to wonder if there’s something wrong with you. Are you a bad person? Are you doing the wrong thing? Are you making the wrong choices? You’ve got your foot on the gas and you want to go home. You need to decide what’s more important to you: your own safety or getting where you need to go? Home or freedom? Before the day is out, you’ve managed to work your way back into the good graces of the people you’ve met. Your only goal now is to get back home as safely as you can so you can start over again. You have your suspicions about why people are treating you this way, but you choose to not let it bother you. You’re a strong, determined woman, who knows what she’s doing. You’re not afraid of anyone or anything. You’ve made your decision and you’re not going to look back. You’re going to face this problem head-on and figure out a way to make it work for you. You’re going to cross each bridge as you come to it and you’re going to keep your head up. Don’t let anyone or anything bring you down.