When my friend Teddy and I first started discussing moving to LA from New York, our friends were pumped for us. One friend, Pete, even discussed joining. We excitedly hashed out logistics on cocktail napkins: the itinerary, how much to save, and where we’d live in LA.
Something funny happened, though, as our departure day drew closer: our friends’ excitement disappeared. Any positivity dissipated. Instead of encouragement, we started hearing a great deal of “concern”:
“Do you have enough money?”
“You don’t have jobs.”
“Be realistic — it’s tough out there.”
There’s a word for people who behave this way: haters. Haters disguise themselves using words like “concern” and “worry” but don’t be fooled.
(Are you going through this now? Do close friends and family constantly remind you of their “concerns?” Don’t worry, I’ll tell you how to handle them. Keep reading.)
A week later, I got a text message from Pete:
“I know I have to get out of here but I can’t find a way to make it work. Maybe a year when you guys are settled in and I still haven’t found what I’m looking for, something could be worked out.”
The more real LA became, the less support we had from our friends.
I think because to a degree, it played on their insecurities.
Not about moving to LA specifically, but anytime we see others trying to make a change — any change — in their lives, it makes us feel insecure about what we aren’t doing.
It’s like when a group goes out to eat, and everyone orders burgers, fries, and beers… except for the one person who orders a salad, dressing on the side, and a water. How would the others react?
“Are you on a diet or something…? Is that all you’re eating? I could never eat just a salad… I worked hard all day, I deserve this…”
What’s even crazier is that haters never go away! I’ve been living in Los Angeles for four years, and I still hear:
“Are you famous yet?”
“Did you get a real job yet?”
“What’s the plan? What are you gonna do for the rest of your life?”
Is This What They Were “Concerned” About?
My Current Life in LA…
It’s 4:30 p.m. on a Friday as I write this. All day the temperature has hovered around 80 degrees with no humidity. Most days, I don’t commute to work — I’m a writer’s assistant to an author who’s been a great mentor, whose name I’d only see across the spines of bestsellers and up on the screen, if I didn’t move to LA.
In an hour, I’ll skateboard over to a new dive bar to get drinks with a few friends. Some are in the entertainment industry, but not all. I’ll meet my friend Teddy there later, who went to the Venice pier to go fishing at sunset.
So is this what our friends were so “concerned” about four years ago?
Now, it’s easy to look back and shrug off haters and doubters. In the moment, though, it’s depressing. Why can’t your friends and family be more supportive? How do you handle the negativity? I’ll get to that, but first let’s look at…
Why Do Haters Hate In the First Place?
I touched on it briefly, but remember that people’s criticism of you (or your decisions) isn’t about you. It’s about them. It’s about their insecurity.
Most people DO want to make positive changes to their lives. It could be moving to LA, but more likely it’s going to the gym, changing how they save or spend money, or eating healthier. They want to change… but they don’t like the discomfort of change.
And seeing other people go through the discomfort, and making progress, reminds them of what they’re NOT doing. This makes them feel insecure, and they deal with it by wrapping their haterade around expressions like “I’m just concerned” or “I’m worried about you, that’s all.”
Remember, it’s not that they WANT to see you fail – because they don’t.
What they want is to feel better about themselves. Them hating on you (and your decision to move to LA) isn’t about you…
Except for when it is.
You make it about yourself when you let their words bother you… because you’re worried it might be true…
“How are you going to find a job in this economy?”
“What are you going to do when you run out of money?”
“Do you really believe you’re cut out for LA?”
How could you answer these questions with 100% certainty?
It’s impossible, but that’s what haters do. So it’s important to remember how easy it is to criticize and doubt and armchair quarterback other people’s lives. It’s easy to prey on someone’s insecurities, especially when they’re making a life-changing event.
It’s much more difficult to ignore the haters… but here are some tactics that make it easier.
How to Haterproof Yourself
1. Be Prepared
Remember what I said about “most people?” Most people don’t like change. Most people feel insecure when they see others taking steps to change their lives for the better. Rather than admit that, most people will tear others down to build themselves up.
If you’re on this site, planning your move to Los Angeles and ready to take action with your life, you’re not “most people” by definition. However, that’s who you’re surrounded by. It is inevitable that people will hate on your decisions. If you know this, you won’t be caught off guard when they confront you with “their concerns” about “your choices.”
2. Know Who Matters
The people who matter are the people who “get it.” You can ignore everyone else.
“But everyone’s entitled to their opinion!” a hater would respond. Of course they are… just as you are equally entitled to disregard that opinion.
Surround yourself with the people who “get it” in your life. The few friends and family members who support and encourage you. The 2% or 3% who also hear their calling and decide to move to LA. And of course, the IMTLA community!
Ignore the rest.
3. Flip the Script
Author Neil Strauss goes through an editing process he calls “haterproofing” before he publishes anything. He’ll read his work through the lens of a hater and poke holes in the content. Then he invests time in “haterproofing” his work… before haters get the chance to attack.
What are your haters saying about YOU and your move to Los Angeles, and how can you “haterproof” yourself?
“The economy is awful right now. How do you expect to get a job?”
“You should give up on moving there… it’s a pipe dream.”
“The competition’s tough. People in LA are cut throat. You’ll never last.”
I used to try to reason, or explain my logic, but I quickly realized that didn’t work. Then, I started “flipping the script,” which stopped haters in their tracks. Here’s how it works:
A hater shares with you the latest unemployment numbers, drop in the stock market, or other macro-level statistics that are irrelevant to your situation. Then he or she asks you a question about your plans, explaining they’re just “concerned.”
Instead of trying to reason with them (what I used to do), here’s what you say:
“You know what? I don’t know how it’ll work out. I’m actually a bit nervous. If you were in my situation, what would you do? I’d love to get your advice.”
What did we do there by flipping the script on them?
Instead of putting ourselves in a corner by trying to logically explain the future (impossible) we:
- Told the truth (“I don’t know”)
- Admitted vulnerability (“I’m actually a bit nervous”)
- Asked for advice (“What would you do?”)
By flipping the script, you’ve reframed the entire context of the conversation. Like a judo master, you’ve used their haterade to your advantage. Now, instead of thinking “man, moving to LA is a terrible idea.” they’re thinking “Well, it might be terrible, but how would I make it work if it were me?”
Dealing With Haters Is the First Battle
What’s so important to you in Los Angeles? What is it that makes you consider packing up and moving out, and keeps you coming back to IMTLA to learn about buying a used car, navigating the DMV, or where to watch sports games?
- Do you want sunshine (nearly) every day, and a coast worth of beaches in your backyard?
- Do you want to pursue your art, and be surrounded by people equally as passionate as you?
- Or do you hear another calling, one that beckons you to finally make the move?
When I first considered moving to LA, I dealt with my fair share of haters. Then I arrived, and faced new challenges, each more visceral than the next: no apartment, no connections, no job. I faced many tough battles, will face many more to come… and so will you. But the very first battle is one with the haters.
So I want to hear from you, in the comment section below, how are you dealing with your haters? What EXACTLY are their “concerns,” and how are you going to respond?
Remember: it doesn’t matter how many people get it. What matters is you surround yourself with people who do.
And we do.
PS. Thanks for reading this far! If you found any value in this post, you can follow my adventures in LA over at my site www.fightingbroke.com, where I discuss how to build your career in Hollywood through marketing and productivity hacks. Cheers!