What is a Role Model? Not too long ago, we decided that it wasn't enough to cast fashion models based on comp cards and height. We wanted to showcase the stories of real people, who are brave enough to wear their label. Josh is one of those Role Models. He's also an actor in LISTEN: The Movie. Here's his story:
If you asked me to write about mental illness a few years ago, I would have thought you were calling me crazy. The thing that I never realized (and in all honesty that I was never told) was that mental illness was something that everyone goes through.
One of the most difficult things I’ve had to go through was leaving Pennsylvania, the place where my entire life was, to pursue a career in acting in Los Angeles.
The first few months that I lived in Los Angeles, I was surrounded by fellow students who were all part of the ‘Study Away’ program that I was also part of. With that said, it meant that it all had to end eventually. Once the semester ended, as anticipated, everyone left to finish school back in Philadelphia. I stayed and continued to pursue acting. I expected the journey to be difficult but I didn’t know the half of it. Such as life. So, when I was feeling down, all I had to do was call my girlfriend of 3 years (who lived back in Pennsylvania) and everything would be okay. But unfortunately, a few months later we broke up and in a city filled with millions of people, I felt completely alone.
This is about the time I was at my lowest…literally. I was sleeping on my manager’s assistant’s floor while I’d cry about my ex-girlfriend and missing home. I was blaming myself for not being able to handle it, which in turn made me bottle everything up inside. I didn’t think I could handle the journey, so I started looking up flight tickets back home.
The next day, I got lunch with my talent manager to talk about the business and such. We got to the restaurant and right away he could sense something was wrong. I told him that I was thinking about going home for the summer and that I’d be back in a few months. He was very supportive and if you know my manager, you’d know that he loves talking. But this time was different. I think he knew I was going through some rough times because all he did was listen to me rant for what must have been close to an hour. He just sat there listening to every word I was saying. By the end of the lunch I felt as if a large animal (for the sake of understanding my ridiculous writing, a weight) was lifted off my shoulders. It felt comforting that someone could support my decision for nothing in return.
On the walk back to the office, he said something that’s stuck with me through the years. He said, “If you leave this town, understand that most people don’t come back.” He really didn’t want me to leave. Those words stuck with me two years later. To me, going home meant that I would yet again give up on something I loved. I couldn’t do that. I needed to stand for something in my life.
From that point on, I realized that I did have someone that cared for me and understood me. It made Los Angeles feel a little more like home just from the simple gesture of listening.
I still deal with depression but I’ve learned that once you recognize it, you can cope with it. Life will always be bumpy so long as you see it that way. At least, that’s how I view it.
You can connect with Josh on twitter @joshpafchek
Photo by Jacob Rushing