Social media often portrays a life of luxury but in Colton Pappas’ case, that is quite the opposite. With a following over 20k on Twitter and 40k on Instagram (along with a couple viral tweets) he has only been honest with his audience. Which is coincidentally how I found his story.

 


After graduating from a small town in Arizona, Pappas had to choose – college or his dreams. His parents pushed for college but he knew that he loved acting and was actually decent at it having some success in AZ.

“When I got to my senior year in high school it seemed like college was the only option,” Pappas said. “I was like I don’t know, college just isn’t for me. Nothing I wanted to do needed a college degree.”

Screen Shot 2018 05 24 at 1.13.19 PM 227x300 - Feature Story: Following Your Dreams SucksAfter meeting an internet friend that offered him a room in LA he decided to pack up and move out with the small savings he had.

“I finally got there and saw that he lived in a one bedroom apartment with 8 other people,” Pappas said. ”It was a crazy living situation but I was already mentally prepared to sleep on the floor so I asked where I should put my bag.”

His “friend” then proceeded to tell him that the other roommates didn’t want him there and he couldn’t stay anymore. Not even for the night. Pappas then started his search at 1 AM for a parking lot to spend the night in.

“I found out really quickly that there is such a big homeless community in LA,” Pappas said. “All of the parking lots were guarded and I couldn’t find anywhere until I found this one Target that was open.”

Waking up the next morning Pappas found it hard to accept the reality he was living in. So he decided to just ignore his sad state and try to practice positive thinking and enjoy his first day in LA.

“I went throughout my day acting like a tourist and then all of the sudden it was 10 PM again and I realized I still didn’t have a place to stay,” Pappas said.

For two weeks this thinking continued and for two weeks he lived out of his car and was couch hopping. With no job, home and dwindling savings Pappas realized “I need to figure out my life.”

“I knew I couldn’t keep doing this and so I found an Airbnb for $750 a month which was a lot of my savings but I knew I couldn’t keep doing this,” Pappas said. “The place I found looked pretty nice and I figured for that price it must be good since in Arizona that kind of money would have bought me a rental house.”

That was not the case… A small one bedroom apartment with 6 bunk beds and 12 people was what he walked into. With having already paid he was stuck so the next step was to find a job. After applying everywhere he found two; Abercrombie and Nordstrom.

“I got really lucky, to be honest. I had applied everywhere and told them I had open availability which I realize now wasn’t the smartest thing to do,” Pappas said. “They must have thought I was the worst employee ever because I called off every other week between the two to make it work, which somehow I did.”

He realized that he had a lot of growing up to do and so over the next couple of months he just worked, made new friends, and slept (well that one is arguable.) He moved to another Airbnb he thought would be better because it was more expensive but was just as bad and two hours away from his jobs. Shortly after that, he met two people at a party who offered him a room in Downtown LA that they shared with one other person.

“I finally felt stable,” Pappas said “but the thing is that it still wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. They weren’t the cleanest but I got over it because I was in downtown LA and wasn’t crammed in some back room or sharing with 12 people.”

Everything was going well until the roommates got into a huge fight- then one day they just left with no warning.

“Because I was making more money now I didn’t mind paying the extra rent so I just gave my part of the split to the last roommate,” said Pappas.

Apparently, the other roommate did mind though and just like that he disappeared – with Pappas’ rent money.

“My name wasn’t on the lease so I didn’t care, but then one day the lights just went off.”

“My name wasn’t on the lease so I didn’t care, but then one day the lights just went off.”

During all of this, Pappas was cycling jobs like clothes in a laundry mat – retail, personal assistant, and social media jobs. At one point he got paid just to facetime people for his internet fame. After “grinding on social media” he had finally gotten to the point where he could quit the other jobs and just focus on his internet income. Welp, that didn’t last long either.

“I had a manager at that time and he was getting me my gigs online but one day I finally told him I was tired of not being authentic with my content – that was also the day he quit.”

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Not too long after his manager quit Pappas’ had a tweet go viral. (You probably know the one – a brother being so sweet on his sister that he dyed his hair purple just so she could do it too. (That is what I call a good brother.)

“My manager came back to me and said that I could post genuinely if I would take him back,” Pappas said. “That is when life started to turn around for me.”

It isn’t a fairytale ending but it is a real one.

He had a place to live (with a family friend he could rely on) and was making enough money freelancing online to pay the bills. This short story, written from an even shorter tweet, is the reality of following your dreams. Yes, it does suck but if you continue to “grind and stay positive” it will be worth it in the end.

THE Q&A

Jewels: If you could give a young person advice, what would it be?
Pappas: So many people think that following your dreams is easy or that it will just happen one day, however, there will be obstacles that show up no matter what. If it’s worth it though you will suck it up and make it through those obstacles.

Jewels: Would you ask for help if you could go back?
Pappas: Honestly, I wouldn’t. It was a hard couple of months but the change that I have seen within myself is worth it. I appreciate life more and I’m better at empathizing – just my whole outlook on life is better.

Jewels: Do you think about your actions before acting now?
Pappas: I try to do that with everything now. When I was just moving here I didn’t realize every action has an immediate and prolonged consequence. I kept thinking I was young and just wanted to enjoy it so I avoided it but now I realize it is so important to be cautious of my decisions, goals and time. Your time is just as important as your decisions.

Jewels: After reflecting, what was the most important lesson you learned?
Pappas: The thing I think about the most is the ability to put myself in other’s shoes. I had to flake so much in the beginning because I had to make rent. I realize now that if they can’t make it or pull through the probably have something going on. Money management too! I thought I had a concept of money back in high school but even this last weekend I paid $20 just for Chick Fil A.

Jewels: Why the tweet?
Pappas: My mom called me and told me she was proud of me. To hear her say she was proud of me made me feel so good. She was talking about a year ago versus today, about how different that moment in time is from where I am now. Then I began to realize if this is just one year imagine where I will be in another year.

Jewels: How is your acting career?
Pappas: It kind of sucks right now to be completely honest. It’s so weird too after moving to LA I realize more than ever that everyone is trying to make it. You can go to a fast food place and everyone who is working there is trying to act and become an actor. There is SO much competition. Social media is another tool for actors though. It’s still my end goal but I am exploring different routes to take. There is this new thing where they are doing Netflix Original’ that are just social media people! It is still my end goal though.


Make sure to follow Colton Pappas on Twitter and Instagram to keep him living in LA. Also ,I would like to take this moment to personally thank him for sharing his story with all of us. It can be hard to admit when things are hard but he is so genuine and authentic about his experience which is something you don’t see much of anymore.

Thanks for reading my friends and remember to…

Stay Social,

Jewels