A year and three months ago, I was living at home following the same routine every morning: Wake up at 7:00am, navigate my way down from the top bunk of my bunkbed, shuffle into the kitchen half-asleep and pop open my laptop to LinkedIn.
As I waited for the briefcase-marked jobs page to load day after day, I would squeeze my eyes shut, partly to wipe away the film of sleep crusted in the corners of my lids but mainly to brace myself for what I might find. Would I see any responses from the 10 jobs I applied to the day before? Would I find any promising roles in the queue that I could apply for today? Would I end up becoming a dog walker for some bougie ex-Hollywood star (definitely wasn't opposed to this)? But most importantly, would I ever make it out to Los Angeles?
By this point, those of you who have been following along probably know that John, my boyfriend of 5+ years, lives in Los Angeles, and I live in New York City. Yes, you read that correctly:
John = Los Angeles
Grace = New York
But no, this wasn't how the whole post-grad thing was supposed to unfold. Believe it or not, John and I really *like* each other, so living 3,000 miles apart wasn't exactly our first choice. To make a long story short, I had always dreamed about moving to the west coast, and family vacations to California over the years only reinforced my belief that a health nut, hike-doin', Vans-wearing, avocado-lover like myself would be quite at home in the Golden State.
It didn't take much to convince John - Mr. "Anything below 60 degrees is freezing" - of the same. One too many "winters" (a.k.a. October - May) in the Windy City will do that to a person, especially when you've spent a majority of that time outdoors training for sports. So, after a few Sunday strolls through Georgetown and late night chats in the Tombs senior year, it was set: J & G would pack up camp and head to LA after graduation.
It wasn't long before we realized that the road to the west coast wasn't all beaches and sunshine. In the process, I was forced to make some rather gutsy decisions, which included turning down my competitive full time job offer in NYC. It wasn't going to place me on the same team of incredible people I worked with during the summer of my internship and they didn't have an LA office. I even tried finagling my way into working remotely but it turns out that wasn't an option as I was part of a "special" program and HR didn't want me missing all the yuppie schmoozing and networking jazz. So, I did the unimaginable and politely declined. Yes, my unemployed classmates thought I was crazy, and a few considered asking my boss if they could take my place. I, on the other hand, had #noregrets.
Seeing as the Big Apple was officially a thing of the past, I put all my energy during senior fall towards applying for a creative role at what I considered to be my dream company. Simultaneously, John began the process of trying to transfer his full-time consulting offer to the LA office.
The good news? John's efforts resulted in success.
The bad news? Mine did not.
I was frustrated with the outcome, but certainly not disheartened. There were bound to be plenty of other creative roles out there. It was LA, after all. I decided to take the spring to focus on my new job in communications (I graduated college a semester early & got a full-time job in DC for the spring so I could still be with my friends during the last few months of college) and enjoy the remainder of senior year. Keep in mind, I wasn't trying to work in investment banking or consulting, so most of the roles I was looking at were for immediate start. Unless I wanted to pack my bags in the middle of senior week, I would have to resume my search in the summer.
And that's exactly what I did. Fast forward a few blissful senior spring months later to where I began this whole story... the summer of 2017... plopped in front of my laptop, endlessly scrolling through LinkedIn. It wasn't that there weren't any jobs out there, because there were tons. It was more about the fact that I didn't want to settle for something that wasn't right for me just to move out to Los Angeles to be with John.
You don't want to be with John anymore?!?! (Insert sobbing-face emojis here) Calm yourself, people. That's NOT what I said. I simply stated that I wasn't going to take something I didn't really want just so we could be together. Please keep reading.
And that's when I got the call from my old boss. He had a role available on his team (remember, these were the people that I wanted to work with before), and it was outside of the "special" program (so no schmoozin' necessary for me). It was in social media… perfect! It was a global role… amazing! The only problem? It was in New York City... 3,000 miles, a 3-hour time difference, and a 6+ hour flight from Los Angeles. PERRRRRFECT.
I'm going to cut to the chase here since you all know how this ends:
I took the job. I moved to New York City.
It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made, and, until a few weeks ago, there wasn't a day that went by where I didn't question why the heck I chose to live a life away from the person who brings me more happiness and meaning and fulfillment than anyone I've ever known. What in the WORLD was I thinking?
Well, I've had a lot of time - 417 days to be exact - to reflect. My fancy university and no-really-do-what-your-heart-desires-but-if-it's-not-investment-banking-or-law-school-or-med-school-we-will-totally-judge-you small town told me that I should probably accept the job because it was the SMART thing to do (I work for a corporate bank, btw). My gut, on the other hand, steered me towards New York City because she (yes, my gut is a #girlboss) realized that I really needed time to figure things out on my own for a bit.
I want to quickly add that John and I have always prided ourselves on having a super self-sufficient relationship, but Miss Independent over here clearly wanted to take that to a whole new level (sorry, JB!). Look, I haven’t figured it all out yet (peep my earlier post), but if I'm being honest, I really needed this year. I didn’t know why at the the time, but something was telling me that I had so much more to learn about myself. And that's 1000% okay, especially because John realized that he, too, had a lot to learn about himself!
This has truly been one of the most difficult years of my life, and I've spent most days wishing I didn't have to do it without John, but I knew I had to. I had to take some time to get to know myself. Like REALLY get to know myself. No safety net, no free shoulder to cry on when the going gets tough. And 417 days later, I can confidently say that I am happier, more optimistic, and MORE AWAKE than I ever knew was possible.
John and I, by the way, are stronger, better, and more in love (yes, barf) than ever before. New co-workers and friends and communities on both coasts. A proud owner of a $115 "Cali-York" t-shirt. More airline and car miles and less savings than we hoped. Hundreds of sleepless nights and a bajillion dropped calls later. We’ve tackled it all, even your shitty wi-fi. I’m so lucky to have met you, and I'm even prouder to have truly gotten to know you over the past five and a half years. I know we have a lifetime of togetherness to look forward to at the other end of this, but for now, thanks for letting me take this crazy journey to myself 3,000 miles away.