I got back from Los Angeles on Friday and am finally starting to catch my breath. Wheeling my suitcases back through the door of my room at my parents’ house, I feel as if my west coast life never happened. Everything is in the exact same place I left it. The winter sweaters that I filed away on the top shelf of my closet, the framed photographs sitting on my bedside table, the last clean towel I left behind folded in the bathroom basket. It’s all there.
As I dip my head back into a cloud of pillows, I wonder if it was all a dream. Then my phone buzzes. Simba’s owner wants me to take her on a walk tomorrow at 6:00pm and Elway needs one at 7:00am. I instinctively swipe my thumb across the screen to accept my usual routes, but hesitate upon seeing an unusual detail tagged onto the end of the request: “This walk is 2,158 miles from your current location.” Okay Dorothy, it happened, but you’re not in Kansas anymore. Here we are, six short months later.
The Los Angeles chapter has officially come to a close.
In the past three weeks leading up to the move, I’ve cried. A lot. Sweat. A lot. Been thankful. A lot. And questioned what the heck I am doing with my life. A lot… all the while packing up suitcases and saying goodbye to a special place and its extraordinary people for what feels like the hundredth time. Everyone’s been asking me how I feel about being back in Chicago for a few weeks and subsequently heading to Seattle this fall. The short, sweet (and true) answer is, “great, super excited.” Other (also true) answers are: “I have no fricken idea!!!” and “I’m exhausted and confused” and “Just give me a hot sec to process all of this.” The last three plus years of my life have been one big, fat never-ending transition, and naively, I didn’t think the craziness would last this long.
I grew up surrounded by lots of examples of people who were really good at one thing and stayed with it for an entire career. Lawyers, teachers, bankers, marketers, doctors, dentists, nurses, engineers. They grew up where their parents grew up and raised their kids in the same place. Sure, there are plenty of people for whom this statement doesn’t apply, but this was my norm, and there’s nothing wrong with it. Honestly, I thought this was how my path would pan out, too. I believed that I would find the one thing that I wanted to do for the rest of my life in college, get a job doing it, and work towards becoming a master in said field for the next 40 years. Instead I was a French major turned salad/smoothie extraordinaire, turned PR intern, turned closet blogger, turned marketing coordinator, turned social media guru, turned start-up consultant, turned bakery operations specialist. Oh, and I’ve lived between Chicago, Washington DC, New York City, Los Angeles, and (almost) Seattle in three years. OMG. I just burst out laughing reading all of that back. WHAT A RIDE.
It’s taken me many months to accept and embrace the fact that the road I’m going down is an exception (at least for the moment) to the norm. But the truth is, a lot of people don’t live in the same city, stay at the same job, or have the same friends forever. Interests flip, passions shift, and people change. Most professionals don’t follow a steady, linear career path or determine what they like / are good at for years. No one has it all figured out. If you do, call me ASAP. What’s most important is that, no matter which path you pursue,
continue to listen, learn, adapt, and DO.
Right now, that’s what I’m asking of myself. Here is your permission (if you need it) to do the same. And, even though my unconventional path has led me on a wild goose chase through every major city in America, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that it’s okay to try new cities and jobs; it’s okay to follow your gut; and it’s especially okay if you change your mind or end up making mistakes along the way. Something a lot of wise folks have been telling me lately is, “Nothing is forever.” Moves are reversible, jobs are changeable, and (most) people are forgivable, especially when you’re young! So,
If you ever have the opportunity to try somewhere or something new,
A full blown move that lasts a couple of years? A weekend road trip to a place you’ve never been? A side hustle that you’ve been dreaming about starting? A class that you’ve always want to take? GO FOR IT. There’s never a better day than today. No matter what happens, your newfound knowledge, experience, and mistakes become a part of you and are assets that you will take with you wherever you go. Be brave and do YOU!