In January 2010, I sat in my car with Miley Cyrus’s Party in the USA turned up high, and drove from Chicago to Boston to start a new life in a state I’d never been to, 1,800 miles away from everyone I knew.
Of course, prior to that, I spent 30 minutes crying my eyes out as I drove, having just said goodbye to my Dad, who I felt heartbroken over leaving.
It was a very gutsy move.
At that time in my life, I had been out of college for about 2.5 years, I was living at home with my dad, and was working a job that wasn’t going anywhere and made me pretty depressed. I felt like I had to get out of the Midwest and see what life was like elsewhere. My boyfriend at the time, C, had always wanted to live in Boston, and I figure that weather-wise, it would probably be pretty similar to Chicago, so I was game to move there with him. We both started looking for jobs in Boston, and I found one first, so C helped me pack up the belongings that fit in my car and drove out with me to help me get settled.
There are a lot of details I could get into that would make this a very long story, but the essence of it was: the first months were really rough. I was living in a suburb of Boston, in an apartment with paper-thin walls and loud families, in the dead of winter, with no friends to hang out with. I cried every day. I wanted to move home every day. But something in me – probably pure stubbornness – told me to stick it out. C still hadn’t found a job in Boston so I was by myself (but really, once he did move to Massachusetts, we broke up pretty quickly – not a very good relationship!).
And for anyone who’s ever been to both Boston and Chicago, they really are incredibly different cities. Boston people are not as friendly as Midwesterners. They’re a tough crowd to break! Plus the transportation system still has some major growing up to do, and I sold my car after awhile because their driving gave me mini heart attacks. Plus, well, I couldn’t afford to have a car in a city with such high rent. On and on.
After awhile, I decided to move to the actual city of Boston, and eventually got a different job, and things slowly started to look up. I started meeting people, became great friends with one of my first roommates, liked my job at a college and started working on my master’s degree. Even if it was a difficult path, I had carved out a life all by myself. I also discovered a great CrossFit gym, where I made friends that I hope to have for the rest of my life. Plus I was able to hop on a boat and be on an island in 30 minutes! For a Midwesterner, that is simply amazing!
Despite the life I was creating in Boston, a part of me knew that Chicago was still home. So in early 2013, when my sister told me that she was pregnant with her first baby, I knew that was my cue to come home. I took a gamble, and decided to move home when my lease was up in the Fall, regardless of my job status. Dad was willing to let me back into his house with open arms, and when I told my Boston employer I was moving back home, they asked me to work for them remotely for a few months. Fortune favors the bold, people!
So now I’m back in Chicago, living in my own place, working a 9-5 while running a side business that I’m hoping to make full-time, and I have an adorable nephew and a dog I adopted 6 months ago. (Plus a Southwest credit card that lets me earn miles to fly back to beautiful Boston whenever I want). Life can be stressful, but it’s worth the patience and the work.
My journey to becoming an adult, and to becoming me, involved making gutsy moves and getting way the heck out of my comfort zone, but it also brought incredible experiences, emotional strength, independence, and optimism. During tough times, I think, “Hey, I survived Boston by myself, I can do this too!”
That, my friends, is how I got gutsy.
Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy. This post is my entry for Jessica Lawlor’s Get Gutsy Essay Contest. To get involved and share your own gutsy story, check out this post for contest details and download a free copy of the inspiring Get Gutsy ebook.
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