Three Years Ago Today

Three years ago, I made a big change that would pave the way for more big changes.

After living in D.C. for nearly seven years, I left.

In late 2007, a job I had loved very much soured very quickly for me with new leadership. In January 2008, I left that job. I freelanced for a few months and looked for a job in D.C., but my heart just wasn’t in it. After a few years as a political reporter and editor, I was burnt out. It was the height of presidential primary season, but that didn’t excite me any more. I set up meetings with editors at all the major political publications in D.C., but when nothing worked out there, I can’t say I was too disappointed.

On March 2, 2008, I took my first tentative step and listed my apartment on Craig’s List to see if it would even be possible to move. I took a temporary job working for a political communications consultant for the month of March, a job which my heart was not in in the least.

On March 30, 2008, I showed a man my apartment. He was interested, and so we agreed that I would move out on May 1, and he would move in.

So that I could begin the process of moving to NYC.

I left my friends.

I left the city where I had formed most of my adult memories.

I left the city where I went to college and got my first job(s) after college.

I left what was comfortable.

I spent the month of April 2008 tying up loose ends, which involved some errands, but mostly involved eating and drinking my way through the District of Columbia. (I am fairly sure I drank my weight in Oyamel margaritas that month. Yum…)

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From my going-away party.

D.C. is a great place for some, but it wasn’t for me. From the day I moved there in August 2001 to begin college, until the day I decided to move, a part of my mind was always in NYC. I wanted to work for a consumer magazine, not a political magazine. I wanted everything NYC had to offer. I wanted to live closer to my family. So why did I stay somewhere I wasn’t completely happy for so long?

Because I was happy enough. I had plenty of friends, and I was generally busy.

Busy doing things other people wanted to do. I had no hobbies of my own, and so I never really felt fulfilled outside of work–which is why I poured my heart and soul into my work and why I was so crushed when things changed. I had no idea who I was. My identity was forged solely from the friends I hung out with.

I left D.C. on May 1, 2008 and I honestly haven’t looked back since. Yes, I still miss friends from there like crazy, and I wish all my favorite people could live in one city, but I’ve been back quite a few times. (In fact, I went back about two days after I left to finish up some Junior League commitments.)

But that doesn’t mean it was always easy. I moved home for a few months so that I could figure life out. I cried so much that first month. Being single, not having a job and living at home when lots of my friends were getting married and had great jobs and great apartments was really, really hard for me. But my mom, my best friend, was amazing at this time, telling me that things were only temporary and to think about how lucky I really was and what I had accomplished when I was in D.C. that would help me get to my next step in NYC.

I ended up finding a job only a month after I had moved up. I started six weeks after I moved home and moved into the city six weeks after that. In retrospect, working for an intellectual property law magazine when I had little interest in the law (no offense, lawyer readers) was not my brightest move, but I so badly wanted a magazine job in New York City that I thought that perhaps I could learn to love it. Well, I didn’t, and because I started at the height of the recession, I couldn’t find another job for almost another year and a half.

But after years of feeling sorry for myself, I finally decided I needed to make a change, and I’m so glad I did. I do think that the just-shut-up-and-do-it-everyone-has-a-lot-of-shit-to-deal-with ethos of NYC helped.

I really can’t believe it’s been three years and how much my life has changed since I left D.C. NYC certainly isn’t always the easiest place to live, but I’m so glad I made that decision three years ago.

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Here’s to the rest of my life here.

24 comments on “Three Years Ago Today

  1. Ali

    Loved learning all this about you! Happy 3-year-iversary to you and NYC.

    Thank God you moved here. Seriously. We wouldn’t have met otherwise…and that would be crazy.

  2. Coco

    Well, I’m laughing because I’m a D.C. native ^and^ and intellectual property lawyer! It takes courage to leave a job/place/situation where you are “happy enough.” I’m glad you took those leaps of faith and are happy now!

    1. Theodora

      @Coco: haha! I think being an IP lawyer would probably be more interesting than writing about them. And as for D.C…I like it much better from afar now πŸ™‚

  3. Brittany

    Happy Anniversary! I can’t wait for the big changes that are going to take place in my life when i’m living in Austin SOON πŸ™‚

  4. Katherine

    Admirable. I recently went through something very similar. I cried myself to sleep every night, gained 20 lbs only to develop anorexia and overuse of laxatives, and had some serious mean girl issues my first 2 years of college until I moved up here to NYC. I’ve never been happier and can totally relate! Props to you!

    1. Theodora

      @Katherine: Congrats on taking a chance, too, and I’m sorry you had to go through all of that before moving up here. But what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger, right? πŸ™‚

  5. Dorry

    Loved reading this! Learned a little more than I knew before, and congrats on being brave enough to make those changes 3 years ago that have led you to an incredible place!

    1. Theodora

      @Dorry: Somehow I knew you’d comment on this post πŸ™‚ You always leave such great comments on my “deep” posts.

  6. Tami Foster

    Wow! Thank you so much for writing this today. I just moved to Houston two months ago, far away from all of my family and friends and I am already in major dislike mode. I am going to stick it out for atleast a couple of years to grow in my work but I can see myself writing a post like this in a few years. I have worked for the same company for 9 years and have moved 4 times for internal job opportunities. However, I have never been able to get both my work life and personal life to go together. I am either happy at work and miserable in my personal life or happy in my personal life and miserable at my work. Here’s hoping that someday I am happy in both. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Theodora

      @Tami Foster: Sometimes it seems like being happy at both is so fleeting, but that doesn’t make it any less worth trying for. I hope you find it, too.

  7. Heather (Healthier Heather)

    Sometimes, I read your posts and it’s like we are thinking the same thing. I lived in DC for two years. Amazing good time but definately not loving the life there, not finding myself and yearning for something more. I moved home in the fall of 2001 and quickly met my future husband. Buffalo isn’t the sexist cities but definately my home. I miss DC and the vibe, but I am happy to be who I am where I am. I love your blog. Thanks for keeping it real.

  8. Carol Blanchfield

    First I have to say so sorry I didn’t get a chance to read
    this yesterday, but my sentiments are the same.
    Theodora you are my daughter and my greatest acheivment!!
    We are all so thankful that you decided to come home.
    You had the courage to make your changes and you accomplished more in 3 years than many people do in a lifetime! We are proud of you and Love you with all our heart


  9. Tams

    You forgot “I left the greatest person I ever met in DC: Tamsin.”

    I would be crying hysterically about this oversight, except that all the endorphins from my workout this AM (I can get up at 5am.. who AM I???) and from Girl Talk blasting in my ears won’t let me. Plus the USA is especially awesome today.

    PS… Memorial Day wknd — driving together??

  10. guest

    this might be a cheesey comment but i dont care – i love when you do posts like this. im in my mid 20s and i feel like no one ever talks about “when things dont go according to plan” and your statements about being “happy enough” are so dead-on. anyway, great post.

  11. tracey

    Thanks for this post. I took a chance a few months ago and moved to a new city for career growth, and it seems lately I am questioning that decision. But I feel better knowing that I’m not the only person out there who struggles with these life decisions and second guesses herself regularly. I just need to put on my big girl pants and make the best of it!

  12. 6rp3xthKCV

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  13. Chelsea @ Chelsea Eats Treats

    I currently live in DC (well, Rosslyn, but close enough)and am debating moving up to New York next January when my lease is up. I’m terrified to make the jump (my family is here, I went to school here, and I love my job here) but part of me just wants to try out NYC.

    I lived there for a summer in college and got a bad taste because I was only 20 and the rest of my friends were 21 (meaning I could never join them in some of the most fun things NY has to offer). I had a bad unpaid internship (I had to hide from clients, sit on the floor because they didn’t have enough chairs, and bring my own computer) and I sort of let it taint my opinion of living in Manhattan.

    Now that a bunch of my close friends are living in the big city, I’m thinking it might be time to give it another try. I’m so scared to take the plunge though; it’s so much easier to keep on keeping on, you know? I’d love any extra advice you have!!


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