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…)
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.
Here’s to the rest of my life here.