Hi Friends! I apologize in advance for the novel but I wanted to be able to tell my story of how I ended up in California. If you want the TL:DR version: I stopped complaining about my life and I did something about it. You can, too.
Now for the long version:
For most of 2013 and 2014 I felt like I was in a slump. I did not admit this to many people, but I felt really unhappy in my life. It seemed as if everyone was moving forward whether it was their career, relationships, new adventures, etc. I felt like I was just wading in one place. I kept busy doing fun things to keep life interesting, but in terms of going places, I was, figuratively, going nowhere.
I also felt like I sort of lost myself. I had just been freed of a relationship that was wearing me down and I hated that this person somehow made me forget who I am. Sometime in this crappy relationship, Awesome Michelle went away, and after it ended, it felt like she never fully returned. I was also nearing 10 years of being in basically the same job with no career advancement and feeling like I was never going to get out. And so began the next year and a half of just feeling lost.
Early in 2014, I was given the opportunity to leave this job and break into marketing and events. Finally! My big break! It was a scary leap that paved the way for more crazy decisions in my life that year. The excitement did not last long: it didn't quite end up being the job I was hired for and a lot of other factors continued to add to my unhappiness, so I left in July. I was determined to find whatever it was that would make me happy.
Crazy decision #2: quit a job without another one lined up. I don't recommend it. I don't regret taking that job, as it took me out of my comfort zone, but it took a chunk of my savings account to get by. I try to learn from every experience in life and know that things happen for a reason.
I spent a month feeling released and free of frustration and stress and attempted freelancing. During this time, my friend E convinced me to move to San Diego with her. I've been asked to move before - my best sister-cuzzy, V tried to get me to go with her 6 years ago - but this time was different. I was in a place in my life where I wasn't tied down to my job and I was free to go anywhere I want. I've never lived anywhere else in my life. Now is a great time to try living somewhere new! The plan was to move in November so I could spend Thanksgiving with my family before leaving so I took a temp job to hold me over.
The temp job was for a large corporation working for their community relations team. Working with the company to do good in the world was what I felt I was missing in my career. It felt great knowing that I was helping others without expecting anything in return. During my time with this company, I knew that I wanted my next job to have an element of corporate responsibility and I knew that I wanted to have a job that I could actually make an impact. I wanted my work to impact the outcome of the company. I wanted a hand in decision making and know that my hard work makes a difference.
Also during my time with this company, I knew that I couldn't just pick up and move to another state without a job, so I decided to give myself three months California in search of a job. I'd stay with V and job hunt, and if things don't work out, well at least I got to spend winter away in a place with gorgeous weather because I hate snow in Virginia. Once the temp job ended, I said goodbye to my favorite people, my dog (yes, I bawled my eyeballs out), I packed up my car and headed west, and my parents joined me for my trip.
I found myself in San Diego in December. I can't believe that I spent 4 days driving across the country with my life packed into my car. I spoke with recruiters but thanks to a friend connection, I found myself talking to a startup based in Los Angeles. I never even considered moving to LA because on my last visit there, I thought it was disgusting. Smog, traffic, glitzy. But there was something about this job that seemed just right. It was in the Southbay area, which means the area had a beachy and more laid back feel. The job was working for a company that has brilliant designs and gives back with every purchase. The position was managing their social media as well as contributing to the success of the company. I joked about this being my dream job, but it was true. It had everything I wanted. A small company full of bright people doing good and getting to be the voice of the brand. I never worked so hard to get a job, and I couldn't believe it when I was hired.
I did it. I got the job that I wanted within my first month of landing in California, and now I'm living in Los Angeles, only a few minutes from the sea. I can't say that I'm "back to my old self" but I am definitely happier. Plus, how can you be sad when the sun is always shining and you can have lunch outside in February?
I feel like after such a bad 2014, 2015 is my year. I went through so much stress, heartache, frustration, tears, and sadness and I finally feel like I am myself again. But it's like the new and improved Michelle. I'll never be quite the same person, but I'm excited to see where this adventure will take me.
But all of this didn't just fall in my lap. I took action. I made this happen. Instead of sitting at home sulking about my sad life, I got off my ass and I made a change for myself. I'm not saying everyone needs to drive across the country with no job (BTW, that's Crazy Decision #3), but if I can do something as crazy as that to make a difference, anyone can make a tiny change to improve their happiness.
Of course, there were many people that helped me along the way. I didn't do this alone! First and foremost, I couldn't have done this without the help of my parents. I hate asking for help and they assured me that you can never be too proud to accept it from others. And despite all of the crazy decisions I've made in my life, they've always understood that I march to the beat of my own drum. Thank you to V, who helped make this trip more real by giving me advice based on her own cross country move and giving me a place to stay. And my friends and family! I've gotten mixed responses when I told them I was leaving, but they've been so supportive of my decision. I hate that I'm not near them anymore but we remain close. Thank goodness for phones and internet!
If you made it through this novel, thank you, too. Thank you for taking the time to read about my journey. When a friend asked me to write about my cross country trip, I never realized that this was two years in the making. The actual decision to move was pretty quick, but I think all of the frustrations I've dealt with the year before is what led me to this decision.
I hope, if anything, this post inspires you to make things happen. We are in charge of our own lives and we have the power to make it better.