This past Tuesday marked the three year anniversary of the day that I left Florida, my family, my friends, and the surroundings that I had known for most of my life to move to Seattle. I remember that it had been a tough decision to make, but one that was also filled with so much excitement that the fear was mostly overshadowed with anticipation. This move would mark the beginning of my adulthood and independence. This was the start of my first professional job, my first apartment with no roommates, my first time not having anyone that was just a phone call away to come to my rescue if I needed help. There would be over 3,000 miles between myself and my closest loved ones.
At the end of my college career, I found myself lucky enough to have two job offers in hand. One in Connecticut, where the majority of my extended family lived along with the all important Mister E. The other was in Seattle, Washington, where I knew no one. To some, it seemed like an obvious choice that I would choose the offer in Connecticut to be with Mister E and family. But to me, it wasn’t such an easy decision. At the time, the furthest West that I had been was Missouri, leaving the whole western part of the country as uncharted territory. There was a large question mark on the map hovering over Seattle. What was it like? What kind of people live there? What do people do there for fun? Does it snow there?
I made a long list of pros and cons for both job offers with neither coming out as a clear winner. I talked to my parents about it, soliciting their opinions. I talked to Mister E, going over scenarios of what the future might hold for us with each option. I talked to almost everyone who would listen, looking for any words of wisdom that might give me clarity. I spent two weeks in my own personal limbo, uncertain of what direction my life was about to go in. Part of the problem was that it was so easy for me to envision what my life would be like if I choose Connecticut – I could imagine everything, right down to the very details. But when I tried to imagine what my life would be like in Washington, I kept drawing a blank. How could I compare my two options when one was such a big unknown?
I wish I could say that I experienced some sort of divine intervention and was given a sign that made me confident in my final decision to choose Seattle, but there was none. Ultimately, it was the draw of Seattle’s blank canvas that blindly led me to my choice. As clearly as I could picture every other detail of what my life in Connecticut would be like, I could also see how I would always second guess my choice. I would always have a “what if” nagging at me in the back of my brain. What if I had chosen Seattle? How would things have been different for me? I decided that I didn’t want to move forward with my life always wondering how how life would have turned out had I made a different choice. So I choose Seattle, where I at least had the comfort of knowing what it was exactly that I was giving up by not choosing Connecticut.
There was such an overwhelming sense of relief once my decision was made. And although the process of making the decision was scary, once I had made up my mind, I found that I wasn’t all that scared about making such a big move. After making such a major decision, I was filled with adrenaline that gave me courage that I didn’t know I had.
I woke up at 4:30 a.m. the morning of July 26th, 2008 with a pit in my stomach. I checked and double checked all of my bags and my wallet for my id. I got dressed in my John Lennon t-shirt hoping that I would blend into the Seattle hipster scene. I ate the little bit of breakfast that I could manage to stomach. And then finally, I collected Kaylie and left for the airport with my parents and brother. I waited with my family next to the security gate as long as I could. It was a tough goodbye that wasn’t made any easier by trying to shove a pill down Kaylie’s throat that the vet had given her to help her remain calm for the flight. In that moment, I remember wishing that I had been prescribed something to help calm me down.
Within 15 minutes of walking off the the plane in Seattle, I called my mother collect from a payphone, already close to tears. I had managed to lose my cell phone during the flight and was now completely alone in a strange city with three large suitcases, one cranky cat, and no clue on how I was going to manage. My arrival seemed to set the tone for the next few days as one thing after another seemed to be going wrong. My laptop was on the fritz, I consistently got lost every day, and my old car that had been shipped all the way from Florida wouldn’t start.
As I was reminded again from my recent move to Connecticut, things are rough in the beginning. It takes time to figure things out and get settled in. It took me several weeks in Seattle to start getting comfortable with things and several months before I started to think that I would actually make it on my own there.
Now that I made the decision to leave Seattle for Connecticut nearly three years later, I’ve had friends and family ask me if I regret moving to Seattle instead of Connecticut in the first place. I can’t help but feel as if there’s hidden judgment behind their questions and comments. They make me feel as if I failed with my decision to move to Seattle. As if they’re saying, “Well, you gave it your best shot, but it just didn’t work out”.
Well, I’m here to tell you that Seattle worked out exactly as it was supposed to.
There are absolutely no regrets on my end. Yes, it was tough being on my own and there were lots of moments where I was lonely and missed everyone back in Florida and Connecticut. But with absolute confidence, I can say that Seattle was the right decision for me. It gave me the time and room to grow and explore adulthood without any barriers. I matured in ways that I don’t think would have been possible elsewhere.
And as far as my relationship goes with Mister E, the distance was most certainly a burden and pushed us to the breaking point more than once. However, I know that our love, trust, communication, and appreciation for each other is stronger today. For the rest of my life, Seattle will be remembered as the special place where I developed into the person that I am today.
So my point in telling you all of this is:
don’t be afraid of the choice in life that may be difficult/scary/uncomfortable.
Take a leap of faith and know that you will come out on the other side a changed person for the better.
Regardless of whether it turns out to be the right decision or not, you will be stronger, you will love yourself more, and you will learn that you are smarter and more capable of a person than what you gave yourself credit for.
So go ahead. No more waiting around. Take a deep breath and take the next scary step in life.