Starting over is tough. New normals are tough. Making decisions that are best for you is tough. Saying no to toxins that you voluntarily pursue are tough. Ultimate happiness requires you to be tough when it is much easier to quit or give in.
New years are infamous for resolutions and new beginnings. This new year has proven to be quite the doozey despite still being in the first month of the year. Having graduated in Austin, TX this past May, I made it my mission to spend until January to begin the career of my dreams (with no real specifics in mind.) Meanwhile, I worked as an administrative assistant at a local dermatology clinic, answering phones, fielding angry patient complaints and assisting in various odd end duties. Dream job?—not so much.
Back in May, this seemed like a reasonable goal. Then, the reality of friends graduating and moving their lives elsewhere or back home, taking on financial independence with the nearest family relative 1,575 miles away in Pennsyltucky, and clueless as to what I even want to do sunk in. I spent the next eight months spinning my wheels on websites like CareerBuilder and Indeed relentless searching for what my passion might become. I missed my best friends that all seemed on the fast track to success, my family, and devoted most of my free time to dating a too-old-wanna-be-rock-star-no-talent-balding-dumb-lying-sack-o-shitake-mushroom. I found myself, just before the new year, in a rut, panicked and desperate for clarity (or mere oxygen.) I had no real social life, no real sense of what I enjoyed and remained stuck in a job I hated, with a boyfriend, who, by the way, would make me sleep on his old-man-white-leather-uncomfortable couch with a food stained ripped bed cover when staying over, all the while, missing home was palpable. As an end-of-year inventory, my independent life of a mere eight months was registering as a massive fail.
After coming home for the holidays, I found myself in the taxi car ride back from the airport transfixed on the Austin skyline. I loved this place that I had called home for the last four and half years. I think of all the morning sunrises over these buildings I saw while rowing on the lake with my teammates, and the 3AM stumbles back to my apartment giggling with my girlfriends. An overwhelming visceral sense of belonging ran through my veins. I saw my reflection in the taxi cab window. This place was not good for me anymore. This boy was not good for me. Home is a place in my heart and my mind and I can have it anywhere. I was not finding it in Chapter Two of Austin, Texas. Then came a sweeping sensation of terror that quickly balanced out my idealistic romanticism. This frenzied tango sent me into a packing and personal item purging tailspin for the next three days.
Without skipping a beat I walked into my apartment and started throwing my clothes into bags, put all of my furniture on craigslist and called my landlord to tell them I would be out by Jan 1. I started to pack my car to make the 1,575 mile drive home. I needed a fresh start, I needed my family, I needed my childhood friends and my little old yellow lab, Percy. I had made an effort over the last eight months, and I learned that I just needed to stop equating being tough with being stupid. I needed to take a step back, return home in order to move forward again.
After a packing whirlwind, a ten-hour argument with my boyfriend (oh, wait, I am not permitted to call him that—too much pressure for him) that “didn’t want me anyways… but thought I should stay just in case his feelings change,” and a broken driver’s side mirror later, I was on the road headed home. My family couldn’t wait to have me back (they were not the biggest fan of the new life I had started to create for myself), my head was spinning, and my music blaring. Two days of driving and crying later, and I was home. Seventeen days later, and I am feeling good with what initially felt like an impulsive decision. I have my family back, I have my heart and brain re-centered and restored, and I am beginning to rediscover my ambitions and passions once again.
While I do not believe everyone should purge all of their belongings and move across the country when things are not going as planned, sometimes the toughest decisions are to give in to that nagging sense, that fight or flight intuition that for most, is pretty accurate. It has been tough to start over and return to who and what I am. These eight months of trying to impress my lousy boyfriend and unknown audience, and all the while slowly losing my sense of pride and authentic self, made clarity just beyond my reach.
It is a constant struggle with highs and lows. I need to remind myself to stay tough. No one else can do this for me. A year from now, I hope to look back and say, “I remember how hard that was and this makes this moment of joy, so much sweeter. But I am healed now. Never again.”