For years, I tossed around the idea of leaving the city that I lived in. Most of my friends from college had already moved away, and I hadn’t been able to find a sense of community since – despite many attempts to do so through meet-up groups, volunteering, and even through work. I hadn’t had much luck in the dating scene either, even though I continually focused on my health and wellness, as well as immersing myself in my hobbies and passions. And dear God, was I sick of the cold and the snow!
I was happy with who I was – I took good care of myself and made progress on my career path, but things just weren’t coming together for me.
Along came 2020. At the start, I was on fire: I had received multiple job offers and had already made some new friends. I had so much hope, and I thought this would be the year that everything I had been working toward finally culminated.
You already know where this is heading. In short, COVID-19 turned everything upside down. I found myself living alone during a statewide stay-at-home order. I didn’t have a solid group of friends from work, since I had only just joined the company right before everything went remote. All of my usual in-person activities were cancelled or had also gone virtual. Along with everyone else, I lost so much of my life all at once.
I actually did have a partner at the beginning of the COVID-19 period, and we spent every weekend of the summer together. However, I ultimately realized that we weren’t right for one another and ended things, which was very difficult but necessary.
Though I was the one to end the relationship, I completely fell apart after the breakup. Given that my work was all remote anyway, my partner was the last reason I had to justify staying where I was. To me, this breakup symbolized what I already knew to be true but couldn’t admit to myself: that this city wasn’t right for me, and that things were never going to come together for me the way I dreamed they could. I now found myself facing a long winter all alone, with no vaccine in sight and no signs of an eventual return to normal.
I wondered aloud, “Why am I here?” I felt trapped and hopeless and spent many nights crying myself to sleep.
Slowly, I began to feel the disconnect between the life I currently had and the life I dreamed of come into even sharper focus. While I did enjoy the lack of commute and wearing shorts and slippers during Zoom meetings, working at home also took away the positive aspects that came from being in an actual office. Without the feeling of community at work, I realized that the job alone wasn’t fulfilling to me. It represented a cultural success narrative that I had inherited and clung to, because it felt safe and acceptable to others. It made sense to want this career, and I received validation and encouragement from those around me while I worked toward my goals. Even though I did prove that I could succeed in this line of work, I had to admit to myself that I no longer wanted to.
Then I asked myself this question: If I didn’t have this job, would I want to stay here in this city, or would I go back and live with my parents on the west coast? To me, the answer was obvious.
It was only then that I finally gave myself permission to go after what I truly desired – building a life closer to my family, where the sun always shines.
Why didn’t I make the change sooner?
Well, there was always a way to justify keeping things the way they already were. There was always another meet-up group to try, another person to go on a first date with, or something else to point to and claim as worth staying for. Obviously, as you already know, making a big change is really difficult. It felt more comfortable to try to fix my current situation instead of admitting to myself that things just weren’t going to work out for me where I was. It felt like a personal failure. How come I couldn’t build a happy life near where I had gone to college, in a big city full of tons of young people just like me?
But 2020 took away the distractions and the excuses and forced me to evaluate the life I had built from its very foundation. I definitely can’t say that I’m grateful COVID-19 exists and made its way to the USA – this is a horrific tragedy that we all wish never happened. However, I can say that I am grateful that my life was disrupted, because it forced me to clearly see the reality of my situation and acknowledge how I felt about it.
I can’t guarantee that everything will be perfect and rosy on the other side. Loss is an inevitable and uncomfortable part of any change. But I can promise you that after letting go, you will also feel immense relief. It will feel like a massive exhale. Physically, my body is no longer perpetually tense. I wake up in the morning full of energy instead of drained and dreading the day ahead of me.
You will feel like a new person. You will move more slowly, finding joy in the small things in your life. You will reconnect with old interests and passions. You will make time for friends you wish you hadn’t fallen out of touch with. Most importantly, you will make time just for yourself.
It’s okay if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want next or a foolproof plan of how to move forward.
It’s here where the magic comes alive.
Let your new life begin. It’s waiting for you.