Restless for Change

Cape Cod

I randomly emailed a recruiter I’d been talking to about a dream job in Atlanta almost a year ago. While the motivation has greatly changed, I still feel restless and hungry for change. Do I just need a new job? A new neighborhood in Chicago? I remember needing to move from Evanston to downtown and how that gave me the change I craved.  For almost a year now, I’ve been feeling that my time in Chicago is almost up. I just don’t know exactly when or where to next. Perhaps Atlanta or NYC. So long as it’s a livable place and not somewhere like Indiana.  I’m glad that my next move won’t be a reaction to wanting to escape the past. It would be about finding my next adventure. So much of life is made up of routine, waking up to my alarm, walking to work, trying to go to bed early. I think I want to do all these things somewhere completely new, where riding the trains, walking the streets is unfamiliar. I don’t feel a pull towards California. Never Los Angeles, I say. The idea of moving somewhere I’ve never even been sounds appealing. Atlanta fits that criteria and I’ve researched it. It’s home to the CDC, CNN, and nice Southern people. The desire to move somewhere new comes down to wanting to feel challenged I think. I’ve hit that level of comfort and ease in Chicago that makes me think perhaps it’s time to shake it up with a new location or at least a new neighborhood and new job.

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Things I’ve learned so far this year

  1. I don’t need to move to escape the past. Chicago is my home. Time is my friend.
  2.  Everyone was right, the passage of time is a wondrous, healing thing.
  3. I am truly grateful for all the wonderful relationships in my life that will never end. Not everyone has parents they are comfortable opening up to and getting advice from whether it be about life, finances, or relationships. My two sisters are my life long best friends, who I enjoy texting in  “The Lings” ongoing group text.
  4. Not to be so “scared” of spending money or to be so cheap. This is something I’m continuing to learn, but it struck me when my roommate said, I’m scared to spend money. Does money really hold any power over me? Then I recently read Matt 6 and came away feeling that the Lord has given me everything, Himself, my two jobs, etc. I could never begin to repay Him back, but everything I am and have is already His. Saving seems to give me a sense of security in an uncertain world, but I’m not here to store up for myself treasures on the earth. And as that same roommate pointed out if I did have unexpected medical bills amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, surely my family would help me.
  5. It’s not the reason you should spend on others, but it’s given me more joy than spending on myself. My favorite purchase of this year thus far was my contribution to a group gift for a dear childhood friend/college roommate so she could go to Israel with us.
  6. The power of vulnerability in the workplace. Recently, I found myself in a position where I felt like I had to reveal the fact that I have anxiety to my boss. I explained that I was once prescribed medication for it, but it hurt my stomach and I prefer to not take medication. The majority of the time, it’s like I don’t have anxiety anyways. It felt like such a personal, embarrassing thing to reveal, so I was surprised at the supportive reaction I got. It’s not embarrassing, he said. He asked what he could do minimize my anxiety at work.
  7. Maybe I don’t need a pet right now and dog sitting is more practical. Ok, so not a huge revelation, but I’ve been awaiting the time I can get a pet ever since I’ve moved to Chicago.
  8. One day at a time. One step at a time. My ongoing life motto. Everything’s turned out swimmingly so far, why worry about what hasn’t happened yet?

The fog has lifted

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This photo makes me smile. (Source: flickr)

“And at last I see the light, And it’s like the fog has lifted.” I rounded the Starbucks onto Taylor this morning stepping into the blazing sunshine and feeling every word of those lyrics. The spring in my step is back. So thankful not to feel the weight of sadness anymore. The fog has lifted. My excitement for the future is back and stronger than ever. Sure the path to healing from heartbreak is not a linear upward graph, but the dips along the way are becoming smaller and less frequent. The momentary pang I felt when a mutual friend sent me a picture of my ex feels like a distant memory. It’s his loss. I’ve accepted the past for what it is. It’s old news. I have new news to share!

I accepted an internship offer, that’ll likely lead to a job I’m excited about. I’ll be writing again. Just thinking that gives me joy. I’ve had other offers that I won’t go into here. I’m not talking about job offers. Starting afresh is actually kind of exciting. I think my view of my life situation has changed. The Lord knows. For everything, good, bad, uncertain, I’m thankful. He’s really taking care of me and listening. I know we shouldn’t be surprised when God answers our prayers, but I was shocked to receive an answer the very next day.

An update on my goals for this year are in order:

  • 1. Get a new job that I love. Sure it happened later than I’d hoped and it’s an internship, but I’m still happy about working full time hours starting next week!
  • 2. Cook and eat real food instead of opening bags of snacks and microwaving frozen dinners. Check! I’ve done a lot more cooking thanks to the slow cooker/instapot my sister gave me for my birthday. I’ve hosted my church small group, friends for a game night, dinners etc.
  • 3. Meet the love of my life this year if I haven’t already. Smiling because it’s too soon to know such a thing, but some progress is being made, even if it’s small.
  • 4. GET A PET!!!!!! I’ve decided this is for my next lease. I’m getting a pet, maybe a dog by Dec 2018.
  • 5. Publish some news articles this year whether it’s through a job/internship or freelancing.  Really need to work on this one. This is where waking up earlier and scheduling comes in.
  • 6. Make new memories by exploring Chicago while I’m still here and by having lots of fun with my roommates and group of church friends in our community. Happening all the time! So thankful for my roommates and friends and weekend trips to LA, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Champaign, Kansas City, and DC(all my trips through May). I’ve started to feel that actually I could stay in Chicago and be happy.

Timely help (with my groceries)

St. Patrick's Day

Photo taken by me this Saturday

“In everything give thanks. . ” has been ringing through my head lately(1 Thes 5:18). Sometimes I wish I was someone who felt less or not as strongly or didn’t care or need to have a family and a more fulfilling, challenging job. But I am what I am and I am where I am. It helps to remember to be thankful and give thanks for all things, for where I am and for simply being alive and breathing in the crisp, Chicago air.

Certain moments make the feeling of being painfully alone rise to the surface. Something about coming home from the airport with no one to pick me up does that. Struggling with carrying multiple grocery bags does that too. I think, yes I’m tough and independent, but sometimes I don’t want to be. I’ve even had the dramatic thought that if something happened to me and I were in the hospital, no one would visit me(hopefully not true).

I was starting to feel that way Sunday as I left Mariano’s grocery store with three heavy brown paper bags full of groceries and my bulky winter coat. I had to pause every block or so to rest my arms, take off more layers etc. I think I was telling the Lord about it too. The train station was still a ways off, when a van pulled up by me at a stoplight. A middle-aged man, asked if I wanted a ride. Of course I had to assess whether I’d come out of this ride alive. Somehow, I had the sense that this man was a decent human being just trying to help me out.

We made comfortable small talk and I told him, people like you are one of the reasons I love Chicago. Since I’m writing this, you know the ride ended with me and my groceries intact. That man’s small act of kindness made my day. I think the Lord knew I needed that, some sign that I’m not alone and there’s help.

Change your mindset, change your life

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Currently contemplating a move to Sweden and researching how to get a job there. And a visa. I need to make a big, momentous change in my life to match the unsettled, dissatisfaction I feel. While Chicago is my home, I was also hurt here and it’s haunted with memories of someone (my ex) and there’s this urge to move far, far away and start completely afresh. Maybe a whole new life awaits me in Europe. Something about the Scandinavian countries appeal to me. I used to dream of moving to Iceland or at least doing a global residency there for grad school when I met my ex. Somehow that dream got thrown to the wayside. It’s time I throw myself whole heartedly into any unfulfilled, huge dreams I have. It’s on my bucket list to live abroad one day and why not now?

Too often my own negative mindset or self doubt holds me back, but the older I’ve gotten the more I’ve realized the truth of if the mind believes it, you can achieve it. I can move to Sweden if I really want to. It’s not that hard. I’d just get a job and start applying for a visa.

Same with any other life change I want to make. It’s easy to conjure up excuses for not doing something. I don’t have time being a big one. But, we make time for what we want to. This week I started making more time by waking up earlier. Now I wake up around 6:50am, 7:15am naturally when I used to struggle to get out of bed after my alarm went off at 8am. I love that I’m waking up without an alarm clock and feeling rested and ready to conquer the day. Next, I’m going to schedule a concrete hour to work on freelance stories after I wake up. Hey, or maybe on job apps in Sweden.

It’s time to shine!

 

sun bathing

I really saw that this doesn’t have to be me, lethargic and listless post-breakup, I can really shine like my classmate has. (Photo by Scott)

Something about having a heart that’s been freshly wounded makes me more empathetic and emotional, prone to feeling things deeply. I caught up with a Medill classmate on Friday. I wasn’t trying to pry, but it quickly came out that she was going through a divorce last year. I had no idea. As I rode the train and ventured about downtown this weekend there was this thought that people around me are carrying pain and heartache that I don’t know about. Everyone can see if you’ve broken your arm or sometimes if you have a serious medical condition, but no one can see the injuries we acquire just going through life, from other people and life.  I’m not casting blame here, the end of a relationship or a marriage is often a two way street and in having that kind of intimate relationship with someone, you knowingly assume the risk of getting hurt. You take on that liability. To love someone is to also give them the power to destroy you, or at the very least, to hurt you terribly in a way no one else can.

The sun backlit my classmate and everything she said caused her to shine even brighter. Her way of dealing with her divorce was to throw herself into her work. She woke up at 6am everyday, Monday through Friday, and put in two hours of LSAT studying before work and two hours in the evening. It paid off of course. I left our coffee date feeling inspired and encouraged! Talk about being strong and turning life’s lemons into lemonade, lemon pie, you name it!

Seeing her so very successfully doing what I’ve been trying to do (using this time to lean into my career) freshly motivated me. I want to try waking up earlier and consistently putting in the hours to craft and sell my pitches and perhaps resurrect my old goal of teaching myself more coding. It’s all about putting in the time. Time for me to create a schedule and prioritize.

Taking action

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What are you doing today to make your dreams a reality? That’s my motto. When my sister asked what can you do about your concerns, the answer was easy: apply to jobs and something personal I can’t mention here. Just know that I’m making progress in both my career goals and love life. Leaning into my career and taking care of myself Sheryl Sandberg style is how I’m moving forward.

Speaking of Sheryl Sandberg, I recommend her book “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy.” In the wake of loss, a breakup, divorce, death or other hardship you wish you could go back to what you had before, but that’s no longer an option. You have to kick the sh** out of option B instead. Her words, not mine.

Her stories about different difficulties people encountered and how they persisted were so encouraging. Resilience comes from moving past the three P’s: Personalization, Pervasiveness and Permanence. They refer to the beliefs that what happened was your fault (personalization), that it will affect all areas of your life (pervasiveness) and that the aftershocks of the event will last forever (permanence). I’m definitely guilty of the last one. I question if I’ll always be this sad and whether my happiness will always be tinged with an undercurrent of sadness. But, it’s a fact that I won’t always feel this way. Gottta give myself credit for how strong I’ve been and all the days I kill it at work and in life.

Taking action reveals that these inner fears aren’t true. Instead of remaining in my worry or anxiety, doing something dispels it. Taking advantage of the snowball effect and rolling with my energy and motivation to greater and greater effect felt so good today. Starting an application for one job today led to completing three. Again, I credit my new favorite blogger “Just Amyllennial” with this idea. Identify what you can do to work with the situation you’ve got.

These days I’m filled with the sense that I’m on the cusp of change. There’s a new job and stories waiting to be done by me. I’ve made some promising connections with fellow Medill alumni that will help me publish and sell freelance stories. Stay tuned.