Here I sit, at the departure gate at a Dallas, TX airport, waiting to close one chapter of my life and start another.
Another chapter is about to begin because I let my heart lead the way in my life. I have 100 thoughts rushing through my mind, and my heart is pounding like a commercial jackhammer.
Is it the fear of the unknown, the need for change or the thrill of meeting new people in new places that leads me on these crazy journeys? I'm not sure. The only thing I'm sure of is that my heart is what guides me to this departure gate.
About two years ago, I met a guy online. My first love, if you will. We instantly clicked, or so I thought.
He said all the right things at all the right times. (Don't they always?) It felt right, and clearly I was blinded by whatever charm he was capable of giving off from 1,200 miles away.
After texting, calling and video chatting for a couple of months, we convinced each other it was time to meet.
Spontaneously, I hopped on a plane to fly to the great state of Texas to meet a guy I barely even knew. No matter what decade we are in, or how many technological advances there are, I think it is nearly impossible to truly know someone without engaging in face-to-face conversation.
That week with him was magical. Well, as magical as a few days in the oldest town in Texas, in the middle of the Bible Belt, can be for a gay guy. After falling harder for him, it was time for me to return home.
As I was waiting in the airport, I knew it wouldn't be my last time in the state. I knew my heart had already decided that a week in Texas (with him) wasn't enough.
A few weeks passed, and eventually, he began to pull away. His true personality and intentions came to the surface, and let's just say, I felt like a used piece of trash.
But I was still crazy about him.
My heart would not let him go, no matter how hard I tried to move on. So, a few months after my visit, I made the bold choice to pack up my things and drive cross-country to permanently move to Texas.
To this very day, I have no idea what my intentions were. I don't know what I hoped to accomplish by moving to Texas.
Did my heart think I could win him over if I lived close to him? Probably, but I didn't question it.
The week of my move, I had an inner struggle with myself. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to commit to a new place. I was afraid of the unknown, and I was anxious about giving up the place and people I had been surrounded by for 20 years.
In my heart and in my mind, I knew I wanted change, but the confidence of wanting change didn't overshadow the fear and doubts.
Until one day...
My cousin, knowing how much I was struggling with the decision, told me something I now carry with me every single day, through every decision I make.
When you are struggling with a decision, let your mind be confident that whichever path your heart decides to take is the choice you are supposed to be making all along.
Taking her advice, I packed up my life into four boxes and made the 20-hour drive from Pittsburgh to Nacogdoches, a small college Texas town.
Moving to Texas had its ups and downs. I had my moments of sheer panic, but I also made memories that would last a lifetime.
The nearly two years I have spent in Texas have contained some of the most rewarding, challenging and unique experiences of my life. While I moved here with no plan, barely any contacts and on a heartfelt whim that most people would call irrational and crazy, I know in my heart that this is the place I was meant to be for the past 22 months.
Even though I blindly changed my life in an instant, that same decision has given me insight into a life I could only have dreamed. The friends I have made in this state will be ones I will cherish for a lifetime. They are irreplaceable. They have a part of my heart, and I know I am currently carrying a part of theirs.
If anything, those connections have made my time here worth it.
As I leave to start my next chapter with a new job in Boston, I am filled with the same feeling of anxiousness and uncertainty. Yet again, I am blindly letting my heart lead my life.
While I am unsure that the outcomes of this journey will be as meaningful as the ones that came from moving to Texas, I am strangely at ease.
These feelings take me back. These feelings make me remember one thing: When you are struggling with a decision, let your mind be confident that whichever path your heart decides to take is the choice you are supposed to make all along.
That is exactly what I am doing. I know if I wasn't supposed to be moving on to the next chapter, I wouldn't be at this airport right now.
Some people will feel like this method for making life decisions is irrational, irresponsible and just plain stupid. Others will say how strong, brave, adventurous and driven I am.
To all of those people: While I appreciate your input and words of advice/encouragement, I can assure you my decision process is none of these things.
Don't get me wrong; letting your heart lead your life can have its downsides. Heck, it can even lead you to rock bottom.
But I can promise you one thing: If you trust the process and believe whatever choice your heart makes is the path you are supposed to be on all along, I can promise you it will be nearly impossible to live your life with regret.
You will look back on the choices you made (no matter how irrational, adventurous or scary), and reaffirm the quality experiences you will take in and the life obstacles you will overcome by letting your heart guide you through the rest of your life.