Fresh out of college, I was ready not only to move out of my college town for a bit, but to get started on putting my degree to use.
Most people dread moving into the adulthood phase, but I just couldn't wait. I was excited to use what I learned to help a company thrive and be able to work my way up to be an editor one day.
After living in a small town like Wilmington, NC, I knew my craving for adventure would not be fulfilled if I stayed there. And besides, now that I had nothing permanently holding me back, I wanted to use this time to explore beyond North Carolina while I could.
Eventually, I knew I'd come back, but for now, with my youthful energy, I wanted nothing more than to throw myself in a new scene and learn how to live a new lifestyle.
So what did I do? I made a list of places I potentially wanted to travel to. I knew I wanted to be in a big city, but which one? Everywhere from New York to Chicago to DC to Boston to Atlanta was most likely on my list.
This might all sound crazy, but I definitely didn't just move to where I am now, without a plan. I started applying for tons of jobs and decided to pack my bags and head to wherever I landed an interview and got a good offer. I wanted some kind of foundation to move to a new place with.
After tons of applications were sent, the odds favored Chicago. I had never been there, it sounded nice and I didn't know a single person living there. I landed some interviews and decided I should probably explore while I was in the city.
When people travel and say, "I love this place. I want to stay here forever," they don't usually mean it. They probably just really like wherever they're visiting.
Personally, I will admit I've traveled a lot in Europe and the East Coast, and I've fallen in love with some cities, but I've never actually said, "I want to stay here forever."
Keeping that in mind, I actually fell in love with and wanted to stay in Chicago. The city felt homey to me, and people were just so nice — something I was quite surprised by. (I guess it's that "Midwestern friendliness.") Before I knew it, I landed a pretty sweet job offer and made my way to the Windy City.
Sure, my parents weren't happy with my move, I had no savings and I had no clue where to live in Chicago, but that was all part of the experience, in my opinion. I grew up with extremely strict parents, and after 23 years of breaking every barrier possible, they still deal with my crazy decisions somehow.
I knew, once I got settled here, they'd realize this would make me happy. After a couple of months of working, I would build up some savings, and living in Chicago would no longer be a huge stress. As long as I can afford a place, I can figure out better options after living in the city for a few months.
So here I was, accepting an offer for a startup publication in Chicago. I packed everything, drove the 13 hours and I was beyond excited, to say the least. I had graduated and within a month, I not only received a job offer, but I was now living in the third largest city in America. How's that for a life change?
The morning of my first day of big-girl world, I walked in, prepared to take on any tasks thrown at me. My boss explained my assignments, and within a few hours, I had completed everything and was hungry to take on more.
By day two and day three, I realized I had the same exact assignments. I kept asking questions, trying to get better insight on things, only to find myself getting nowhere.
My colleagues didn't care that I was new. They didn't care to help me. I figured the stagnancy I felt was likely because it was my first job. As the week went by, however, I realized this would be the routine every day at this company.
What was initially discussed in my offer about work-life, my responsibilities, etc., was not my current reality. To (hopefully) get some reassurance, I decided to talk to my boss about how I was feeling.
To my surprise, I was told to simply continue with the tasks given and that it would be a while before I saw any real growth, given the current position I was in.
I understood the company was a startup, so it wasn't exactly perfect, but what was I really getting myself into?
I just didn't feel comfortable in the situation. Though, when I talked to my loved ones, they assured me I was feeling this way because it's only my first job or because it's different from college.
But when I get a gut instinct that something isn't right for me, I usually follow it. For years, I'd gotten comfortable with being uncomfortable in positions, but this was different. It wasn't that I was uncomfortable, it genuinely just didn't feel right to me.
So I quit.
Yes, I quit. All that effort in packing and moving for nothing, you say? No, it wasn't all for nothing.
Honestly, I feel like this was meant to be. Through this experience, I realized what I wanted in a job, and I learned not to let anyone take me or my talent for granted.
Sure, I may be new to the workforce, with very little experience, but just like anyone else, I did have some talent to bring to the table.
The minute I quit and walked out, I called my parents, I spoke with my boyfriend and I told my roommates. And unsurprisingly, they were all disappointed in me.
To them, this was so impractical and stupid. The lecture I got for this was intense, of course, but I didn't let it hurt me. If anything, it did the opposite. It motivated and guided me to work for a position that was right for me, where I knew what I was getting myself into.
Fast forward seven months, and I now work at a law firm, write as a freelancer, volunteer as a tutor for disabled, young adults and take photos around the city for small gigs. And most importantly, I'm happy.
Not only am I getting the best experience out of a city, but I'm going with the flow and learning with the people I meet everyday.
For anyone who says I'm dumb for what I did, you're entitled to your opinion. But if "being dumb" led me to my happiness, I would argue and say it makes me pretty smart.