Each time my alarm has gone off the last 50 or so mornings, I’ve had to pinch myself. I can’t believe I’m actually living in Nashville.
*Another pinch for good measure* Yepp, it’s real.
So far, it’s been both everything and nothing I’ve expected it to be, which I think is all I could ask for from a life change of this caliber. I wanted it all to be novel and exciting, but I also desperately needed it to be comfortable. And up until now, I’ve gotten just that. Lucky me!
I’m extremely excited about the potential of this new chapter. But before exploring that, I wanted to first look back and reflect on how I found myself all the way in Tennessee in the first place.
I’ve broken up this post of reflection in a “before” and “after” of sorts, and here is part one of that post.
Warning: It’s long. But it’s meaningful.
The Messy Journey
It hasn’t been an easy road to get here, let me be the first to tell you that.
You know that proverbial fork in the road that they talk about? The one you and I will both reach without question at some point in our lives? When it all comes down to that singular defining moment in which we are forced to make a life-altering or life-affirming decision? Yeah, that one.
I always thought it was something you clearly knew was happening. Like, “Oh here I am, at the proverbial fork in the road! Let’s decide things!!”
Well, apparently that’s not how it works out for everyone. I, personally, was unaware that I had reached the fork, however long ago it was that I stumbled upon it. It wasn’t plainly signed with something so obvious as “MARISSA THIS IS THE FORK”, so on I went merrily, not realizing I had made a poor, poor choice on which road to take.
The one I moseyed along to get here — or maybe stumbled along is more accurate — was filled with too many bumps and sudden turns to keep account of. For most of this journey, I genuinely couldn’t get a grip. I was navigating uncharted territory… territory that was chock-full of second-guessing and disappointment.
I’ve lightly touched on it before, but moving to a new state was something that I’d been interested in for a while now. I considered applying to colleges out of state, but figured that I needed to be in the hub of the “industry” to excel in the career I was pursuing (which at the time was event planning). So off to Los Angeles I went.
I spent four years loving my life there. I made the best of friends, had the most wonderful internships and jobs with mentors that I truly admired (and still do). But there was always a tiny part of me that wondered, “what if?”
Come graduation, I was presented with an opportunity to interview for a position with a company in Austin, Texas. It was the first time that this far-off dream of leaving California became scarily within reach. As I made it further and further in the interview process, I got more comfortable with the prospect of this new life away from everything I had grown comfortable with and accustomed to in California. It became hard not to think up a future for myself in this new place… and I gotta admit it was a make-believe future that kind of rocked.
Then I didn’t get the job. It was pretty crushing, and it’d be an understatement to say it was a huge setback for my post-grad life considering I had gone against my dad’s advice and put all my eggs in this one Austin-bound basket. So instead of packing up my college room and road-tripping halfway across the country to this cool new city, I was jobless and heading back home to San Diego and my new roommates, Mom and Dad.
The following summer and fall were lonely and extremely disappointing. While my college friends were beginning to make those exciting early strides in their careers, I was re-thrown into the thick of the job hunt, and it didn’t take long to experience the tough reality of it. I think I applied for a minimum of 50 positions. That means 50 cover letter and resume edits, 50 times my hopes inflated then eventually expired. It was emotionally draining.
And I know many people reading might think, why not just go somewhere, with or without a job? Why not be a waitress, or work at a coffee shop in the meantime?
Well, duh. That’s so easy. So I obviously didn’t do that.
I was fresh out of college, having just spent four years at a not-so-inexpensive university and obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing. My young ego was far too fragile to graduate and move to a new state to work in a restaurant. Looking back, it seems like such a rational thing to do. But at that time in my life, it just wasn’t fathomable.
I slowly gave up on the big dream of moving and settled for a part-time job at a floral company in the meantime, giving myself a well-deserved break from the tireless job hunt. And in the thick of this rough period of life, a great thing ended up coming along at just the right time. And this great thing eventually presented the opportunity to write professionally, which is still what I do today.
But just because I had landed some version of my dream job didn’t mean that I was perfectly happy. There was still a part of me that felt like I had settled. Though my career was finally taking off (and not to mention at a company that also seemed to be doing extremely well), I felt stuck.
The remainder of 2016 came and went without anything spectacular to say about it, except that I got my first year of real-life work under my belt.
In early 2017, I (pretty stupidly) took a long weekend trip with my college roommates to Austin — the very city that so rudely rejected me a couple years before. It was this visit that re-sparked my love of Austin, and it was during this visit that I knew in my deepest parts it was the place I needed to be.
The rest of that spring was spent feverishly trying once more to find a way to Austin. I took time vetting potential companies in the city, ones I felt had a similar culture to my current workplace, places I felt I could really thrive and be happy. I reached out, heard back from two of them, and was quickly able to speak via telephone and dive eagerly into the interview process. I was surprised to find some immediate level of success, making it through the screening calls and then into a few conversations with potential managers. Through it all, I allowed those hopes of moving and those daydreams of a new life to resurface once more. I felt that it was finally my time; this would soon be my reality.
I should have known better. I was straight ghosted by the company I had spent weeks interviewing with. They went radio silent, no longer responding to my follow-up emails. It took me a week or two to accept that this was their rather unprofessional and rude way of letting me know they had gone in a different direction. This experience made me feel so small, so foolish. I was crushed.
With a seriously weighty heart, I decided that was it. I had had it. And with that decision, I entered a really low season of life; one so gloomy that those close to me were quick to take notice of the shadow of my former myself I had become.
Luckily, they pulled me out before I got too far deep. They built my shattered ego back up, reminding me of how hard I had worked to get where I was in the first place. Of how resilient I was and of how sure I should always be of myself. They reminded me of my worth. I slowly clawed out of the rut I found myself in and settled into my routine in Orange County and at work. I tried my absolute hardest to be the best version of myself, even if that meant I was destined to stay put in California. And for a while, it worked. I saved up to travel and see the world. I took the time to seek out novel things that sparked something in me. I started this blog.
Then my grandpa got sick. Like, really sick. He left us a few days before this past Christmas, and I felt immense heartbreak that disturbed the bit of progress I had made. Thankfully, tragedy struck around the holidays when I was already surrounded by family and close friends. I was able to be at home with my mom who had just lost her dad. My sister flew in from Chicago and we spent a couple weeks together as a unit again. Our little family of four.
The new year swiftly arrived, and with it came the pressure to set some resolutions. My grandfather’s passing ignited in me the desire to make him proud, but even more, to make myself proud again. About a week into 2018, I set some intentions in addition to resolutions… things like creating a better version of me, traveling more and, of course, moving to a new state.
The Turning Point
I work for a company that has a number of offices domestically in the U.S. as well as internationally. In the last almost-three years that I’ve been lucky enough to work here and get my daily grind on, they’ve grown exponentially and opened offices in a slew of awesome cities. Last year, Nashville was added to the roster.
I love working for this company; the work that I do daily, the people I get to work closely with — I can’t imagine anything better. But I also knew that I needed to get out of California in order to grow and, at the very least, shake this desire to leave.
Around March, I started toying with the idea of initiating a conversation with my manager about the possibility of a relocation. I didn’t know how this would be received, especially since our small team of seven was located exclusively in Orange County. During one of our weekly meetings in April, we were told that someone on our team had put in their two-weeks notice in order to spend more time with her young kids. It was a shock to all of us, but we understood the importance of this time with her darling children and knew it was the right move for her family.
My ears perked up and heart started racing when my manager brought up the prospect of backfilling her role in the Nashville office. It didn’t last long though, as she quickly shut it down since, as I had feared, the team was here. Even so, I knew if I didn’t say something I would miss this chance. After the meeting, I asked her if she could linger behind so I could chat with her. I told her that maybe hiring in Nashville could be a possibility, since I would be more than willing to move out there to help start the team. This, she said, changed the conversation a lot.
Not two weeks later, I was sitting in a meeting with my manager, her manager, and the director of our department. Together, they laid out some important factors and a lengthy list of pros and cons concerning the move. After discussing a bit, they asked if this was still something I would want.
I nervously said, “Yes, this is still something I want (read: need) to do.” Then I asked what kind of timeline I would hypothetically be on, should this move be a possibility.
My director said if I gave the green light, they would need me there in two-and-a-half weeks.
TWO and a half.
That’s when I realized that this was no longer a hypothetical situation. No more if I will move out of California. No more how I will move. No more when I will move. If I said yes, this was happening. This was real.
I asked when they needed my for-sure answer.
“No later than 8 am tomorrow.”
To be continued…