Goodbye, blinders

After seven months of living in Chicago (wait, how has it already been seven months?!) I’m just now starting to realize that my life is, and will remain to be, completely different than what it was when I lived in Buffalo.

Why that took me seven months is beyond me, but some light bulb moments have been going off lately that are opening my eyes in a big way.

Whenever anyone asks me why I moved, the answer is always the same – I moved for a gut feeling that I just had to listen to.

That’s 100% true. And then I was fortunate to serendipitously find a career that I absolutely adore.

But after seven months, I now know that things in Chicago are completely different than they were in Buffalo in every way.

The blinders are off, and now the reality of these facts is hitting me hard:

  • I have no family in Chicago, and none of my friends that I’ve had in my life up until this point are here, either (thank goodness for the friends I’ve made here thus far. Honestly, they’re dear to my heart for so many reasons.)
  • I don’t have the benefits and access of living in the same city where I went to school (I would have given anything to go to a Canisius College basketball game this season #gogriffs.)
  • My lifestyle here (primarily the long commute to work and not having a car anymore) limits my ability to wear multiple “hats” and invest my time in a variety of outlets like before – i.e. coaching cheerleading, volunteering, being an active member of different young professional groups, etc.

But then I have to stop and cut myself a freaken break already.

I was in Buffalo for SEVEN YEARS. And I’ve been in Chicago for SEVEN MONTHS (caps completely necessary.)

These things will take time.

But until then, the best thing I can do is continue to adapt to my new setting. And scheduling time with and for myself is the best way I’ve been able to do that.

Here are the two things I’ve taken immediate action on:

  • Prioritizing what makes me happy
    • Given the struggles of limited “free time” due to longer commutes, it’s important that I find convenient and efficient ways to accommodate the things that make me happy, like writing. So I bought a small 2lb tablet with an attachable keyboard that I can now take with me everywhere I go. This gives me the convenience to write whenever and wherever I want, which is exactly what i’m doing right now at a local coffee shop. Having that access is crucial for me.
  • Know when I need help, and then ask for it
    • I’m a major proponent of taking care of my mental health. I’ve gone to a counselor a number of times for a number of reasons throughout my life, and picking up my life and moving hundreds of miles away from everyone I love was a perfect reason for me to seek one out yet again. I now see someone a few times a month in order to help sort out my anxiety, stress, fears, and more importantly, my goals. It has been a great help, and it’s a commitment to my well-being that I plan on keeping for a long time to come.

Moving from Buffalo to Chicago is a change that threw my whole world for a loop in ways I didn’t even realize until months later. And now that the blinders are off, it’s been imperative for me to ask myself some tough questions, take a hard look at my immediate surroundings and then take action in order to make the most of this new chapter.

But I figure that if I can create a life I love in Buffalo, I can certainly do the same thing in Chicago.

Like anything else that’s worthwhile, it will just take time, patience, and a lot of love.

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Planning ahead

Given the number of curveballs i’ve endured over the past 26 years, I should really have a much better understanding that despite all good intentions, 99% of the time life simply does not go the way you planned.

Yet here I am, planning.

And more so than that, i’m trying to understand the difference between planning for things that you can generally control, and planning for things that are still very much a work in progress.

On the one hand, i’m planning for an upcoming trip to Austin, Texas to attend the SXSW Interactive Festival on behalf of my company – Creative Circle. I’ve been wanting to attend SXSW for years and I’m ecstatic to finally have the opportunity to go. So for this, i’m planning: the sessions I want to attend, dinners I want to go to with colleagues, a visit to one of my client’s office because in addition to Chicago they also have a presence in Austin. I’m researching, i’m learning, and i’m planning.

On the other hand, I’m in an absolutely wonderful and fulfilling relationship with the best guy I could ever ask to have by my side. But I live in Chicago, and he lives in New York. We’re planning on him moving here sometime this summer. However, there’s a lot to think about and take in when it comes to such a major change. It will be a new chapter of our relationship in a city that i’ve only been in for seven months, and one that will be new to him, as well.

Planning for that major change has been overwhelming. And not in a bad way, but in a “big picture, big questions” kind of way – summer is our ballpark timeframe, but does that mean June, July, August? What if his job situation doesn’t pan out the way we hope it does? What if he hates it here? What’s our next step once he’s finally here? How long does this chapter last for us?

There are so many questions that, at least right now, are nothing more than hypotheticals. So in essence, we really can’t do much planning at the moment. More details have to fall into place, more time needs to pass, more patience needs to be practiced.

Yet the same question has continued to circle my mind time and time again – how soon is too soon to start planning?

Of course when it comes to financial planning, health and fitness goals, etc. it makes sense to get as much of a head start as possible. But in terms of everyday living, it feels to me that it’s more important to make a firm decision about what it is you want, and then put faith and trust into that decision until it’s close enough to plan and then take action on.

Sure, you can map things out, research, learn, and schedule until you have every minute of your life lined up. But at the end of the day, life generally has more plans in store for you than you have in store for yourself.

So go ahead and make a goal, and then take steps to get yourself there in the timeframe you allotted. Just do it knowing that the road to get there will more than likely come with a different set of detours than you could have ever imagined possible.

Plans change every single day. But that’s the fun of it, don’t you think?