In December 2015, I graduated with a degree I believed in but no job prospects to show for it. I was living in Los Angeles with my new husband, and we were a little afraid of the future. We had wonderful friends, the support of our families, and a great church community, but directionally, life felt ambiguous.
Admittedly, I am a dreamer. I have always believed that if you work hard, care more than anyone, and believe in yourself, then you can have the dream job. I call it optimism, others would call it idealism. But despite the haters, and the many who told me to just go and get a job at Starbucks, I knew there was more for me. I sensed, in the deep parts of my heart that something fulfilling was just around the corner.
Optimism pays off. In one month, my husband and I packed up our 500 sq. feet condo and decided to move back to my hometown in the San Francisco, Bay Area. The dream job was offered to us both, and we knew that this was the right move. It would be hard to leave what had become home for five years, along with our best friends, my husband’s family, and so much more, but none of those changes seemed like too much to handle. We said our goodbyes to the Los Angeles traffic, and said hello to our new home in the foggy Bay.
I cannot tell you the moment or the day, but I remember feeling, a few months into our new life, that I had said yes to something that scared me. I had stepped into the unknown and had removed much of the comfort and normal our lives had grown upon. I knew what coffee shops I loved in LA. I liked what my day to day life looked like there — nothing was new. And here I was, in an incredibly different circumstance, unsure of everything. I was living the dream without the handbook I thought it included.
What if I’m actually terrible at my job? What if I never make friends like the ones I had? What if life never feels normal again? If I miss my life in LA, does that mean I made the wrong decision? Questions swirled through my mind like leaves in the wind, never quite finding a solid place to land. I felt embarrassed for suddenly living in fear when in December, I had worn my hope for the dream job like a badge. This could just be a bad day, not a bad decision. I didn’t want to flee from this opportunity because it was hard — but what if the hard was the sign that it was wrong? But then again, what if the hard was exactly what I needed to stick out? After all, this was everything I had hoped for. This is was everything I had moved my life for.
I didn’t want to flee from this opportunity because it was hard — but what if the hard was the sign that it was wrong?
Through it all I’ve learned that, sometimes, discomfort is the point. We can be so quick to put ourselves in situations where everything feels only normal and right, for the sake of our pride or just because it feels better. Now, almost a year into our new life in the Bay Area, I am more convinced than ever that hard is part of the process. Often, the hard parts are our teachers.
I wasn’t bad at my new job, but being good at it right away wasn’t real. I was so busy putting unrealistic expectations on myself to be the expert that I was missing out on the best experience life has to offer: learning. I didn’t need to make friends like the ones I had, because I had never lost those friends in the first place. (That’s why Facetime exists!) Over time, as wise and loving people in my life told me to breathe and stay in the midst of change, life took on a new normal. A beautiful, life-altering, life-giving, and challenging normal.
We aren’t always giving everything up as much as our lives are just growing in their capacity to carry more lessons. Perspective is everything, and if we can learn to look at the unknown as an exciting adventure, it will become one! Does the difficulty sometimes warrant a shift or going back? Sure! Going back requires just as much courage as it does to stay. I suppose time, and really listening to your heart, are the best ways to tell.
Here is an honest truth about transition: It is really hard. But there lies an even greater, worthier truth beneath: If you can stay when it all feels uncomfortable, and when the change you’ve said yes to starts to hurt, then you will come out stronger, wiser, and ready for anything. So do not be so quick to label the hard in your life as wrong. Be willing to let change really show you how innately resilient you are.
When have you “stayed” through something hard? What did you learn through that?
Feature Image via Elle Daniels