Everything I still owned after downsizing my Midwest life could fit in the back of a rented compact SUV. At 25, I couldn’t decide if that was exciting or depressing. I had 900 miles to figure out what the hell I was going to do on the other side of this drive.
I didn’t know anyone.
I had no where to live.
And I had only seen Austin once.
I thought I was brave but my friends and family were looking at me like I was a fruitcake.
Joyfear had been burning in the bottom of my belly and deep into my bones since the day I said it out loud for the first time, “I’m moving to Austin.”
I drove all night. Partly because I was determined to see my first sunrise in the great state of Texas… but probably more so because it’s hard to sleep when you have no idea how you’re going to pull something this crazy off all by yourself.
As I watched everything familiar and comfortable disappear in my rearview mirror, somehow I knew that even if I fell on my face, I would still be moving forward.
That was two years ago today. August 29th, 2012.
I had no idea that as every white line whizzed by the questions would grow bigger before the answers would feel closer. I was simultaneously making one of the hardest, yet most rewarding decision of my life to date.
And it would change everything.
730 days later…
I’ve missed birthdays of best friends.
I’ve been absent for the passing of family members and the births of the babies of those I love.
And although there has been a lot that I couldn’t be present for; I’ve been busy getting a full time education on what happens when you go all in on your dreams.
Here’s what giving it all up and leaving the Midwest behind has taught me in two years.
Maybe it will give you a swift kick in the pants to chase whatever your big scary dream is, (aka. your own Austin).
1. Not everyone is going to understand – and they don’t have to. Your life is not their journey.
When I told everyone I was packing up and moving to a new city where I knew no one for the second time, a few people rolled their eyes. Not everyone understood, and I didn’t need them to. My journey was not their journey and I didn’t have to live my life the way that other people expected me to.
People who are out making a difference in the world are not like everyone else. Sorry I’m not sorry, I don’t have 2.5 kids, a Prius, and a white picket fence.
2. No matter where you are (at some point) somewhere else will always look better.
Even though I’ve loved Austin since day numero uno, very few realize that there were moments I was in tears missing friends, family and the safety of back home. I wanted to give up. You can be in the most amazing place in your journey (or dream) and it doesn’t mean you won’t still want to bail.
Stick it out.
Don’t forget why you left.
Remember why you started.
Just keep going.
Even though I love where I live it doesn’t mean somedays I didn’t want to give up in defeat along the way. It’s just part of the process. It’s not supposed to be easy, or everyone would be doing it.
Don’t make long term decisions during temporary frustrations.
It will pass if you stick with it.
3. You’re capable of more than you think if you would just give yourself the chance to prove it.
My first year and a half in Austin I lived with complete strangers multiple times. Prior, I would have never thought I could handle crashin’ with Craigslist crazies. But when you gotta put your grown folks drawers on and figure it out, you do whatcha gotta do.
You’ll never hit a home run sittin’ in the dugout like a putz. So step up to the plate and fall on your face if you have to… but I think you’ll be really surprised what you can do if you just give yourself the chance.
4. Appreciate differences, don’t compare them.
The sleepy cow-town I grew up in will always be home.
Saint Louis will always be home.
Austin will always be home.
Every place that I travel to and learn, love and grow in, will always be home.
Who I am in each of these phases and the affinity I have for these places does not have to compete. The same way lovers carve out special spaces in our hearts, we love them all in their own unique way. No one will ever replace the love I have for each of these places (and the faces) that make them feel like home.
5. Just because you ask and the universe [God/etc] doesn’t deliver doesn’t mean your answer isn’t on the way.
I spent the first 25 years of my life throwing darts at the map thinking some other city could squash the restlessness I felt. When I made a quest out west and my heart whispered, “no, not here Kendra…” I felt like a fool. And for two years before I left (again) for Austin, I got a lot of jokes about my west coast move that lasted about as long as most peeps yearly vacations.
Looking back now, I realize we can’t always see plans in motion by forces greater than ourselves. Who I became by givin’ the middle finger to the city of angels is a part of myself I now appreciate. And by looking at why it didn’t work out, I was better prepared to give it a go again 2 years later when I moved to Austin. PS. LA, I still think you suck. I don’t care if everyone else thinks you’re cool. *middle finger* 😉
6. Your heart will break when an old “home” no longer feels like home.
I’ll never forget the time I went home and I realized someone who I thought was going to be a life long best friend had became an at-best acquaintance. It was hard. I was mega-super-duper-bummed.
But not everyone will stay in our lives forever. Some are just meant to teach us lessons, and then they leave. It’s our choice how we experience it and what we learn.
Times change, people change, and I had changed. Sometimes the biggest test of strength you’ll ever have is to let go when you’re not quite ready yet. #ToughStuffForREAL
7. You can always go back but you’ll never be the same again.
Even if you fall on your face and everyone laughs, they’ll quietly wish they were brave enough to at least give it a shot.
When you return you’ll see your old city with new eyes and extra colors. There’s somethin’ about seein’ the rest of the world outside of where you grew up that cracks you open and pours in a brightness that will illuminate your life in a new light.
Going back to where you started is not the same as never leaving. Someone brave enough to leave isn’t the same as the coward who keeps kickin’ it in their comfort zone.
Puh-lease, risk falling on your face.
You’ll still be ahead of everyone too afraid to give their dreams a shot. #BOOM
Moving To A New City Isn’t For Everyone
But I think we all have our own version of “Austin.”
A dream, a calling, an adventure… something that feels at least a little out of reach.
Something we fall asleep thinkin’ about or wake up wishin’ for.
You were not meant for a mundane or mediocre life my friend. You don’t have to live your life the way that other people expect you to. Take chances now so you can tell the stories when you’re old.
If you’re breathing right now, I promise you, it’s not too late.
But one day; it will be.
So please, go fall on your face. And for everyone who sits back and calls your dreams or ideas crazy, that’s ok. Love them anyway because… they just don’t know any better. It’s easier to tear someone down than build yourself up to their level.
Decide you’ll do it with or with out them… and you’ll be surprised what happens when you go to bat for yourself.
I’m rooting for you.