Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Diaries of a Girl, Searching for a Job in her BF's City

There are certain situations that arise and really test the true colors of those around you. For instance, when an emergency happens. Like when you accidentally put your contact into straight hydrogen peroxide solution and then try to put it back in your eye. A moment of panic (when your eye burns so bad it feels like it's getting sucked into your brain) is a great test of character.  And when a suitor comes to the rescue, splashing water in your face and helping to pry your eye open, well that’s when you know you found a keeper. 
 It wasn’t long after I met this one that I thought we’d be spending some time together. Until of course, he dropped the “PS I’m moving to Texas” bomb. Over the next few months I spent my time weighing the options.  Should I move to Texas with him/can I even do that/do I need to invest in cowboy boots? Day after day, I tried to rationalize the situation and find clarity.  
I realized leaving college meant I had no strings attached and was free to start my career anywhere.  I began consulting my support system of family and friends.  Unfortunately most had the same reaction, all pro staying in IL. But where was the adventure in that?
I didn’t want to hear the practical scenario of staying in the safe zone.  I wanted someone to tell me to follow my heart and take the risks because somehow it would be worth it. I needed an unbiased perspective, so I started sharing my dilemma with random people. And to my surprise, they were unanimously team Texas. Now that was the real advice I was looking for.
“Do it. You can always move back home but you can’t always move away”-nurse at the foot doctor
“Listen to that little part of your heart deep down, you know what you want to do. If you don’t do it now, you may miss your chance" -recruiter from a Latino agency I accidentally applied to
“You’ll make sacrifices to move there, but you’ll also be making sacrifices if you don’t”- boss
 With a boost of morale and a pinch of confidence, I decided it was time to start working on Operation: Houston.
I knew the first thing that was going to get me there was a job.  So I applied to about 56 jobs online before finally acknowledging I needed a more active plan than  I reached out to my network and eventually made my way to TX for a city visit. I felt ready to take the bull by the horns, one awkward cold call/email/meeting at a time.  When I got there, I had a handful of meetings and informational interviews set up.
Going so far out of your comfort zone is a bit terrifying. It’s nice when people you reach out to recognize and respect you for it.  Not so nice when someone uses the opportunity to kick you when you’re down.
I encountered one Debbie Downer on my first visit, and with a condescending attitude she gave me the reality check I didn’t need.  It was mostly rhetorical questions with undertones of, “You’re an idiot for moving here for your boyfriend.”   But why can’t a girl try to start her career in the same city as her man? Does that somehow make me a less career driven individual because I value a relationship over a city? I shrugged off her negative aura because shedding tears in my future hometown was not on my agenda. Besides, 1 rude person and a lot of nice ones meant the odds were still ever in my favor.
The others I met were great, giving me advice spanning from new organizations and people to meet, to ideas on the living and salary situation I would need to survive. When talking about the cost of living, one lady said, “And food, well it doesn’t look like you eat….small children or anything.” Back handed skinny compliment, I’ll take it. She ended up being alright because she moved to ATL for a man once so she understood my story.  “You have to be a strong person to pick up and move to a new state, that says a lot about you.”  The most stressed I have even been in my life, I knew this maneuver would require quite a bit of strength, planning and emotional support.
With a pile of thank you notes and a list of new Texas things to look into, I said my goodbyes as the sun set on Houston and made my way back to Chicago. On the plane I tried to think of the best career scenario with every company.  Utterly overwhelmed by all the other factors people told me I needed to take into consideration, I wondered about financial stability, work experience and where I would be happiest at. In the midst of my thoughts, I was interrupted.  The lights on the plane shut off.
“You know there’s a plane light above!” piped the chubby little girl in the seat next to me. Observant and cheery, this little chiquita noticed my strained focus and was helping a sister out.
After trying to network with adults the past few days, talking with a child came so easily—it was so relieving. I felt completely myself in front of a little girl with no expectations, just merely wanting a friend.  And once the convo got started with Chatty Cathy Jr., the end was no where in sight. In between hearing about her fourth grade life and pet Chihuahua named Jalapeno, I may or may not have zoned out and had an epiphany.
What if this situation really wasn't that complicated and I really could just follow my instincts and <3 and everything would work out? Maybe figuring out my career and life wasn’t going to be that hard after all.
Epiphanies on planes are an interesting thing.  Maybe it’s the quiet time you spend alone thinking, so far removed from civilization that you can zoom out and put the pieces together.  It feels like you're just far enough to finally see the bigger picture. All I know is that after talking with my little seatmate, I felt a new sense of confidence and direction in my journey. 
Back on land with my future TBD, "searching for a job in my BF's city girl", signing out until next time. 

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