It was in June that I decided I needed to make the change: to finally follow the voice that’s been telling me for almost two years that I wanted to move from my hometown, Austin. Yes, I’d been fortunate to leave for college in Massachusetts, study abroad in Spain, travel Europe, Mexico, and live in DC post-college; yes, it was my choice to move home in 2013, to re-engage with Texas politics, work for institutions to uplift Latina girls, and re-create a network in a place that was “home”, but only as a 17 year-old; yes, Austin is absolutely one of the best places to be in in terms of livability, happiness level, job growth, and affordability (for many) and everyone wants to live there. Nevertheless, something felt off.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the past five years since graduating college is to have the self-confidence to listen to my gut.
This wasn't always the case, though. I was raised to side with hard logic, practicality, and risk-aversion - as is common of many who come from an immigrant family, always a bit fearful of losing the little we’ve got. This always caused a bit of a divide between me and my emotions. It was maturity - my early twenties' years of rejections, heartbreaks, missteps, and failures - that forced me to start giving my emotions the time of day, if just for survival. The increased boldness I garnered in my early twenties also taught me about risk: you can’t win big unless you’re willing to risk something. Risk also comes with uncomfortable emotions you have to learn to accept.
So after some vacillation, in early July, I started making calls. I started talking with my New York friends about their advice on how to move up here. A few weeks before August, a friend opens up that I can rent her room in Brooklyn from her starting in August for as long as I need. At the same time, someone wants to sublease my Austin studio. I line up some job interviews and come up north to start getting momentum going.
After a week in New York, then back in Austin, now back to New York, I’m officially HERE.
It still doesn't feel real. It all happened so fast. Yesterday, I took my one-way flight to the city. Almost immediately upon landing, the self-judgement and fear started to flood back in. I’m nervous that my move shows me as immature and impractical by society's standards: I didn’t move for some dream job, there’s no fiancé I’m following, and it wasn’t for grad school. There was no pre-made plan or institution that made this jump "logical" - if anything, it was illogical. Moving is expensive, stressful, and there are always going to be unforeseen obstacles and costs. Doing so without a real job lined-up made me feel even more reckless.
Regardless, I'm using the support and love I've felt from others in this transition to calm myself down in these moments of fear.
I'm grasping to words from friends and peers who have told me, when I've tried to intellectualize the move, that it's ok to not do so. It's ok to just need variety and different energy in one's life. It's ok to leap, if partially just so you can look back at yourself when you're ninety and, despite the pain and discomfort that will follow, know that it was worth it. It's ok to take risks if just to live your biggest and best life.
I'm truly blown away by the support everyone has shown me in my move. I have not felt judged, or lectured at that I was doing anything wrong (there are enough of those scripts going on in my logic-fueled head). On Monday, I had a going-away happy hour in Austin at which I saw dozens of friends from across all of my different circles - from my time in politics, in nonprofit, in the startup and tech world. Everyone came together to see me off and offer support. I don't recall any real questions around what "my plan" was New York. I was just met with a message of "you got this".
And, I certainly need that.
I had a phone screening with a company this morning for which I'd love to work. I'm continuing to fill out my Google Spreadsheet with all of opportunities you all have sent my way. The grind is continuing. However, I'm also trying to give myself a moment to soak this in. I'm still exhausted from traveling and running around Austin saying goodbyes and closing up projects the last week. I am being patient with myself and telling myself it's "ok" to be kind to myself - to give myself a beat, and accept where I am with my relationship with "the hustle". I'm finally listening to myself.
I put up (most of) the cards you all gifted me on the mantle piece in the Brooklyn room from where I'm writing this. The last week in Austin particularly reminded me of how much love and community I built over my last four years there. Austin allowed me to slow down enough to get centered and reconnect to my feelings, reconnect with what I want in relationships, and to listen to my emotions instead of striving for constant achievement (my default). It let me truly connect with others - be it days at Barton Springs, "coffee shop-ing" with friends all over East Austin, volunteering, working together, or sharing margs at Polvo's. It let me reconnect with my family, make peace with parts of childhood that still had weighed on me. Austin facilitates space for connection and affinity; I'm not sure I could have found this anywhere else and in exactly the place in my life where I needed it.
Even though inner peace, loving relationships, and a good relationship with myself are immeasurable, I know I'm now more self-assured going forward in my next steps because I spent time re-building this foundation.
(And maybe it's these "immeasurables" in life that can be felt, not calculated in a spreadsheet, that matter most in the end.)
I will be thankful until the end of my days for these last four years in the prime of my life home - in a city that was comfortable, but also changing rapidly everyday. I've changed along with it. I'm experiencing a special kind of satisfaction of knowing that I spent my time well - maybe this can only be felt when assessed retrospectively; maybe not. Regardless, this has motivated me to strive in my life to constantly create that sense of satisfaction - to know in my gut that what I'm doing is right by me.
As I write this in New York, I know being here is right where I need to be. I feel it.
I hope you take the time to feel if where you are is right, too.