Reflect[in]’ on 2015.
Here at LinkedIn there’s a monthly institution called “In Day,” (aka “investment day”). Each month, one day is set aside for employees to invest in themselves and their career around a given theme. The final InDay of the year is “Reflection In Day” — a very appropriate way to wrap up the year, and a very appropriate time to publish my first-ever post on LinkedIn.
What a year it’s been for little ol’ Chelsea. In 2015 I was challenged. I was rocked. I was shaken to my core on more than one occasion. I learned. I grew. I took risks and made leaps. More so than any year in my life to date, this one was transformative; I rounded a corner and my life took off in a new direction.
It started in early January when I was jolted awake one morning from a deep slumber to a very surprising, out-of-the-blue thought: this is the year I leave Las Vegas. I had known for the past 4 years that Vegas was not the place I wanted to be long-term. I had known for a while that it was not a sustainable place for my hopes and dreams to manifest. I had known that it was meant to be temporary. But I had yet to make any short-or-long-term plans to leave. I hadn’t even begun to think about where I wanted to go next or what I wanted to do next or what my timeframe was for getting there. But I knew on some level that this thought, which arguably could have been as insignificant as the dream from which I awoke, was actually a premonition.
I carried on with my year, alternating between the idea of leaving and the comfort of the stable environment I had cultivated for myself. I was cozy in my one-bedroom apartment in Vegas that was a 5 minute walk to work, where I spent my days working and playing with my closest friends. I didn’t necessarily feel readyto leave, but then again, I am not one who welcomes change — never have been. In my comfortable life, I got to travel often, see a concert any (and every) day of the week, entertain frequent visitors, and live right down the road from my parents. I was content. But I also felt a constant nagging in the back of my mind that I had become too comfortable, to the point that I was no longer moving forward; I was stagnant. I need a little shake up, some excitement, a change. I acknowledged this for the first time, wholeheartedly, as I was walking home from work one evening in June (6 months after the original thought occurred).
Not two weeks later I received news that my stable, comfortable social media job, that I had loved and worked hard at for 3 years, was going away. The company was folding, and all of us were getting laid off. The rug had been pulled and I was not, in any way, prepared for the fall. That day will go down in the history of my life as one of the most difficult days I’ve ever experienced, resulting in a panic attack on the side of Las Vegas Boulevard in 107 degree heat with tears streaming down my face, snot running out of my nose, and my heart racing so fast I could have internally combusted on the spot. My career, my friends, my apartment — my LIFE! — was instantaneously evaporating. I couldn’t salvage this, and I knew it only meant one thing for me: big, massive, life-altering change was on the way. I immediately thought back to that January morning and knew that this, right here, was it. This was the moment. It was happening right now. I was going to leave Las Vegas.
I cried for the next month in between job interviews and helping the company wind down to a close. It was heartbreaking and stressful. I was forced to leave behind a job I loved and my family of colleagues as I headed into completely unchartered waters. I hadn’t the faintest idea where I was headed but I knew that there were three important things I would not compromise on for my next play:
- A job I would love. I knew it was possible, because I’d had it before.
- Co-workers I would love. I knew it was possible, because I’d had it before.
- A city I would love. I knew it was possible because I’d had it before.
Based on those criteria, I began setting my sights on San Francisco. And I became obsessed. I made deliberate, intentional moves to get there, and I began to work for it. Hard. I networked with every person I knew in the city. I researched the best neighborhoods, coffee shops, and things to do on the weekends. As cheesy as it might sound, I even created a vision board, and I went to sleep every night picturing myself walking down the streets of San Fran, wearing a scarf, smiling next to Karl the Fog, and laughing with my best friend who already lived there. I was THAT intentional about this move.
And then I came across a job that literally called out to my soul as if to say, I hand picked this one just for you, Chelsea! (in a Marcel the Parcel voice). It was an Account Manager role at LinkedIn that met all of my criteria. It fit my background and my skill set, was in San Francisco, MY BEST FRIEND WORKED THERE ALREADY, and I could tell from the very first interview that it was the perfect fit for me. The job was mine for the taking. That day, despite the shell-shock I had experienced and the wake-up call that nearly broke me two weeks prior, I decided to put my head down and bust my ass for the opportunity. I stayed up late prepping for my next interview, spent time working with a career counselor, did mock-interviews with anyone who would quiz me, and practiced my powerpoint presentation while I was supposed to be relaxing with family in Yosemite.
The day the offer letter came, was shortly followed by a lot of screaming and tears of joy. I knew that I was officially on my way to living the dream life that I had crafted for myself, and I was overwhelmed with new emotions: gratitude, joy, excitement.
I hate change. I hate it so much. But I also know (through a Liz Lemon eye-roll) that I need change in order to progress as a person. I needed this to happen so my life could move forward. I learned a ton from this experience:
- Sometimes your lowest point can actually turn into your highest.My lowest point of the year absolutely turned out to be a catalyst into my highest point when I received my offer letter from LinkedIn and moved to SF two days later. If it feels like rock bottom, there’s no better time to dig yourself out and find your blue skies.
- It never happens how you think it’s going to happen. When I originally thought This is the year I leave Las Vegas, I never imagined how it would go down. I never imagined I would lose my job and be forced to leave. I always thought I would leave when I was ready and make conscious choices along the way. The universe laughed at me.
- I probably never would have left if it didn’t go down this way. I was too comfortable and stable to willingly shake up my world. And although this situation initially felt like the end of my life, it actually was just the beginning, and probably the best thing that could have possibly happened to me in 2015.
- Life is going to keep moving forward, and you have to roll with it.I’m getting better at this one! I’ve always been a planner, needing to know every single detail about every single thing, but I’ve realized it’s just impossible. Even a premonition could not have predicted the year I’ve had. So many things are out of our control, and we have no choice but to trust in the journey and roll with the punches. I got beat up this year, but I’m a stronger fighter because of it. #RouseyInTheMaking
- You CAN manifest your dreams. It might sound silly, but the vision boards and the conscious dreaming are what got me here. Not moving to San Francisco was not an option in my eyes, and I was going to move whether I landed my dream job or not. Thankfully my dream job, my dream apartment, and my dream life were all waiting patiently for me. Some might say the stars truly aligned, but I might argue that I wouldn’t have allowed them to fall any other way.
- Gratitude is everything. EVERYTHING. More than anything else I’ve felt this year — sadness, anguish, despair, happiness, contentment, excitement — I feel grateful. I’m grateful that this happened to me. I’m grateful for the lessons it taught me. I’m grateful for the people who pushed me, supported me, and listened to me spill my guts along the way. I’m incredibly grateful for my new job at LinkedIn that I absolutely adore, and I’m tremendously grateful that I’m exactly where I want to be, in San Francisco living my actualdream life. This is 100% where I was meant to end up, and I will express my gratitude every single day for the rest of my life.
I’ll sign off with a quote that really resonated with me this year, from Nancy Pelosi: “Be ready. Just be ready. You just don’t know what opportunity might be out there.” If I could add a Chelsea-ism to the end of that quote it would be this: Work hard for what you want, and find a way to make it happen. Listen when the universe or God or whatever you believe in is trying to tell you something. Don’t settle. Don’t give up, even if you find yourself sobbing on the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard feeling like your life is in shambles. Trust the journey and be grateful for the opportunities it presents along the way. Then hit the ground running and start fully living.