Moving from my hometown and embracing fear
My journey of ‘breaking free of fear’ started when I lived in Tampa, FL.
I had a good job, worked from home, I had an OK life. What people did not see was the anger I had with myself for not moving to NYC. I wanted to live there since I was 7 and yet I was still living in a place I didn’t really like (sorry Tampa friends and fam). Tampa was a place where I didn’t feel i was living to my full potential. A place I was really BORED with! At that time there wasn’t much of a beer scene, we had only gotten our first food truck in about 2008 (10 years after the rest of the country), downtown was a ghost town most days but especially weekends, no ramen either.
All the while I had my imaginary NYC life in my head, it made me cry that I was turning 30 and had not pursued any of that fantasy.
Finally an opportunity arose in 2013. My boss had been hinting for months that he wanted to open an office in Raleigh, NC. I didn’t take it that seriously as he often talked of things being “for sure happening” that didn’t otherwise materialize. But this time, it was for real, not a drill!
I was faced with some tough quick decisions I needed to sort out. Was this finally my chance to break away from a place where I didn’t want to live but was otherwise familiar with? What was going to happen with my relationship with my partner of 6 years, Otto?
Otto and I had on-and-off talked about moving, mostly at my insistence and he just was never ready. We both have family in Tampa, we grew up there, we owned a condo, didn’t have terrible jobs. Was it worth taking this risk?
I knew in my heart I was done with Tampa, I was ready to roll the dice no matter what happened, I was not going to cry anymore about not pursuing my dreams.
“WHAT WE FEAR OF DOING MOST IS USUALLY WHAT WE MOST NEED TO DO”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
After some long nights thinking, talking to my mom, and myself I came to a decision.
I went to Otto, and said “Im going to Raleigh, I dont want to break up but this is something I have to do.”
Without hesitation he said “Well, let’s go check it out and go from there” — I was shocked, truly, I had visualized venturing off by myself into my new unknown. Never ever did I think he would be willing to try to go on this journey with me.
We went to Raleigh, picked an apartment based on our new favorite beer spot (and the amazing pretzels) and that was it, we were North Carolinians now!
What about NYC?
Ok, you may know that I currently live in NYC but I had tell you this part because North Carolina was the start of everything. North Carolina was the first step to help me break out of the pattern of holding myself back. In Raleigh, my new home, I had to force myself into situations to find new friends, to discover new things, to be away from the only one place I knew as home for the first time.
I found out quickly that Raleigh was awesome. People were nice, there was seasons, I could wear jackets, there was a huge beer and music scene…
What’s not to love?
Well, the politics are a bit off but, meh.
This was a place that built up my confidence in myself.
It hasn't been easy and still isn’t sometimes. But Raleigh was the place where I started talking to complete strangers and meeting random people by myself at concerts, things I was FAR to anxious to do before. If you know me personally you’re probably asking yourself “Well, Erin never seems shy to me, nor anxious” — and I’ve heard people say that to me, to which Isay ‘thank you.’ Social situations I’m almost always battling a constant feeling to run away.
My level of anxiety, especially in public is often crippling. Too many times I’ve stood outside the bar or event and just said to myself ‘I’m going home, I can’t.’
What Raleigh did for me is push me to fight this even harder. To embrace the awkward and try as hard as possible to just try to be personable. Was it 100 great all the time? F**K NO, but the times that it was great has formed some of the strongest friendships and experiences I could have ever asked for.
Before I go back to my NYC part of the story I want to finish out this thought: this fear, anxiety, and self loathing doesn’t ever go away; you only get better at turning down the volume on its voice. Its perfectly ok to feel these things, I mean without them you would probably be a self absorbed narcissist right!?!?
What I’m getting at is when I’m at an event, party or anything (especially sober) it likely took a lot of fighting with my bad thoughts to get me there.
I say to myself:
— You look stupid.
— No one likes you.
— They all think youre a joke.
Im crying as I write this because if someone said those things to me in person i’d tell them to f**k off yet I say them to myself ALL THE TIME and allow it to hold me back from doing things seeing people that I love.
OK BACK TO STORY TIME!
While I lived in Raleigh, NYC wasn’t far from my mind. I would often fly up for the weekend, alone, just to get a quick fix then return home. I had done this 3 or 4 times while living in NC.
I didn’t set this up before but I will now, Otto travels for work, not just during the week but for months at a time. He had been doing this off and on since we moved to NC. I hope to write about semi long distance relationships in another piece but for the sake of this it’s not super related. The reason I mention it is we would talk every night on the phone, there was ‘I miss you’s’ ‘when are you coming home,’ etc. But over months and months of these calls Otto was building up this idea.
One night while discussing lusting over NYC stuff he said to me:
O. Why don’t you just go?
Me. I don’t have a job, no one is responding to my applications.
O. Go anyway
Me.I don’t have enough money
O. I can help you
Me.I can’t have you do that
O. No I want to, for you. Im never home and it doesn’t make sense for you to live somewhere alone and it not be really where you want to live.
*start the tear train*
I had a friend that I dumped all this on at the time to have her give me her opinion on what to do. Without hesitation she said ‘OMG do it!’ I said, well it’s not easy but I think i should. ‘Um yea go for it!’ - she said.
Over the next couple months I tried to figure out what to do, I had 6 months left on a lease, I had to give notice to work, I had to find a place to live in the city. It was a lot and f**king scary!
I wanted to talk to my boss about quitting first and just get that out of the way. I love the people I work with and my boss so I was shaking and fighting tears when I walked into my boss’ office.
We bullshitted for a bit when he finally asked:
Rob. Do what did you need to talk about
Me. I’ve decided to move to NYC
He often would type on his computer during these meetings, he’s a good multi tasker that way, he would seem to not be listening but If i called him out on it he had the uncanny ability to repeat back everything I said. Its pretty crazy to see. But this was one of those times he broke from that. He stopped, looked at me and asked:
Me. Because I want to
Rob. Do you have a job
Me. No, but i’ll figure something out, (voice shaking trying not to cry)
Rob. Well…you can’t quit
Me. What do you mean, thats what I’m telling you
Rob. Just tell me when we’re starting a NYC office
No shit, that’s what happened. And although the company couldn’t pay me a competitive salary in the city, I didn’t care, I was on my way!
A couple months later I broke my lease, Otto and I packed up our things including our 2 cats and drove a 16’ Penske moving truck up 95. Next stop NYC.
Failure is always a possibility, always, but you know what’s worse than failure? Regret. Yea, f**k regret.
NOW the reason I tell you all this is because all this was the first baby steps to get me outside my comfort zone, to force me to embrace the unknown. Failure is always a possibility, always, but you know what’s worse than failure? Regret. Yea, f**k regret.
Also It might go with out saying, Ive been incredibly lucky. BUT I never would have known that had I not pushed myself to leave or try to quit my job.
Have less “what ifs” in your life
Id much rather fall on my face, have everyone laugh behind my back, put myself in some super awkward situations, than ever wonder “what if.”
My journey feels like it’s only really just started. I know that as I keep going I will continue to push myself to do more and be more when I remind myself to not hold myself back.