There are a few things in life I just can’t wrap my head around.
- Why people buy jacket-vests, i.e. jackets without sleeves. (Aren’t. Your. Arms. Still. Going. To. Be. Cold??? I can’t compute this. If you’d care to educate me, please leave a comment below. I’m all ears.)
- The movie Inception.
- Why colleagues, recruiters, and mentors insist on me moving from Chicago to New York or LA.
Okay, yes, the winters here in Chicago SUCK. (I have a not-irrational fear of being impaled by a falling icicle.) And sure, it has a number of other issues.
But it’s home.
I’ve never lived in a different city. I never had the desire to.
Having grown up in the suburbs, I have my family and childhood friends here. I went to college here. I stayed here after college, and built a solid career here.
I know many people are itching to move away from home the first chance they get. To start anew, far away from overbearing family drama. To chart their own new life. To explore new sceneries.
Me? I’ve never lived in a different city. I never had the desire to up and leave and start fresh. (How un-Millennial of me!)
Everything I’ve needed has been right here. And if it’s not broke, why fix it?
A Sexy Career Move?
As I consider career opportunities in New York and LA, I’ve been randomly bumping into people who’ve moved here from those cities.
Were they happy with their decision to leave?
Their common reply: “Hell yes, no regrets.”
The reasons are many: Better cost of living in Chicago, less hectic, less traffic, better work/life balance, Midwestern values, an emerging tech/startup scene, easier to get around on public transit, being closer to family and friends.
(Not mentioned but probably implied: Easier access to cheese-filled foods.)
As I explore the next chapter of my career, it’s tempting to do the sexy thing and move to the coasts. The job titles there are sexy and offer sexy salaries. Sure, it’d make for a sexy LinkedIn update. And yes, a lot of my peers have made the move and have sexy lives on social media.
My point: It all seems like the sexy thing to do.
But maybe sexy isn’t all that it appears to be.
The people I talked to — those who moved from NYC/LA to Chicago — all mentioned how burned out they were in their former cities. How their quality of life sucked. How it felt like a constant rat race. How the career opportunities that took them to NYC/LA in the first place, eventually became the center of their lives. And not in a good way.
It all looked sexy at first, but ended up being a dud.
It’s like they got catfished by a city.
To jump on the bandwagon, or not…
This is a thing about ambition: It takes a lot of personal strength to be surrounded by people who are all reaching for the same brass ring and not think that you should be reaching for it too — regardless of whether you really like brass, or rings.
NYC and LA — and the glamorous careers/lifestyles they promise — are those brass rings for me. Turns out I don’t really like them, even if everyone else might. So why should I reach for them?
If you’re true to yourself, you’ll know the right decision.
I’m 33 right now. Single. No kids.
Maybe I’m an idiot for not pursuing these opportunities while it’s easier for me to do so?
But when I think about it more, I know deep down: “Nah, I’m good.”
I love this town. And I don’t intend on leaving.
I love the chill Midwestern vibes and my sanely priced condo.
Plus, I’m a mere 40 minutes away from my parents’ home cooking and our family dog, Nugget (see below). There’s no way I’m giving that up.
Shameless Plug: If you’re a Chicago company looking for an in-house creative and marketing wiz, drop me a line: hassan.s.ali [at] gmail.com