The biggest changes in my life have happened over this past year. Both physically and mentally. But, the most significant changes have been mentally.
The physical part — moving away from my family and closest friends, from my hometown, to live in a big city. It’s the classic tale of a small town girl moving to a big city. I moved from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Chicago, Illinois. This was the first time I had been more than a short driving distance from my parents.
I settled into the city immediately. It never felt out of the ordinary. I have never once regretted my decision to move. Although it was a smooth transition, it was still a big change.
The mental part — the majority of the change here has happened in the past couple of months. I lost my job, which to many would be devastating and scary. For me, it was like the biggest weight on my shoulders had been lifted. I was miserable. However, that’s not to say that I haven’t gone through a slew of emotions since then. Although I wasn’t happy in my job, there is something about being let go/having your position eliminated that makes you question whether you are good enough. And, telling other people I had been let go was shameful and embarrassing. I’m honestly not sure why. This was probably the best thing that could have happened to me at this point in my life. I wasn’t doing something I thoroughly enjoyed. I would wait until the last possible moment to get out of bed in the morning and even then had to give myself a pep talk. Saying, ‘You’re an adult. You have to work. You have responsibilities. You can’t call in sick. This is your commitment.’ It took a lot out of me. This is no exaggeration. Then I would stare at the clock all day counting down the hours until I could leave. This is not the life to live. At least not the type I wanted to live. It was mentally draining. So why then, did I feel ashamed and embarrassed? Was it more the stigma society has around people being laid-off or was it the faces of people I told which said ‘I feel sorry for you’? Maybe it was a mixture of the two. Eventually, that phase passed. I think after telling so many people, you learn to move past their faces and their judgments (not the ones they physically say, but the ones their body language says) because you’ve come to terms with it and you are ok, even happy, with what has transpired.
Then there was the excited phase. I have all this free time. To explore parts of the city I had yet to make it to. To read more books. To start a blog I had been contemplating for I don’t even know how long. (Here we go!) To plan trips (a couple on the horizon). To think about what I want to do next… I can do anything. I can go anywhere. What do I truly want?
After that came the stress with a mixture of boredom. I needed to be very conservative with my money (and still do) because at a point and time in the future it’s going to stop coming in, but will continue to go out. Trying to be conservative, I stopped going out to do things and spent a lot of time sitting in my apartment. I binge watched a lot of Netflix during this period. There truly is only so much Netflix you can watch until you become bored of that. I wasn’t committing to my barre classes (my workout). I was in a slump. It was a very gloomy period of time. Thank god that phase has passed.
Now, I have finally gotten to a place of bliss. I’m so happy knowing what’s on the horizon in the short term and knowing that I have the ability to change the direction of my life for the long term.
Through all of this, I have spent most of it by myself. Which probably contributed to all the extreme emotions. There were times where I just wanted to be surrounded by people, but it was a Wednesday afternoon and all my friend were at work with the jobs they still had. That would send me into a deeper sadness. However, if I would have had my way in those moments, I would have been avoiding all my emotions and likely there would have been several drinks involved. So, I am grateful for this time I have had to myself. I am an emotional person. As much as I hate to admit it. I try to mask a lot of it; make myself seem less emotional. But, I am a human being after all, so I’m emotional. Even though being forced to be alone and feel all of your feelings is tough, it’s also very healthy.
For me, I think this time has pushed me in a more positive direction. Losing my job gave me the chance to create more positive habits and a more positive mentality. I made a lot of excuses before for not doing certain things. The main one being that I was too busy. Well that is no longer an excuse. I have plenty of time on my hands these days.
By no means am I saying I am cured of bad habits and am now perfect (I will never be). Like I said, I’ve been alone for much of this time period, so it’s easy to maintain a positive mentality and cultivate positive habits when you’re the only person around. It’s another thing to maintain it all when you’re surrounded by others. It’s very true what they say, “You are who you surround yourself with.” I have great friends and family, but we do not all share the same beliefs and habits and some of my bad habits are enabled by those closest to me.
It’s not going to be easy; this will be a continuous process. I can’t just flip a switch and be different. I can work really hard to grow as a person and make positive changes in my life. By no means am I the same person today that I was seven years ago (when I was 18 and officially an adult who knew everything ;)). In another seven years I will be a different person than I am today. Hell, I hope to be a different person a year from now.
“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” – Mark Twain