In between speaking sessions at a client conference in Tampa, my coworker and I checked email and scrolled through social media feeds to kill time. We talked about how banal our lives were at that moment, sitting in this empty warehouse listening to a man with a strong Long Island accent speak about truck fleet maintenance. She showed me friends of hers who had picked up and moved to Spain and ate cheese, bread, and wine for every meal, and families who relocated to Africa, playing on the beach in between homeschool lessons. It was a completely different life filled with adventure, an escape from the everyday.
But I turned to her and said, “You know what, that looks nice in theory, but I’m just way too traditional to ever choose a life like that.”
And as I admitted it, I even surprised myself. I’m the girl who’s allergic to the suburbs and is comforted by the soft glow of city streetlights pouring through the bedroom window. I’m the girl who dreamed of buying and renovating a brownstone in Troy and raising city kids. I’m the girl who posts #MondayMotivation quotes on Instagram and is laser-focused on her next career move.
But lately, something in me has shifted.
I’ve spent the last 10 years embracing the word “hustle.” In undergrad I strived for a 4.0 every semester, I immediately started a one-year intensive grad school program upon college graduation where I secured a coveted research assistantship position and walked away with my master’s degree two semesters later, and after grad school graduation I was persistent in landing a job at an advertising agency while perfecting my thesis. And you’d think it would have stopped there, but I was only 23.
I consistently worked harder to land promotions and secure raises, and then I started the job search to move to a bigger, better agency with more opportunities, in the midst of planning my wedding to MPR. Soon after the wedding, we Marie Kondo’d our possessions, packed up our cars, and moved down to Charlotte, NC, where I spent the first year at my new job proving myself to new bosses, account managers, and clients, while raising a 9-week-old puppy.
And now I’m 28, and to be honest, I’m ready to step off the hamster wheel.
I’m not sure whether this mindset shift came organically or consciously, slowly or all at once, but I’ve made a change. I’ve cut ties between my job and my identity. I’m favoring my personal relationships over compulsively checking work emails. I fell in love with a house nestled under tall, lush trees with white siding, glossy black shutters and a big front door (that I mentally planned to paint candy apple red), and brick front steps with a black iron railing where I would string wreaths and twinkle lights come the holiday season.
I suddenly felt like Lauren from Younger when she turns to Maggie and gasps, “Oh my God, am I basic?”
Who is this suburb-yearning, pumpkin spice candle-lighting, legging and bean boot-wearing girl? I’m not even mad – I’m wondering why she didn’t come out sooner.
I remember when I was 18 and entering the “real world,” I had three big goals:
- Work in an advertising/PR agency in a writing position ✔️
- Live in a cool city ✔️
- Marry a fellow semi-hipster, pop-punk loving man as driven as I was ✔️
So perhaps, for the first time, I feel like I can rest. Like I can embrace and enjoy the present instead of always looking ahead to what’s next. I don’t know what this season is in my life, but I’m not going to fight it. I’m going to lean into it. And if that makes me basic, then I will happily own it.