Two weeks ago I wrote the following post:
I’ve been crying a lot this week. A talk with my boss opened the floodgates and emotions that I realized I had been keeping pent up for a very long time. I’ve been wanting to move and times when the opportunity seemed so close like college or when I graduated ended with me staying in Colorado. As I’ve expressed frequently on this blog, I have always wanted to move. A place with a bit more diversity, that’s warm and is a bigger city has been my goals.
And it’s finally coming true.
I’m moving to Austin, Texas. Momentarily anyway. I’ve been considering Houston, but Austin is the safer option for me just with me already having visited there and with the liberal reputation that I know won’t be too far from my general crowd.
This whole new leaf didn’t start out with set plan to go to Austin though.
The past couple of weeks have been stressful. I had a job opportunity with a local newspaper in Houston and they were offering essentially the same benefits and pay and my current job. I would have had to leave Colorado in a short few weeks, leave my current job without someone qualified and trained to replace me and move to a city that I still had some reservations about. And I seriously considered taking it because it felt like my only option to get out of this town.
After some of my interviews, I went to my favorite park and just cried. I cried because I was scared of leaving Colorado at the time when I love it best. I love Colorado in the summers and wish it was like this all the time.
I’ve made some good friends here, I’m in a spot downtown that I love. I love walking to the park a couple of blocks away from me and joining the crowds of people who are picnicking, reading, playing volleyball, or just walking their dog. I like being steps away from the Capitol building and being blocks away from the art museum. I like reading my book and watching families tubing by the river at the big REI.
It doesn’t come without its downfalls though. I live in a tiny, outdated, not-up-to-code one bedroom and my roommate lives in the living room where there’s a makeshift wall between the tiny kitchen and her bed. Seriously the kitchen has mini appliances. The apartment is in an old mansion house and clearly used to be a bedroom that has been converted into an apartment with makeshift walls. Essentially only meant to have one inhabitant and definitely not two. The apartment is sloped downward so the fridge leans precariously, the bookshelves tilt instead of standing straight against the wall, and I use a fire escape as the main entrance and exit. But what I have sacrificed for any decent space in a crowded rent-rising Denver, I have gained in location and freedom to be minutes from parks, museums, downtown, grocery stores, and coffee shops. Even with major faults, I like the location of where I live and what I get to do.
I cried at the idea that I’d be able to live in a place and just forget that I have Cold Urticaria. I know it’s not as bad as it was when I was a kid, but I almost always get numb hands when I go outside and just have gotten used to it as a side effect. I went hiking and thought it would be fine, but my hands started to swell, and I couldn’t move them, and I started to get drowsy and practically had to be carried down the mountain because my brain felt like it was going into sleep mode. That’s something that hasn’t happened since I was first diagnosed. I cried because I was frustrated that Cold Urticaria ruined a lot of things for me as a teenager. Horseback riding, snowboarding, any kind of winter sports, going to Winter Park for the middle school graduation. And it’s better now, I don’t worry about anaphylactic shock or anything but when the bomb cyclones hit, I do still have little nerves that crawl up through my fingertips and say, “be cautious today”.
A thought popped into my head saying, “Colorado would be absolutely perfect if I was a straight white male with no serious allergies.” And that’s what everyone tells me anyway. When I brought up possibly moving to people, they always had a reaction of “Why would you ever leave?” Not helpful. Especially when I said I was thinking maybe Houston, Austin, possibly Nashville or maybe Phoenix. Their answers were always “Too hot!” “Dirty!” “Humid!” “Conservative!” “Floods and hurricanes!” “Is just a ‘Wannabe Denver'” And again, not helpful. It’s been a hard decision because there’s a huge part of me that realizes Denver is a good place. It could stand some more people of color and I’d certainly love some better Asian food, but I’m an active sun-loving liberal young outdoorsy person and this is a dream place for that.
The places where I’ve felt most at peace is when I’m hiking in the mountains by myself and not many regions that I’m considering really have the equivalent to the Rocky Mountains. That is something I may undeniably miss.
I also cried (and I’m still emotional) at the thought of leaving Ahnyisae, my mentee. She told me her biggest fear was the people in her life that meant the most to her leaving her. That was her mom, her sister, and… me. And I was emotional at the thought that I would knowingly be doing the thing she was most scared of and I wouldn’t have the chance of being able to see her in person and say goodbye. The moving window with this job was just too short and our schedules in June would be too busy.
And so, if you aren’t one of the few filled in with the latest news, you’re maybe wondering what happened with the newspaper job in Houston and why am I going to Austin.
I didn’t take the newspaper job in Houston.
I know it’s in a realm that I’m interested in, which is more informational/educational based design. But I had so many hesitations with Houston and even when I was 90% decided on accepting the offer, my gut felt like it was in knots. What if I hate the city? The office is in a wealthy suburb that I wouldn’t be able to afford to live in, so I’d have to commute in the infamous bad traffic. It’d be hurricane and flood season when I moved and I’m unfamiliar with the area, what if disaster struck and all my possessions were gone? I’d have to find an apartment and sign to one without even seeing the said apartment and apparently, it’s common to have roach infestations in bad apartments. The office was founded on Christian principles and Houston, while more progressive, is also still conservative Texas. Houston’s known for not being walkable and many neighborhoods not even having sidewalks and my favorite thing to do is just walk around my neighborhood, downtown, and to different parks.
I had to weigh whether or not this was enough of a professional “step up” to compensate for maybe lifestyle decreases. And that’s hard. I have professional goals and living in my nearly unlivable apartment means I always feel the pressure of trying to achieve a better standard of living.
But then my current employer offered an option that eased the tensions I had. My boss offered to let me work remotely with them, move whenever I felt ready to leave to wherever I wanted to go, and increase the pay and offer to help the transition. And that’s really what I wanted someone to present to me.
Because if I wanted to go all in for the professional goals, I’d be looking at NYC, DC, or LA, where the design jobs are the top tier and I’d be sacrificing comfort, money, and location for job goals. But that’s not at all what I’m doing. People say to go outside your comfort zone if you want to achieve big goals and I understand what they are saying, and I think that was my mentality when I was first leaving college. But now I think my values have shifted and I’m not as terribly concerned with finding career success but finding personal life happiness. I’m still growing and figuring out which things I truly value in life. I value volunteer work, my active outdoorsy activities, culture, personal freedom, friend circles, and independence. I can find those things really anywhere, but some values show themselves less frequently than others.
I’m okay with passing on an opportunity this time around that maybe would have been a half step in the professional direction I want to take for the slower, more comfortable route. I’ll get to pick where I go, take my time, have a job I’m familiar with and am needed in, and find a place I will connect with. Maybe it will be Houston! But I felt nervous making a commitment to Houston if it ended up not being where I wanted to be. And I had to reassure myself that this was not the only informational media graphic design job offer I’ll ever get. There are great Texas universities I could work for, newspapers, non-profits, and opportunities I don’t even know out there and I don’t have to choose right this second. It was not an end-all-be-all. Also, I’m still 23! I have a lot of time ahead of me for career advancement, so I had to assure myself that it’s okay for this step to be a personal advancement.
To some, it may seem ridiculous to weigh location so much. There are negatives in every place (although again, if I was an affluent straight white male without Cold Urticaria, it would be hard to find negatives about Denver). But because some of my activities like running, hiking, and walking are outdoor activities that give me more mental clarity and peace, I felt it was something that I should try to value in my decisions.
I’ve been rambling and I don’t know if I even laid out my thoughts coherently but in short, I’m moving to Austin beginning of August and will be working remotely for my current company who want me on the team and want to make it work for me.
I will be moving!!
From there, we’ll see. The end deal is that I get a few more weeks in Denver when I love it most and I get to decide where I move to and get to be more selective about which job, I choose next and make sure it has it all.