How My Life Changed When I quit my job and Moved Across the Country without a Plan or a purpose
“Must be nice to be able to quit your job and go hiking all the time”,
“you’re so lucky”,
“I couldn’t do what you did, I don’t have the money”.
These are things people have said to me in the last year, multiple times and I decided I needed to clear the air.
Growing up my mother always told me “there is no such thing as luck, God gives us blessings and gifts but it is not luck. Everyone experiences good things and bad things but that is life, not luck”. So if you believe in luck then yes, I am lucky, but we are all lucky or if we’re channeling our inner mama bear we are all blessed. We all get to choose what we do with our lives, we all get to experience things, see things, witness things, live and breathe things each to our own. I am blessed. I always have been.
When I chose to move across the Country leaving my family and friends behind, when I chose to leave my career and chose to make changes in every single area of my life, It was a 2 day decision. I had an opportunity and had 2 sleeps to think about it and then I had to decide. If I had more time I may not have jumped. I think the pressure of the decision helped push me to make it. I am beyond grateful that I took it, took the chance at a different life with no plan, no guarantees, and no expectations. Its been just over a year and things are starting to feel comfortable and fall into place. Again, I am extremely blessed, but I don’t want to sugarcoat things. I chose to make 2018 a year of vulnerability. I want to tell you about the struggles that accompany big change.
I totalled my car a month before moving. Blessing in disguise. I received some money from insurance as a result of this which allowed me to extend my “I don’t need a job for awhile, I”ll just live off my savings” plan by 2 months. During my “time off” I was able to explore a new city, experience new venues, nature, and neighborhoods. This was both exciting and unexpectedly so challenging. I don’t think I ever allowed myself to fully think through every challenge I might face, which in hindsight I am grateful for but the smallest changes made the biggest impact.
If you’ve ever driven in my car you know I have a Mary Poppins trunk. I have rollerblades, hockey equipment, fishing poles, board games, blankets, a tent, pillows, a kettlebell, you name it and it was in my trunk. I was always prepared for living a spontaneous life! I also wore my favorite shoes and outfits everywhere and never had to think practically about the height of my heels because I never had to walk further than the parking lot and my destination. When you lose your car, you lose your identity. This sounds dramatic but I literally had to change my style and my preparedness had to improve ten fold! I had to change my wardrobe to 24/7 gym wear. My trunk became a backpack on my back that could only house 2% of what my trunk was able to hold. When I left the house for the day I had to pack a bag with food, water, an outfit change for wherever I was heading, this included a change of shoes as well, plus anything else I needed for the day (ex. Towel, sporting equipment, books, etc). No more cute shoes or cute outfits, no more dresses (I tried biking in a dress once and it will never happen again!) My backpack usually weighed a ton and made me sweat through outfit #1 of the day within the first 5 minutes of biking. In the grand scheme of things this is pathetic that I’d even consider complaining about this but it was a big change for me and still continues to affect my life. It just takes a lot of extra planning and I’m no longer the fun person with so many activities in her trunk! However, I had no idea how much money I would save by not having a car. I now use a bike and my two legs to get everywhere and it’s been the only way I can afford my life. Public transit is an option in a state of desperation or pouring rain but I would rather walk an hour than pay $2.25 for a bus.
My next change was finding a way to afford a healthy-ish food plan. After taking 2 months off of not working I accepted a job making minimum wage ($10.85 – 35% of what I was used to making). This was both humbling and challenging. I was finally searching for jobs but in different lines of work than what I was used to which proved to be quite a challenge. I counted out 22 interviews in one month, all of which led to “we’ve decided to go with other applicants”. To say this was disheartening would be an understatement. Not only did nobody want to hire me but I had to find a way to live off peanuts. There were weeks I was living off of rice cakes and apples. I was fortunate enough to have this last long enough to gain perspective on somethings and to be grateful but I was able to get some more work in a few more weeks time. Money always comes and goes. I remember I used to always say I never made enough money or I was always so broke. This embarrasses me now. Broke is partly a mindset.
My next challenge and possibly the hardest for me was finding my purpose and my people. Working as a nurse for the past 10 years, even if I didn’t love my job all the time and didn’t always feel like it, I had a purpose. I was always helping people even when it wasn’t appreciated. Yes it was my job, yes I was paid to do so but it still served such a great purpose. I found it so difficult to go from helping people every day to being “funemployed” and seeking out purpose in every day and feeling an inadequacy to the world by living in it and not doing anything to help. What went along with this was finding my people. People who supported my lifestyle, who encouraged and inspired me and who would want to do the same things. People are always talking about how hard it is to find friends in Vancouver. I don’t think the city is to blame and its more a circumstantial 2018 problem but regardless it was a challenge. Not that I minded very much but I found myself doing so many things alone. Partly cause I had so much time on my hands and everyone else was working but also because for the first time in my life, I had trouble making friends. I joined apps, online groups, facebook groups, met people for coffee, went on random hikes with strangers, put my feelers out all over, and I’ve met a lot of people but found it hard to find a regular crew.
I ended up finding a few little crews, most of which were made up of people I met through the jobs that I eventually took on. I decided I would work whatever jobs brought me joy or perks. Nursing wasn’t a job with perks so I wanted perks! Jobs with perks included retail, tour guiding, dog walking, a gym, and a whole bunch of side gig/contract type jobs. Within each job brought me people who could relate on a work level and who each shared similar struggles, living in a big city and not making millions (or even thousands at this point).
So at 33 years old when I thought my struggles would be mortgage payments and finding diapers on sale, these were my struggles instead. I’m not writing this for sympathy or empathy or for anything else other than a glimpse into some things that surprised me when I said yes to a life change. They are things that I’m sure will amuse me some day, and they are things I want to remember because like everything in life, it is temporary and a phase.