Blame it on optimism or overconfidence (or both), but I never questioned my decision to pack my bags and pursue my dreams. Looking back, I actually don’t know what I was thinking – because I was too busy feeling. The fear of change. The excitement of taking a chance. The satisfaction of knowing I was doing this for no one but myself.
That’s the beauty of your 20s – being free to chase what you’re looking for and reckless enough to believe you can find it.
As a dreamer, I wanted it all – my spot in a big city surrounded by people who would inspire my writing and a life that would reflect my passion. Naturally, the only thing that scared me more than leaving my hometown was not leaving it at all. So I landed in Chicago with two suitcases, no housing and the relentless idea that life is meant for anything but settling.
While this is probably the part where you assume everything fell into place the second I moved, it’s not. The truth is that relocating is terrible. Pursuing your dreams is hard. Making new friends is tiring. Financially struggling is awful. Missing home is exhausting.
Being sad over the same thing that makes you happy is called passion and that’s what people don’t tell you.
There’s a weird stigma that surrounds the idea of chasing your dreams – people either think you’re dumb for choosing an unstable path or brave because you’re doing it despite the fact. Ironically, I never understood either opinion until I began my life in Chicago. Yet after a few months and a lot of breakdowns later, I finally accepted that the challenges people warned me about were coming in every direction. And for the first time since rediscovering my love for writing, I felt completely lost.
In the midst of my determination to live in my soul city and thrive in the editorial field, I didn’t truly comprehend the difficulty and effort it would take to accomplish this lifestyle. While I realize this might come off as naive, it’s probably a crucial detail for why I full-heartedly committed to such a dream – because my dedication to succeed outweighed my understanding of (literally) anything else.
You either succeed or realize you didn’t want to.
The tough roadblocks weren’t factored into my plan, because I had never experienced any form of them before. So there I was – exactly where I wanted to be and somehow struggling more than I could’ve ever imagined. For months I felt sorry for myself – until I woke up one day and realized I didn’t have any right. How could I complain about a situation that I had chosen to go through? In the end, life epiphanies aren’t meant to be comfortable and neither is personal growth.
Entitlement is the key to disappointment.
Although I originally moved because I thought I had discovered the person I was meant to become, I now realize it’s because I had no clue. While my struggles could’ve discouraged me from continuing my dreams, they did nothing but fuel my reasons for why I deserved to live them.
Sure, my journey in Chicago is still in progress, but the lessons I’ve learned thus far have changed me for a lifetime. Even though my decision to live my truth has led to some of the best and worst moments of my life, I’ve never felt so alive and proud of the version of myself that I’ve created here. She’s a mix of everything – the nostalgia of my childhood, the wild of my dreams, the hunger of my knowledge, the wisdom of my struggles, the strength of my dedication, and the optimism of my future.
In a world telling you why you shouldn’t chase your dreams, there’s a special type of feeling that comes with doing it anyway. This resiliency isn’t learned – it’s felt by those who believe in something larger than themselves. Overall, the greatest power you can have is in protecting what matters to you. So regardless of your current path, take pride in who you are and trust in the theory that you can create a life based off exactly that.