People or Places? How I've Made The Distance Worth It

Time surely does fly -- it feels like just yesterday that I was sitting in my management course during graduate school discussing the job search process with a faculty member. I distinctly remember Dr. Benjamin stating, “You can live anywhere for two years. Prior to this conversation I had a very strong feeling that I would be returning closer to home, that being within a 150 mile radius of the state of Maryland. After hearing Dr. Benjamin state this and thinking back to my graduate school experience of leaving all I’d ever known to a small town outside of Pittsburgh, PA, I started to realize that I too could move somewhere else and be OK.

Now, as I write this I am actually 2,965 miles away from all that I’ve ever known (family, friends, and pets).

Hopefully this post can serve as motivation or a vote of confidence to others who at some point may have reservations, worries, fears, and feel like I did prior to starting my job search.

Interview

Now to throw out my first disclaimer, this transition period is still very real and still very much happening. I do not hold all of the answers and certainly understand that moving and starting a new professional role is going to be different for everyone, so my hope is that you embrace what you’re experiencing as unique. I only hope to provide some of my own tactics, offering recommendations and encouragement.

A wise person once told me as you move through your professional career there may come a time where you will be deciding between people and places.

In all reality, the places you want to inhabit may not be geographically close to your people (loved-ones). As mentioned earlier, I never thought that this would be an issue for me because I was going to live close to family, no matter how long the job search process took. Now that I am literally on the other side of the country, I can say that I couldn’t be any more content with my decision.

The period of time that has spanned between graduation and the big move has been somewhat of a whirlwind. I graduated May 2017 and before you know it I was moving to Oregon. The time in between being hired and making the big move out West was filled with completing final assignments, attending conferences, and of course trying to set up what my new life in Oregon would look like. Though I have only officially been on the west coast for two months now, I’ve already experienced some significant transition hurdles.

The first hurdle: communication and interactions with my family and loved ones. One huge moving transition that I did not take into account before the move was…of course, the time zone change. I know it may seem like a pretty obvious point to think about when moving away, but now that I’m living it, essentially three hours behind most of my friends and family, I really notice the difference and have to think ahead and plan out what before wouldn’t have been an issue (i.e. FaceTiming my mom). Using my calendar and alarm system to hold myself accountable to communicating with others has been a tremendous help. I find myself getting up earlier just to speak to family and friends from home since they are typically on their lunch break!

Skype

A second realization for me was that over time some connections would begin to fizzle out and become less apparent in comparison to when I was in graduate school. This is by no means to say that any of my close relationships or partnerships with colleagues have ended, but I’ve grown to realize that life happens and everyone gets busy. With this being said the old saying, “it gets harder to keep friendships the older you get” is very true. So valuable lesson, it’s great to make connections and build community in your new place, but don’t forget the ones who helped you get to there.

Though there have been a couple bumps in the road (very minor), the experience of starting my first entry-level professional position and moving across the U.S. has been extremely rewarding in a multitude of ways. One of the greatest gains from moving so far from home and out on my own has been the opportunity to really explore who I am. I’ve felt a great sense of independence and though as sad as this may sound, a new appreciation for what it really means to feel truly alone. It is such a scary yet freeing feeling. I’ve been able to take on small and large projects, like changing my first car license plates to summiting South Sister (the 3rd highest peak in Oregon). Just remember, life does take twist and turns and can present some very great opportunities, but when it comes to making a decision to move thousands of miles away from home, the rewards CAN outweigh the tough sacrifices!