Yesterday marked six weeks since I came to Portland.
This is the place I’ve wanted to be for nearly a decade, even though I hadn’t even been here until 2012. But, as I’d suspected, when I did visit, it felt instantly like my home in a way that no place ever has. I was called to this city.
I built it into my own personal utopia. Everything would be good when I moved to Portland. My people were there. And all the green, and the quirky shops, and the endless opportunity for adventure in the city and beyond. I would someday move to Portland and my life would be perfect. I told everyone. (“I will eventually end up in Portland, Oregon” was even in my bio on my ‘about’ page years ago.)
So, in February, I finally did it. I moved to Portland. By myself.
Initially, it was supposed to be temporary. I was just supposed to politely excuse myself from winter in New Hampshire, and then slide quietly back in to my regular life there when the snow melted. But as soon as I left, I knew I would not be going back to stay. And I really wanted to make that make sense. (You’ve likely seen my gushy updates on Facebook the last couple of months.)
The truth is, it hasn’t been blissful or easy everything it was cracked up to be, and I’ve really struggled with that.
Yesterday, Mara said, “I feel like you think you only deserve to have this experience if it’s really good.” I felt a rush of grief. That’s my truth.
I’ve felt like I have to prove that living here is, indeed, my dream life.
It had to be pretty amazing for me to be willing to leave behind my husband, my best friend & all the people that I love, my favorite babies (who are all turning two in the coming months — my favorite age), the place that has been my home for the better part of a decade.
And it has been amazing. But it hasn’t been easy. Moving to a new city by myself has been really, really hard. Often, I feel truly, desperately exhausted.
I’ve asked myself many times if it’s worth it. If I really want to be here if it’s such a struggle – if it’s just real life and not pure bliss.
I do. Of course I do.
It’s easier to sell the story of I found my dream life here and it’s happily ever after, but the real story is a little less fit-for-Instagram.
I am restless in all areas of my life. I am a person who likes to be challenged. I like to stretch. I like to look back and not recognize the person I was a year ago. Every so often, that requires completely removing myself from my comfort zone and tearing down all of my walls to see what’s left.
Being here in the midst of all this change is hard, but staying and stagnating in a life I’d outgrown felt impossible. In some ways, I find it easier to do the hard things.
There are so many people and things that I miss, and some days I miss them more than I love living in Portland.
But overall, I’m growing into a new version of myself here in this wacky city.
So, maybe the true story of this grand experiment isn’t as butterflies-and-roses as I’d like to report, but it’s what I chose and what I continue to choose. I’m starting to find comfort in that — in letting it feel difficult, and trusting that the people around me will understand that something can be both really hard and totally perfect for me right now.
It doesn’t have to be easy to be worth it. When we’re growing into ourselves, in our relationships, or (maybe especially) in our businesses, it can be tough to avoid getting caught up in our visions of what things should look like. Let’s give ourselves permission to embrace the journey for what it is. Sometimes we’ll doubt our decisions. Often, we’ll feel we’ve gained some momentum just to stall out again. The path to our best possible lives is winding. But we have nothing to prove to anyone but ourselves. (Let’s prove it to ourselves.)