Last week, I quit my job.
Yes, I quit my salaried, insurance-giving, 401-k matching job I have been in for the last two years in Arkansas. The job that gave me a reason to stay in Arkansas, has now given me all that it can. Beyond a lot of trial-by-fire learning, big responsibility and fun-filled opportunities, this job gave me everything I needed for me to no longer say, "I live in Arkansas for my job." I now live in Arkansas because it's where my life is. It's where my family is. My friends. My community. It's my home.
A year ago, I would have never said that. I was still scheming every way possible to move to Chicago with my friends from where I grew up. But three years ago, I would have never fathomed moving to Arkansas. It's funny how life happens. As a girl who often struggles with the existence of "fate" and "everything happens for a reason," the universe is certainly trying hard to get me to believe in it.
A little over two years ago, I was broke and in a bad relationship. Too weak to fix the bad relationship part, I opted to fix the other. I had been waiting tables at Applebee's (Yes, this was my first job after earning my uber expensive college degree) and barely getting by. Fort Smith had just earned itself a fancy new shopping center with Target, Old Navy and a book store that was hiring. I got the job, but I only worked it for one day.
On that first day, I took a walk around the store, trying to familiarize myself with where things were. A magazine lover, I hit those stands first. A larger-sized regional publication caught my eye. I flipped to the staff page and found it was in Rogers, Arkansas. Not knowing where that was, I instantly mapped it out on my iPhone. I'll never forget the excitement that filled my heart when I discovered it was just an hour away. I emailed the editor-in-chief the moment I got home. I got an interview and a job.
The job where I met who I believe to be one of my soul mates, Danielle. Having previously gone through an awful relationship just a short time earlier, she walked me through getting out of my bad relationship every step of the way. She listened to the same stories over and over. She wasn't judgmental when I would go back to him even when I knew better. She just listened. And shared her story. Always serving as a testament to the fact that I too, could move on and be happy. During our new friendship, she got married and had a baby, my little niece Dilynn, who is most certainly one of the lights of my life.
It is the job where I met Annye. In dire need of help at the magazine, her resume is the one that ended up on my desk amongst a slew of other applicants. Her perfect hair and rock-solid confidence have left me constantly in awe over the last year. She's someone I admire and respect in every way possible. She is a friend I know I will have for life with a friendship that I have no doubt will lead to big things, even if its simply traversing our twenties together.
It is the job that led me to a man who makes me weak in the knees. The cute guy who worked across the hall has become the person I call when I have a good day or a bad one. Someone who I always look forward to spending time with. Someone I smile stupidly when I think about (Yes, I have a silly smile on my face right now.) A funny, kind, caring man who I feel honored to have in my life. It's a relationship that, no matter what comes of it, has given me a wonderful gift. It has reminded me what a relationship is supposed to be like. It has reminded me of what I deserve.
And finally, it is the job that not only has led me to my new beginning, but gave me the courage to do so.
Annye and I sat across from a woman not long ago, interviewing her for a story about adoption. She had worked in DHS for a substantial number of years, and, during her career, given 450 children permanent homes. She spoke of her work with pride and passion.
This stranger, this woman--she was my turning point. She lit the fire in me. She reminded me that you can find your passion and you can do it every single day. It's attainable. It's not just a dream or a maybe. It's real and it's tangible. I want to look back at my life when I am her age and smile, just as she did, knowing that I did something of great consequence.
So as I map out my new beginning, with less pay in my pocket and assurance in my mind, I feel calmness in my heart. Because this new journey will lead me to amazing things, just as the job I am leaving did.