The first day it “clicked.”

Considering a move? Today we have guest post by Stephanie Florence, 40:20 Vision’s contributing / Millennial editor, sharing how leaving the city she loves was much harder than she expected.


September 14, 2015
The first day it “clicked.” The first time I cried since leaving New York City realizing I no longer live there. I live in Chicago now. And life is different. It’s real different.

When I left New York, it was almost pretend. While I had a one-way ticket in hand, I had already booked my first trip back…and only one month later. I didn’t need to have this big goodbye because I’d be back before I knew it. And I was. And it was perfect. I spent 3 days in New York and every time someone asked me how Chicago was…how it was being back,11947846_10105465911636080_8909433665593882677_o I answered them honestly. Chicago was going well. I do like being so close to my family and it does feel like I never left when it comes to my best friends. But what I didn’t realize is that my true feelings were living dormant just under the surface, beneath the “I can’t believe I’m doing so well” and “When, really, is this move going to set in?” Because even I’ve been impressed by myself in not having those moments of regret in making this transition.

I worked alongside my New York co-workers for one day while there and most people said it felt like I’d never left. (It had only been 4 weeks, a blink, really.) I was touched by how many people took time to check in with me and ask about Chicago or tell me they missed me. It was thinking of these people the following Monday and writing them an email to thank them for doing these things that finally pushed me over the edge in realizing I no longer live in New York. In fact, it’s what sent me scurrying to the ladies’ room at my office to let out my first cry since moving to Chicago.

In New York I thrived off being new. People still joke how I couldn’t shut up on elevators or in hallways in the NY office – always looking for more ways to meet people. But somehow that’s changed. Being new doesn’t have the same appeal. Especially in a place that is so familiar to me – a place where I spent the first 25 years of my life. It’s crazy because I didn’t feel all this when I was in NY during my first return trip. It was honestly like a switch was turned on and I realized, things really are different. And the hardest part of this realization is feeling that I lost part of my identity along the way to finding myself in a new city.

While in New York, I was the one who up and left all she’d ever known to move there. New York was my personal life goal and once I started “making it,” it became my life, period. Sure, we had our difficulties, but the challenges produced a sense of strength I never knew I had. When I made the decision to return to Chicago, I told myself it was a conscious choice to try a city I hadn’t really experienced as an adult. I moved to New York to escape my comfort zone, but I can’t help but feel coming back means nestling myself right back in the comfort zone I fought so hard to break through.

I thought I had it all figured out when it came to leaving a city I loved. What I didn’t recognize was all that I would be leaving behind. It’s those memories, those fears, those challenges that made my experience in New York and made me keep signing up for the chaos.

The more I consider it all, the more I realize it feels like I’m going through a breakup. At the end of a relationship you go through major adjustments. You no longer have that person to call or text at night before you go to sleep. You don’t have guaranteed weekend plans (even if those plans simply include movies on the couch). You don’t have that built-in +1 for the 22 invites being stuffed into your mailbox. You can even feel the missing piece of your heart that this person so naturally filled for you. Who knew a city could so completely turn into the equivalent of a significant other?

I am happy to be in Chicago, but I find that my heart is sometimes still in New York. I know I need to reframe my thinking away from a breakup with New York. It’s simply an amicable split in which I walked away with far more than my partner – both happiness and heartache…and most importantly, a new outlook on life.

Here’s to never really letting go of the places we love and choosing to embrace the new places with everything we’ve got. Who knows how it will work, but I’ve got to let myself try.

Flo 3Stephanie Florence is a 20-something who can talk to a brick wall and dance to a kazoo. She contributes to the 40:20 Vision as the Millennial editor and on every day that ends in “y” you can find Stephanie meeting people, telling exceedingly long stories and taking the approach of a student…always. Find her dancing around Chicago in her personalized Chuck Taylors, complete with her Twitter handle: @StephanieFlo.

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