Moving Across the Country, Why I Did It
I’m a firm believer that in order to change or improve with anything in life you need to be a bit uncomfortable. I can probably trace that sentiment back to skating somehow, but in some twisted way it has found its way into my everyday life. In order to get a new jump, I would have to fall a million times. If I wanted to get in shape for a program, I'd have to push myself to a point where I was physically uncomfortable, but eventually it all paid off. Challenging myself, and expecting improvement is all I really know. It’s how I solve all of my problems, and after seven years, I found myself with a huge problem. I was unhappy, and had no way to fix it anymore. California wasn’t giving me much in life, and I decided it was time for a change. I picked a place on the map, packed up my life and headed back east to Boston. It is a change that not a lot of people understand, and I’m constantly being asked to justify why I moved. The answer is simple though, I needed to make myself happy again, and I needed to do it just because I could.
I had one of the most stressful years of my life in 2017. My house had been broken into three times in two months, and my space had felt violated ever since then. I could no longer sleep because I was so afraid of my intruder coming back. Every time I came home, I was scared I would find someone inside. I faced a very stressful Olympic season injured. I was being pulled in a million different directions with sponsor obligations and media requests. I was burnt out in life. After my Olympic season came to an end, I went back to California to start the next chapter. I found myself trying to build a new life within the bones of my old one. I would go into the rink and coach on the sessions that I used to train on, and I would watch all of my old training mates continue on with their careers while I sat there well aware that mine had come to an end. I was supremely unhappy, I was miserable if I’m being honest. Nothing felt like it was in my control. I felt stuck, like I wasn’t moving forward and like I was stuck in my past. I needed a change badly, I just couldn’t feel the way I was feeling anymore, and that is when I started looking for a new home.
I never felt like I belonged in California. I wasn’t ever driven to go out and explore the life that California had to offer. The people weren’t like me, I felt like I didn’t have anything in common with anyone. I was extremely lonely, and felt homesick for a place that I wasn’t sure really existed. Most importantly, California never felt like home. I was always uncomfortable, which is why it was perfect for my skating career. I didn’t connect with the people (no offense to any Californian’s reading this I’m sure you all are great) but not having those people outside of skating was really limiting, and it kept my life so incredibly tied to the sport. Lastly, I was depressed, I was in a deep dark place and I associated that so strongly with my location that I knew I just needed a reset.
I picked a place on the map. Simple as that. I knew I was leaving and I started looking at my options. I knew I wanted a city, but I had ruled out New York because I felt like I was going to get eaten alive there. I thought about Seattle, Chicago, Nashville, even San Francisco, but one day I considered Boston and my whole entire body just relaxed. I had a gut feeling that Boston was my new home, it made sense for some reason. Boston is where I won my world silver medal, it is where I became a member of the Olympic team, two happy memories. The city has always been good to me and I figured it was time I tried it out. I called up a girlfriend who lives close to the city and we started planning right away.
Moving to Boston taught me so much about myself. I learned that I am extremely capable as a woman to pack up my life and move away. I organized this entire move and it was so empowering. I moved not for work, not for a relationship, I moved just because I could and that made me feel so free, and like I was actually living life. I acknowledged that I needed change and I made it happen, and I got to experience the positive change that I started myself. Sometimes I feel like we get caught up in thinking about how difficult things can be, and yes, this move was ridiculously hard and stressful. It challenged me, but I learned that I can make things happen on my own, I don’t need anyone else to fix my problems. I don’t need to be rescued, I can save myself.
I was terrified of leaving California. As much as I hated living there, I still had created some semblance of a life and moving into a city that I knew no one in. I learned to lean into fear, instead of pull back from it. I was scared to go, I was ready to go but I didn’t feel confident that things would just work out for me in Boston. I embraced the fear though and found that if you take something that scares you and work through it, the payoff is huge. I had no idea if I would actually feel happier here, and it is still a work in progress, but my life is so much more full and complete in Boston. If I had let my fears get the best of me, I would still be living the same familiar routine of life in California, but I would still be miserable. Moving taught me that fear can be a friend, and you just sometimes have to push through to feel the rewards.
Lastly, I learned that just because everyone likes a city, doesn’t mean that city is meant for you, and that’s ok. I always had people telling me how much they loved L.A. It made me feel bitter in some way, like it wasn’t fair that they loved it because they had no idea how the city made me feel. I couldn’t see what people liked so much about the endless palm trees and the sunshine. I missed the rain, I missed green trees. Where people saw endless blue sky, I saw brown suffocating smog. I felt obligated to like it because it was L.A. and everyone likes L.A. I’ve come to realize cities are like people, you aren’t going to like everyone and that is okay. Give it an honest try, and if you still don’t like it after a year or two, maybe it's just not the city for you.
I am happier than I’ve ever been. Truly. I still have days where I panic and question what I did, but I am a better person here. I’ve learned to appreciate my time in California now that I have had some distance from my time there, and I can see how it helped me grow up in a lot of ways. I think I saved myself by moving, I gave myself a real life by putting change in motion. I made myself incredibly uncomfortable, and pushed my own boundaries further than I thought I was able to. I feel brave, I feel capable, and most importantly I just feel alive again. For me, moving Boston was a great idea. So, if you need something different, lean into that feeling, it just might change your life