As many of you may know, I recently moved to Montana. A small town of just over 4,000 people and a very popular summer vacation spot – this town welcomed a sunflower-lovin’ Kansas girl into it’s very limited housing market back in January. To say that moving here was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done in my 22 years of life would sound dramatic, but it’d be absolutely true.
I just graduated college in May of 2017. Equipped with a brand new Bachelor’s degree and a 4-year-old desire to get out of Missouri, I couldn’t wait to move out west and do amazing things. I had no idea what things, but my house-lion Rori and I were certainly getting out of the Midwest ASAP…
So that summer I spent my time road-tripping with some of my best friends, job searching, working and showing horses with my favorite barn of all time, job searching, making up for lost time with my little sisters, job searching, traveling across the Atlantic, and more job searching. That summer was a blast, but I was still in Kansas and I was still without a job. I had interviewed for some amazing positions and got shut down. I felt totally, completely, and utterly unqualified for everything. It was heartbreaking and incredibly discouraging. I was getting really comfortable with the idea of living in the basement of my parents’ house forever. Until I finally broke through the post-grad brick wall with a 7-week internship that changed me and my outlook on life.
Flash-forward 7 weeks and now I suddenly love birds and have a clear direction I want to go in – along with some real-world experience to back it up. I also “discover” the whole beautiful state of Montana, and an incredible sounding AmeriCorps position that will take me right into the mountains. I’ve never wanted anything more than I want this job. While waiting to hear back from this dream job, I get offered a job working for the barn I’ve been riding with for years, and that is the only thing in the universe that could make me rethink everything in life – and it does. All summer I was struggling to find something or someone that wanted to give me a chance, and nothing. But now, I have two perfect opportunities. What do I do??
Well, I get the Montana job. The barn says I can work there temporarily, until I leave for Montana. So that’s exactly what I do. Flash-forward (again) a couple of months, and it’s so, so hard to leave in January, but I have to try it all – to figure out what I should really be doing. That’s what your 20s are for, right? Leaving your friends and family and horses and everything you know behind, just to go live amongst some big rocks and gigantic bears?
Of course it is. My parents rent a minivan and we take a three-day road trip to move me into my new apartment in my new state. But, leaving my sisters behind was 50 times harder than when I went to college. I just got them back after 4 years, how can I leave them again? And this time I’m so much further than a 2 hour drive away… what am I doing? It’s overwhelming, and for the first few hours of the trip I cry and question every decision I am making. I just want them with me forever. But I have to follow this dream of mine, and I will be with them again soon.
And finally, after three days of driving, mishaps, laughing, and crying, I’ve made it. My little blue apartment stands there, staring at me, under 3 feet of snow. I move all my things inside. Our moving van gets stuck in the snow and my dad kicks it and my mom gets upset and I cry a little bit, but then I’m the one to get it out. I go to the post office to change my address, and the lady behind the counter yells at me and I cry a little bit, but then I leave and figure it out myself. We go to brunch one day and it seems like I will never be able to get wifi in my apartment, and for some reason this triggers a full blown panic attack, but I get through it. And then, after all of this, I have to drive my parents to the airport and watch them leave me. I’m here alone. It’s really happening. This is it.
I simultaneously feel like a pathetic child and a full-blown adult. “Yeah, I may have cried, like, 17 times in the past week, but I just did one of the bravest things a person can do,” I tell myself. I don’t really believe it at first, but as the days go by I start to feel more confident and more proud of what I’ve done. I start my job, I make friends, I take risks, and I learn so many new things.
Not all of the risks I’ve taken have payed off, but I’ve learned so much about my resilience, my passion, my weaknesses, who I am and what I’m capable of. This move to Montana was the scariest thing I’ve ever gone through, but every tear, every doubt, every bad moment was 100% worth it.
The truth is, I’d love to stay here forever, and maybe I will. But if I do move on, maybe somewhere closer to my family, this place will always have a piece of me. This was the first place to show me what I’m really made of, and what tremendously spectacular things can come from having faith in myself and just taking the leap.