Give Me the Green Light

If it wasn't obvious in my last post, I have been considering the possibility of moving back to Charlotte, North Carolina. Considering the possibility. Ok, that and indulging in fantasies about what it would be like to be able to afford a real grown-up apartment on my own.

In thinking about a potential move, the only real hang-up I could foresee was my job. Other than travel stories, I haven't shared much about my work on the blog (hello, relative anonymity). I'm a contractor for a non-profit. I telecommute (i.e. work from home) about 95% of the time and essentially I can do my job anywhere there's Internet and a good airport. But, since I do advocacy work, it is helpful for me to be in DC--to go to meetings, briefings, and the occasional visit with a member of Congress. So, while not essential and not part of my contract, being in DC, at least some of the time, is a good thing for me professionally, both for right now and for future work opportunities. (Although I'm really wondering if I want to stay in this rat race for the long-run anyway.)

You can imagine my relief, then, when I brought this up with my supervisor and she said, "As a contractor, I can't tell you where you can do your work. It's illegal! That and the most important part of your job is not the work you do on the Hill but the grassroots work you're doing in the field." Shew, ok! Not a barrier.Plus DC is just an hour's flight from Charlotte. Then she said, "Forgive me, I'm taking off my professional hat now and putting on the friend hat, but I do worry that you may be trying to run away from problems that are rooted in the internal, not the external."

Let me say that my supervisor/boss is like another mother to me. She's someone I've known for years, and I feel incredibly thankful to work with her now. She's wise, grounded, and an incredible listener. She knows all about my life, SCL, and my general feelings of unhappiness. And if there's anyone in DC whose perspective I would want, it's hers.

"I agree with you," I admitted. I know that I have a shit-ton of work to do on myself. Happiness and satisfaction come from within, and if I want to experience them, I will have to do that hard work no matter where I end up living. But my feeling is that changing some of the external things and improving my quality of life that way may actually facilitate doing that internal work. Right now I feel like my attempts to do the internal work are actually being hindered by the external things in my life here.

If you'll indulge me, here are a few of the external things Charlotte would offer.
  • Lower cost of living
  • Slower pace of life
  • Better weather (NC springs are the best) 
  • Within driving distance of my entire immediate family
  • Within driving distance of my best friend
  • Hub for other alums from my college 
  • Familiarity 
  • Distance from SCL (I mean, c'mon. It's tough living 3 blocks away from each other sometimes.) 
  • Good friends and mentors in the area

What I truly want in this situation is to feel like I have a choice in the matter.If I decide to stay in DC, it will be because I chose to. And if I decide to move, it will be a decision I am making for myself. Knowing I have a choice is incredibly liberating. Now I've got a lot of discerning, thinking, and journaling to do. But I believe in time I'll have my answer.


  1. I think there's definitely something to be said for moving "back home."

    My husband and I lived in NC for three years while he was in graduate school. Unfortunately, we did not feel at home there. I never got comfortable. So when he graduated, we packed up and moved back to the Midwest.

    A lot of people thought we were crazy. When we made the decision, we didn't have jobs lined up. I was leaving a very good job that had nearly doubled my salary in three years. Our decision to move derailed a very lucrative career path for me. But I wasn't happy in the job, and I really wasn't happy with where we lived.

    It was a rough summer while my husband job hunted and I worked to get a freelance career going, but I don't regret it for a second. We are SO much happier here where it's easy to visit family, cost of living is lower, and we'll actually get to see SNOW this winter. Plus I'm not getting up and going into an office to do a job that I hate, even if it did provide me with health insurance and a decent salary. Life is much better now without it.

    Good luck in making your decision, though! I'm sure you'll figure out what's right for you.

  2. I moved back to California for a lot of the same reasons. You wouldn't think cheaper, but compared to much so!

    I always say trust your gut. Maybe this trip was the best thing to happen to you!

  3. I've been "thinking" of moving to Chicago for like 6 months and really plan on doing it, but I definitely don't want to run away. If there's things I need to do here, then I won't run away just yet.

    I think you're totally going to be fine with whatever you choose. It seems like you have flexibility and support really wherever you will go, even if you don't see it like you did when you were in your relationship.

    Well, that's my two cents. Hang in there! Whatever you choose will be right.

  4. If you move to NC I am totally moving in with you, lol. Hubby and I have discussed moving there!

    I would say if your gut is telling you to do the move then do the move. Maybe you need a change of scenery. Sometimes that's what it takes.

    Either way, good luck with the decision. I'm always here to talk if you need me!

  5. it sounds like there are a lot of really important things in your life in nc. put your health (mental, emotional) and family first, and career second. things fall into place better that way. prioritize, and make your decision based on that. :] you won't lie on your death bed wishing you'd spent more time closer to your job.

    on another note, it's so great that you have a boss you can trust. it can ruin your life all to hell if your boss sucks (you probably knew that).

    good luck! what a big decision. do what YOU WANT. :]


  6. I recently made a move (and a fairly drastic change in job) myself. It was a very stressful decision. I knew I was over my job and where I lived. I no longer felt connected to my community but I had a relatively stable job (although very stressful) and a cheap apartment (for the area I lived). Ultimately, I realized I had to choose between staying in a job that was sucking the life out of me and living in an area that no longer excited me or taking a risk to try something new that might make me happier. It was basically deciding between something that I knew made me unhappy or taking a risk to see if something new would be better. I took the risk and a pay cut but it's the best thing I ever did. However, what is right for me might not be right for you. You are smart to weigh your options and it sounds like you have wonderful people to consult.
    Keep in mind... one advantage of being single is that you don't have to consider a significant other in a drastic move like this. You have options and freedom. While moving does suck, you always have the option to move back to DC if NC doesn't work out with your job.




  8. P.S. I'm kind of a fan of the fact that I write comments on your blog like an illiterate asshole

  9. Tough decision... I think you should also make a list of the things that you will miss about living in DC. That being said, I just moved back to Boston after 9 years abroad... it was a hard decision to move back. But I think it was the right one. Good luck!

  10. Hmmmmm. I am going to take the other approach. It's ALWAYS easy to go home. It really is - it's comfortable, familiar, and SAFE. You are going through a tough time right now, and of course being so close to the ex is not helpful.

    Switching your location will not change your situation. When my now husband and I broke up briefly a few years ago - I freaked out and all I wanted to do was pack up and leave the city we were living in - I wanted that escape.

    I had idealized the place I wanted to move - I already knew people, it was a great big city with lots of opportunity, I would be closer to my family, a built in network - all these GREAT things. Then I realized I was rationalizing because I was in pain. I didn't want to be around all the constant reminders of my relationship - the memories were EVERYWHERE.

    But running away would not have solved my problems, it just would have put some temporary distance between me and them before they caught up with me.

    DC is hard - I have lived here for many many years. I have also lived overseas and coming back to DC was one of the hardest things I ever did. The definition of "Home" will likely change for you over the next several years. You are still young and figuring out what is right for you. Give yourself time to heal a bit before making any more big changes.

    Good luck!

  11. Not going to lie, but I think that was totally inappropriate for your boss to say! (Even if she is a friend as well as a supervisor....)

    Yes, your problems may be within you, but if you are in an environment that is uncomfortable and you cannot begin your healing process, then you need to change the external too! That's like telling an alcoholic that they need to work on their addictions while sitting in a bar.

    Healing yourself in an environment where you have a support system IS confronting the internal. Boo to your boss.

  12. If you want my true feelings, I think a move back to NC is something you need to do. Maybe it won't fit as cleanly as you like, but I think you should try it out. It seems as if you really feel a tugging in your soul to go there.

    I know you're obviously not going to move there next week, but maybe give it time. Let the idea float around in your head for a few months to make sure it's something you absolutely want to do.

    I do think a change of scenery would be good for you, though, and a fresh start that you seem to be searching for.

  13. I may be wrong, but didn't you move there primarily because of your ex and his schooling? If that's true, then let's face didn't choose DC...HE chose DC. You went along because you thought you were going to be getting married. Now that you're not with him anymore, I see no reason to stay. It would be different if you had been living there yourself, had this career going, broke up and wanted to escape. But you weren't. You came there with your boyfriend. Therefore, I wouldn't say the problems are ALL within yourself. Frankly, DC sounds like a shallow, soul-eroding cesspool of narcissists running around, all trying to get ahead and be hipsters. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's the picture I'm getting from reading all these DC blogs. I say go where you feel comfortable and happy. Ain't nothing wrong with that! Like you said, you can always shoot up to DC for work if you have to. If it were me, I'd have my bags packed already. Go for it.

    Hey...Obama moved there, too, but you can bet your ass he'll be hightailing it out of there when his job is up, just like all the others do.

  14. There are a lot of great bloggers in Charlotte =)