I’ve been asked a few times about my experience about moving across the country, how i’ve thrived and survived adapting to a new place, far from home, away from my family. Why did I do it? How did I do it?
I first wanted to say — I’ve been planning on moving to Colorado my entire life. Since I came here as a baby, skiing here as a child. Barely able to even stand and balance, my parents put me on skis. Growing up, my family would come out west - Utah, Colorado, Tahoe, etc. I fell in love with Colorado. I just remember being so little and sitting in the back of my parent’s suburban, driving down Vail Pass and looking up at the mountains surrounding us, towering above us. I remember the heart-ache when I saw those same mountains as we were driving back home. I knew in my gut, even from a young age, that I wanted to be in Colorado. I wanted to call this beautiful place home. Skiing made me feel alive, and the mountains just felt so welcoming.
High school came, and I studied my ass off. I was still skiing, now racing, and still going out west. My parents took me to the University of Colorado — Boulder when I was a Junior in college. I fell in love there, too. I knew that I wanted to set my academic goals to attend UC. My parents sat me down one day and told me that they couldn’t afford to send me out to Colorado. I would have to go somewhere in state if I wanted any assistance with college.
Sorrowfully and regretfully I attended an in-state school in Michigan (which I HATED for two years, but then fell in love with). I strayed from the idea of moving to Colorado, feeling discouraged. I studied anthropology for two years. Then, I went out to Vail for vacation one winter. We stayed in the Marriott Mountain Lodge. Absolutely breath-taking hotel. The customer service was excellent. I started to think about hospitality, at that point. How awesome would it be to talk to cool, interesting people all day while also sharing your passion for the place you loved? At the time my sister worked in hotels so I talked to her about it and I decided that I wanted to pursue a degree in hospitality.
Once I switched over, I gained confidence in moving to Colorado again. I knew my degree would be something I would enjoy, also something that could take me out to Colorado. I worked at a beautiful hotel in Grand Rapids, learned the ins-and-outs of hotels, and was molded into a customer service expert.
As graduation approached, I realized I had no money to move. I resigned my lease in Grand Rapids, and planned to stay there for a year. I also realized that I didn’t want to be far from all of my new friends and all of my family. Then, I realized my job at that time could not offer me a raise, nor could they offer me full time. I had to find something. But the lodging market wasn’t so impressive in the area.
I decided to apply online to some ski resorts. Without fail, I received a phone call the following day. That started my interviewing process. Within two and a half weeks, I was hired into the company and ready to go. I had to pack up my things and leave in 2.5 weeks.
I started packing my things and was becoming more excited and even more nervous as time got closer. Saying goodbye to my dad, sister, dog and closest friends felt like my heart was being ripped to shreds — i wanted to take everyone with me out here, but it was time for me to move. This would be the first time I lived more than 2 hours from my parents. I got a wrench in my gut — what if something happened to one of them while I was so far? What if something happened to me? I knew that these thoughts were nothing but holding me back. I pushed them aside. I had to do this for me. I had to discover who I was. I had to pursue my dreams. I had to be in the mountains. I couldn’t disappoint myself, and sit back and watch my dream from afar.
Off I went. My mom and I drove across the country with my entire life in the back of my jeep liberty. She helped me settle in for a few days, and she left before my first day at work. When i dropped her off at the airport, she told me how proud she was of me. And then I saw her cry for the first time, ever. We sobbed and held each other in tears. She knew what this meant to me and supported me the entire way. I couldn’t be here without my mom.
So…here I am now. The hardest, boldest decision that this shy introvert could make. And I couldn’t be happier for the decision I made. For any of you wondering “should I move far from everything I know” —- YES. Do it. It will shape you into the person you want to be. You will find so much about yourself that you never thought you would. You will meet awesome people. Do awesome things. Worst comes to worst? You move home. But you tried. and you pursued something you’ve wanted. And honestly, that’s important. I’m living my dreams, and I think you should too.