“But you can travel on 10,000 miles, and still be where you are.”
I borrowed my husband’s iPod this weekend, and went for a long run with his eclectic mix in the background. I’d heard this song before, but never really listened intently. In Harry Chapin’s W.O.L.D., a middle-aged DJ dreams of quitting his job and starting a record store (yes, it’s an old song), or just driving across the country.
As he figured out, running away isn’t the answer. (Though just running, I’ve found, can be quite cathartic.) After college, I moved to a new city, where I knew no one and had no job prospects. I figured I’d just wait tables if things got bad; I landed a great starter job within three weeks.
Looking back, I was very lucky. It was a different time, yes, but I was also young, eager and had almost no regard for salary.
I always told myself I moved south because I hate the cold, but really, I think I was trying to make a new start, where no one knew anything about me. I’d stand on my own, or I’d fail, but it would be mine–not my family, my college, my friends–mine.
I went expecting a destination, but found a journey … and it’s still in progress. A few things I’ve learned so far:
Wherever you go, there you are. You can go halfway around the world and you’ll still be yourself. Best tackle those problems, since they’ll follow you. Get to know yourself, and be OK with who you are. Introverts take note: you can succeed in PR.
Things really do happen for a reason. You may not figure out the reason for years, if ever. And often these “things” are painful. Learn what you can from them. Let them make you a better person, and remember, they weren’t the destination, just part of the journey.
Be an optimist. Believe in your dreams–even if everyone else thinks you’re crazy–and take steps to make them happen. Being a dreamer is fun, but it’s not enough. Success takes planning, and lots of hard work. Make a career plan, and lay out how you’ll get from A to B.
Embrace the cold. It’s really not so bad, winter. When else is it acceptable to spend an entire Sunday in fuzzy slippers on the couch with a good book? Hibernate a little (and, if you’re moving north from Florida, buy some warm clothes). I even like running in the cold now; it wakes my body and mind in a way those steamy summer miles can’t touch.
Ask for help. No matter how alone you may feel at times, you’re not alone. People are rooting for you (yes, even if they do think you’re crazy), and they’ll lend an ear, a shoulder. Find them, and cherish them, and never, ever take love and friendship for granted.
These may sound familiar. I think that’s because everyone who learns these lessons has to learn them the hard way. If you were looking for strictly business tips: Don’t trust everyone at work. Take credit for your accomplishments. Document everything. But those are for another day. Today, I’m dreaming in the clouds, and planning how I’ll fly.
p.s. Sorry it’s been a while since I posted. Thanks for sticking around. If you have questions about communications or being a one-person shop I’ll try to answer them in future posts… just let me know in the comments.