Here is my Blogger Idol essay from this past week!
I am an impulsive person.
Well, most people call it “impulsive;” I like to call it “going with my gut.” I’ve always thought that more regrets come from saying no than from saying yes. As a result, my life has been filled with a lot of unfortunate yeses, and very few regrettable nos.
During my twenties, I said yes to nearly every opportunity that came my way: I went to the schools that accepted me, I took the jobs that were offered to me, and I dated the guys who asked me out. Only once was I presented with a major opportunity to which I said, “no.” That “no” turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.
I was living in Kansas and doing my best to destroy myself – too much sex, too much alcohol, and not enough self-esteem. Then I met a boy. A really nice boy. A boy who stayed in at night and rented movies, who had the same haircut since high school, a boy who loved his parents and thought I was the best thing he’d ever seen. I fell for the nicest-boy-in-the-world, and soon, I moved into his apartment.
Me and the nicest-boy-in-the-world. Head removed for privacy.
Unfortunately for my boyfriend, the unhappiness that led me to self-destruct didn’t go away when I fell in love with him. The binge drinking and one night stands stopped, but my dissatisfaction with where I was in my life professionally grew. After less than a year, I finally felt clear-headed enough to take my next step. I decided to get a master’s degree in social work.
I was accepted to a few schools, one of which was Washington University in St. Louis; one of the best social work programs in the country and (more importantly to my boyfriend) only a four hour drive from Kansas City. Not long after receiving my acceptance letter, I got a call from one of their admissions officers, offering me a $20,000 scholarship to attend their school. Leaping on this incredible offer, I said yes right away and began making plans to visit the school.
My boyfriend and I drove down to St. Louis a few weeks later. The moment we arrived on campus, I felt uncomfortable. There was that gut feeling of mine, saying that something about this place wasn’t right for me. I couldn’t see myself taking classes there. I couldn’t imagine that city as my home. But who turns down $20,000 and a great school because of a case of the nerves? I told my boyfriend I loved it and put down a deposit on an apartment.
A month or so after my road trip to St. Louis, I decided to visit a college friend of mine who was living in Seattle. We hadn’t seen each other for years, and it would be my last opportunity to visit him before starting graduate school. The University of Washington in Seattle had also accepted me to their master’s program, but everything was already set for me to move to St. Louis in the fall. I assured my boyfriend that I was just going to visit an old pal and see a new city, and I flew out to Seattle in April.
Unfortunately for my plans, I fell in love with the city. I loved everything about it – the people, the city, the mountains, the school…everything. There was that gut feeling again, the one I was ignoring in order to make the smart decision and go to St. Louis, telling me in no uncertain terms that I had to change my mind. I wish I could say that there was more to it than that, but there wasn’t. Driving into downtown Seattle for the first time, I had that feeling of relief you get when you come home at the end of a long day and close the door behind you. I knew with every inch of me that this was home.
I wasn’t scared to say yes to an unknown Seattle, but I was terrified to say no to a safe and smart St. Louis. I have never been afraid to leave when something doesn’t make me happy, whether it be quitting a job, ending a friendship, or breaking up with someone. Running away has always been the easy part for me: I’d rather choose the devil I don’t know than the devil I know. But I had never walked away from something that seemed to be everything I had ever wanted.
I worried that this change of heart was me being self-destructive again. I had everything waiting for me in St. Louis: the school, the money, the apartment, and the boy. All I had waiting for me in Seattle was a gut feeling. But somehow, I knew what my life was going to be if I moved to St. Louis: I would get a great education, a good job, marry the-nicest-boy-in-the-world, have kids, spend the rest of my life in the Midwest…and I would die inside. I would have made all the right decisions, but at the expense of my heart.
So, much to the confusion of my family and friends, and the heartache of the nicest-boy-in-the-world, I gave up my chance at being smart and secure. I turned down the scholarship. I called the apartment complex and broke my lease. My boyfriend kicked me out of our apartment with two months left before my move. I scrambled over the next month to get an apartment in Seattle, and arranged for movers to take my things across the country. In July, I moved to Seattle.
And it was the best bad decision I ever made.
Me and the best-guy-in-the-world
Seattle is my home, and the city where I will spend the rest of my life. I met my husband out here, and he is everything I ever wanted and never thought I’d find. I got a great education at the University of Washington. I have amazing friends. I have delicious children. And I have a life that I love. No one would have faulted me for making the choice that my head knew was the smart one. But by saying yes to St. Louis, I would have said no to my heart. That is a no I would have regretted for a long time.