Even my extremely anxious brain didn't predict everything that went awry when my boyfriend and I drove from Los Angeles to Park City, Utah. The lease on my apartment had just ended, and I agreed to take our dog and go spend a few weeks with his family to see if Utah would be a place I'd consider moving. We had so many issues renting a car, then we got caught in a lightning storm, then we were stuck on the freeway during a flash flood while I had to pee worse than I ever have in my entire life.
As a "glass half empty" person who is also deeply into astrology, I took all of these challenges as the universe telling me this was a bad idea. But it turns out the rental car debacle/lightning storm/almost peeing in a water bottle in the car in front of my boyfriend were all part of the adventure, not a horror story.
Our stay in Utah was supposed to be brief—two months, max—then back to LA. We talked about moving to Salt Lake City, but I didn't really think it would happen. I didn't want it to happen. I was worried that I would be settling, and that I would become boring. In LA there's always something to do, and on the outside my life was pretty envious. I lived in a cute duplex in Venice, with the beach a 60 second walk from my doorstep. My job as a lifestyle journalist gave me the opportunity to go to tons of amazing parties and events. I always had a dating story to tell. So what would I do in Salt Lake City, Utah? Everything closes early. The liquor laws are weird as f*ck. It gets cold. Oh, and the prevailing politics and religion do not match mine.
While I still love LA, and miss my close friends, I'm beginning to realize just how much my financial situation was contributing to my anxiety.
At first, I hated it here. I missed my friends, and I don't do well with change. Despite that, I went apartment hunting with my boyfriend and agreed to move to Utah for a year. TBH, I mostly agreed because the cost of living is so much less expensive here, and we could rent a two bedroom duplex with a garage, backyard, and in-unit (!) washer/dryer for significantly less than the one bedroom I had been renting in LA. I decided to treat my time here as sort of a sabbatical. Just a little break away from the city to save up some money, and have more flexibility to figure out what I really want my life to look like.
However, Utah has begun to show me that it is different than I expected. For starters, fun is allowed and it's actually not the town from Footloose. There are a shit ton of dinosaur fossils here, which is deeply fascinating to a former aspiring-paleontologist (I gave up when I realized I didn't have the patience or the left-brain skills). Salt Lake City, where I now live, is more liberal than I expected. Our rescue dog, a bull terrier named Stitch, has a backyard to play in, and when we walk him we don't have to be on high alert for human feces or other dangerous things he might try to eat. The longer I'm here, the more I like it and the easier it is to leave the LA FOMO behind.
While I still love LA, and miss my close friends, I'm beginning to realize just how much my financial situation was contributing to my anxiety. I wasn't mindful, I was impulsive—with both my money and my life in general. I was constantly reacting, instead of taking action. I have been less stressed since we moved, and this has freed up energy to deal with financial problems and other problems I had been avoiding. (Huge shout out to Her First 100k, which has truly transformed how I think about money.)
Sometimes an adventure starts with being brave enough to admit you aren't happy, and then setting out to find a life that will.
It's not like my life is wonderful and perfect all of a sudden. I still have generalized anxiety disorder, and I still stress about money, but the difference is that now there's an underlying current of not-misery underneath it all—a baseline that one might call happiness. Apparently you can live an interesting life without being miserable and exhausted and anxious all the time. Who knew?! Adventures don't always look like attending parties and dating emotionally unavailable international DJs. (Though I will say, these can make for some good stories.) Sometimes an adventure starts with being brave enough to admit you aren't happy, and then setting out to find a life that will.