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Happy Anniversary, Chicago.

One year ago today, I packed up everything I could fit in my car, took my last final at USF, and hit the highway to Orlando. I spent the night at my parents house and hit the road first thing in the morning for my new life in Chicago. Okay so technically my anniversary with Chicago is on the 19th, but I officially checked out of my life in Florida on the 17th. So today, I celebrate.

It’s been one hell of a ride, I tell you.

I took my last final on June 17, arrived in Chicago on the 19th and started my internship at Weber on the 22nd. Time flies when you’re having fun. And working your face off. And networking like a machine.

I have been blessed with incredible opportunities, both personally and professionally, in my first year here in the Windy City. I’ve traveled to ten different cities, visited home six times, had one super-awesome-thought-it-would-only-happen-in-my-dreams speaking opportunity, several opportunities to teach colleagues about social media, been to what seems like a cajillion networking events, driven thousands of miles, made snow angels for the first time in ages, and eaten in some of Chicago’s most spectacular restaurants.

I’ve also had some moments where I questioned the entire move. Moments where I was pretty sure that moving to Chicago was not a good choice. I’ve freaked out, calmed down and freaked out again. I had moments sitting in my studio where I was pretty sure that my student loans would swallow me whole. I had moments at work where I felt like I was just one step behind where I needed to be, where I questioned why I spent tens of thousands of dollars on a college education because they sure as shit don’t teach corporate in college.

I have been blessed with mentors and mentees around the country. I write about that a lot because I have a sick love affair with all things mentoring. It’s single-handedly the most important part of my career as I continue to navigate and understand just what exactly I want that path to look like. I’d have to say that this has been my favorite part of living here, being in the real world, and being thousands of miles away from home. The people who have taken me under their wing have provided an incredible amount of support and guidance and to be honest, that’s what keeps me sane.

I’ve never had so many sub-groups of friends in my life. I have work friends, social media friends, friends of my roommates and now my skydiving friends. It is a totally different experience. In Florida, I had work friends. In Kansas, I had school friends. I don’t know if this comes with living in a big city or just being outside of college, but I like it. A lot.

Chicago, you’ve done me proud so far. You better keep it up.

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