Moving has become a familiar change for me. For many people, moving evokes a lot of fear out of them; fear for the unknown, fear for what’s to come, fear that maybe they are making the wrong decision. But for me, my most recent move hasn’t necessarily evoked fear, instead it’s felt familiar and freeing.
That’s not to say that my time in Oshkosh wasn’t a beautiful opportunity for growth and new friendships, but I often felt chained by the constant thought that I wasn’t necessarily in the city I wanted to live in.
I felt the love that Oshkosh had to offer me while I lived there. It had a unique charm and with a campus nearby, boasted a buzzing community of young people. It is definitely up-and-coming. It is a great place to start a business. You could make Oshkosh as big or small as you wanted to make it. You could enjoy the night-life of the city, go sit by the river, visit the farmer’s market, or attend a comedy show at the Backlot. Though I felt the love it had to offer me, I knew I was ready to say goodbye.
This has not been my first goodbye to a city, I’ve made many exits. But it feels like the most important goodbye thus far. I made the decision to say goodbye with more clarity than I’ve ever made in any decision. I wasn’t confused. I wasn’t saying “what if”. I didn’t need perspectives from other people to know that my decision was right for me. I was so excited about the next chapter of my life. Just the thought of moving back to the Twin Cities, an area I always knew I wanted to return to, was so freeing. I think looking forward is what helped me have so much peace and clarity about the choice.
It’s important to me to have graceful exits throughout my life. Graceful exits are the ones that allow you to end a chapter positively. Graceful exits involve being grateful for your experience, growing from it, and closing it carefully.
A graceful exit from a relationship means being able to move forward knowing you touched each other’s lives. It means knowing that even if the relationship didn’t end the way you wanted it to, you were still able to learn something from it. Or maybe it just means adjusting to the distance that may come between you and the other person in the next chapter.
A graceful exit from a job means taking all that you learned and applying it to the next role. It means saying goodbye to work relationships and keeping in touch in the years to come. Exits from jobs are bittersweet. Leaving an agency is especially tough, because with multiple ongoing projects, it feels like you are leaving multiple jobs all at once, and sometimes it can feel like you are letting your coworkers down. When your life is centered around work, leaving it feels both painful and relieving.
A graceful exit from a place means reflecting on your favorite spots and favorite things to do. It means visiting those spots and doing those things one more time. It means packing up your things and saying goodbye to the apartment you once called home. It means watching the city through your rearview mirror as you drive away.
This move has taught me many lessons. It taught me that if you have toxic relationships in your life, you must rid yourself of them. It taught me that sometimes it is okay to put one dream on hold to go after another. Mostly, it reaffirmed something I’ve always believed to be true: if you’re waking up every day in a situation that is not ideal, either work to accept it or make a change.
For awhile, my brain tricked me into believing that I didn’t have a choice. I believed that I needed to keep waking up in a city I no longer wanted to be in. I thought I needed to just “get through” the days. I was definitely working for the weekends and going through the motions during the week. I didn’t feel full of life and I used the phrase “this is only temporary” as an excuse to continue living how I was living. Ironically, telling myself things were only temporary was only a temporary fix for my lurking unhappiness. For me accepting my reality was no longer making me happy, and I finally knew that I had the choice to make a change.
I am thankful for the time I spent in Oshkosh. I am thankful for all the people who touched my life, the wonderful opportunities that I had at my job and the ability to feed my sense of curiosity. Most importantly, I am thankful for one of the clearest lessons that I was able to take with me:
Acceptance is not always the only choice.
Goodbye to Bar 430. My favorite place to grab a beer and/or brunch. The perfect atmosphere right in the middle of downtown Oshkosh. A bar that has my whole heart.
Goodbye to New Moon. Thank you for keeping me caffeinated.
Goodbye to the Sundial in the square. Thank you for the countless Saturdays at the Farmer’s Market, live music and chili cook-offs.
Goodbye to the bridges over the river. For some reason I found that part of Oshkosh to be one of the most unique and charming parts. I wish I would have walked to the river from there more.
Goodbye to a beautiful apartment. The place I called home. A sanctuary.
Goodbye to my job. The sole thing that kept me in Oshkosh. I believed and still believe in that little agency. I have put the dream of working at an agency temporarily on hold so that I can grow in new ways, in a new role, in a new city.
Goodbye to all my coworkers. People that helped me through hardships. People that helped push me to be a better employee. People that taught me about agency life and cheered for me while I grew. People that believed in me. Some of the most hilarious, intelligent, creative people I’ve ever met. You will never be replaced, and you will all always have a special place in my heart. Thank you for being the people you are, and thank you for letting me show up to work everyday exactly as I was.
Goodbye to the friends, new and old who lived close by. You were my rocks, my sanity. You know who you are, please come visit me in Minneapolis soon.
Goodbye Oshkosh, perhaps I’ll return one day to check up on you.