I turned 33 last month. Not a milestone age, but there was something about this birthday that made me think about the past and future. About what I’ve done and where I’m going. Because there’s no escaping it–I’m in my 30s now.

Looking Back at 32

I found myself looking through old blog posts and this one really got to me. Do I wish I had been confident enough to get out of an unhealthy relationship earlier? Yes. That I found my dream job right out of college? No. Not at all. Five years ago, I was living at my mom’s house, in an unhappy (and unhealthy) relationship, and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

The uncertainty got me here. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

What I’ve Learned

Staying with the guy that wasn’t right for me taught me to look for what I do want. Living at my mom’s didn’t make me happy, but I was able to save up enough money to move. I needed to try something new, and for whatever reason, after spending just 2 nights and 3 days in this city, decided that I’d call it home. And no matter where I end up, I will never, ever regret the moving to Chicago.

It’s not easy to see past the struggle when you’re going through it. 

I didn’t know what I wanted, had very little confidence, and felt stuck. If you’re with someone who doesn’t treat you well, walk away. And if you’re unhappy where you are, take even the smallest step toward happiness. It can be signing up for a class, starting a blog, offering to help a friend with a project you might have an interest in, or looking for a new job (maybe in a new city). Or breaking up with someone who just isn’t worth it.

I had this life plan to be married by 28 and a mom by 30.

Clearly not the way things were supposed to work out for me, and I wouldn’t change a thing. If you find yourself wanting those things, don’t give up on those dreams, but consider what you can do now that will make you happy. I’m glad I got to navigate things on my own for as long as I did. I still want to get married but when the time is right. And I’ll probably want kids when I’m with the right person. I think I’m in a better place to make those decisions, because my happiness won’t be defined by them.

I thought a lot about the future, both personally and professionally.

The Everygirl launched almost 4 years ago, which means that this coming February, we’ll go into our f i f t h year. Wasn’t I just a 27-year-old freelance graphic designer who moved from LA to Chicago?It’s hard to remember that just a few years ago I had zero ties to this city. That I barely knew how to get to Trader Joes.  I’ve come a long way from this.

I needed a change

I’m not sure that I was thinking very clearly when I moved to Chicago. I needed a change. To get out on my own. To try something new. The Everygirl was not a part of the plan. I’m not sure how much of a plan there really was, but making that move changed my life, and I’m so glad I did it. I do not have it all figured out now, but I’m in a place where things feel pretty good. I’m excited about the future of our company, am really enjoying the freelance work that I do, and I seriously lucked out with the friends I’ve made.

Had I met someone in LA, I would have missed out on moving to Chicago, making friends I can’t imagine not knowing, and launching The Everygirl. I would have missed out on my current relationship–one that I’m very happy in. And I wouldn’t want to trade these experiences for anything.

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