After living in Chicago for four years, I moved to DC on May 31, 2017. Since moving, many people have asked what brought me here.
The common answers to this question people traditionally give are: moved for a job, grad school, to be closer to family, or for a partner. My answer was none of those.
I decided it was time for a change and wanted to fulfill my five-year dream of living in DC. I get two responses to this: people tell me I am brave and they could never do this, or people share that they are thinking of moving, but are afraid of uprooting their current life. Their life is good enough, so why move just because?
I understand that people don’t want to rock the boat. The saying that the known is better than the unknown exists for a reason. Why leave a life where you have a good job, great community, and a city you consider “home?” Why relocate for no reason besides you want to? Shouldn’t there be a good reason to make such a big change?
Yet, I did just that. For the past four years, I considered Chicago my home. I had a great apartment in the heart of Lakeview. I knew the best place to get deep dish pizza (Lou Malnati’s, trust me). I was working at an organization that not only cared about my professional development, but also my personal life. Lastly, I had made some amazing friends that had helped me navigate my post-grad years. I had built a great life for myself.
Let me just say for the record that I am not brave. I moved out of necessity. While from the outside (and social media) my life seemed great, I felt like I was living in Chicago with a permanent grey cloud hovering above me at all times.
Millennials are so concerned about how our lives are seen by our peers. I would look at people’s Facebook and Instagram profiles thinking how happy they looked and wondering how I could become that happy.
I am in my twenties, the decade society says is the most fun. Why was I not enjoying my life? Why was I not going out enough, or involved in enough activities? I tried everything to get rid of my grey cloud. I switched jobs, got involved with different Jewish organizations, and made new friends. I did not want to leave Chicago because I assumed that was giving up and people would think I failed.
I spent years bringing up the idea of moving to DC with my friends and family, going back and forth in my head about whether I should stay or move, and agonizing over what people I barely knew would think. Finally, the moment came where I knew it was time to give up trying to make Chicago happen, and just start over somewhere new. I started picturing my life six months or one year out, and knew I would be disappointed if I was still in Chicago. While I could not guarantee that DC would work out, it was better to try than not move at all.
The ten months after making the decision to move were the hardest. I spent months applying to jobs, pricing out moving companies, and only making plans two months out so – that when I finally landed a job – I could pack up and go. But, I actually ended up giving notice to my last position before having an apartment or job lined up.
Making this big of a life change was not easy. For me, this decision was years in the making. To this day, I miss my Chicago friends and all the things we used to do together.
Life is not perfect, but I needed to be happy.
When I landed in DC, the grey cloud instantly disappeared. I knew it would be challenging to transition to a new home with little to fall back on. I knew it would take time to find new friends and create a new Jewish community. But in that moment I knew, regardless of what lay ahead, I had absolutely made the right choice.
I am now six months into my new life in DC. I frequently am asked if I have any regrets, and my answer is always no. I still regularly check in with my friends and family. I am still building my new Jewish community and making new friends. But I knew myself enough to know that I needed to shake up my life.
And if I can’t shake things up when I am in my twenties, then when can I? This was the perfect time.
About the Author: Marisa Briefman is a part of our “Gather the Bloggers” cohort of talented writers who share their thoughts and insights about DC Jewish life with you. She is a recent DC transplant who was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida – likely where your grandparents live. Her love of all things Jewish began at overnight camp and continues to thrive in her role at JSSA. She is coffee addict, lover of Mexican food, and on a permanent mission pet all the adorable dogs in DC (if someone is in need of a dog-sitter, email me).