Over a year ago when I got engaged, my fiancé and I were fostering a 5,500 mile long distance relationship. He was enjoying the #HiLife and I was living back at home in Pennsylvania. We saw each other about 2-3 times per year and really tried to make every minute count.
Once Dane and I got engaged, I knew it was time to fish or cut bait -- this distance just wasn't going to work for us in the long run and I knew that it was I who had a decision to make, because the Army wasn't going to move him back to the East Coast anytime soon.
I had a successful job, a steady affiliation with local groups and clubs and was surrounded by all my friends and family -- but I didn't feel whole being so far from Dane. So I did what any rational, normal person would do -- I quit my job and moved to Hawaii.
People thought I was crazy, rash and ruining my life; I think on the plane ride there I shared some of these thoughts. As I approach the one-year anniversary of my move, I can say, whole-heartedly, that this decision was the best one of my life.
Physically, mentally and emotionally, I am a better person than I was a year ago. It's easy to say, "Oh, well of course she's happy now -- she lives with her fiancé in paradise!"
Except it's not that straightforward. Moving so far and making such a big life decision has brought it's own set of trials and tribulations.
First and foremost, it pushed me outside my comfort zone. It was easy to live at home and work in the surroundings I had grown up around and was familiar with. I now found myself in an unfamiliar area with no friends, except my fiancé.
Alongside this realization, I was now relying on freelance work instead of a steady paycheck to pay my bills. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have quite a few "WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING?!" moments.
Growing and changing are two of the constants in life. Admittedly, I've never been good with the change part, but I think that as we develop and mature, sometimes what some may view as "bad change", can truly be some of the best experiences of our lives. Had I listened to what others were saying to me and not taken a chance on Hawaii, who knows where I would be now.
I've found that the best part of change is the growth that it brings. Living in a new place, while sometimes aggravating, forced me to learn to pay attention to road signs (I was so used to knowing exactly where to go!), branch out and meet new people at community events and learn to love and appreciate my surroundings. My freelance work led me to some of the best people I've ever met -- both on the island and the mainland -- and allowed me to grow professionally in ways I never imagined possible. Namely, believing in myself and the work that I am capable of producing.
I think the most important personal growth is the one I've gained mentally.
When I was a senior in college, I don't think the life I lead now would have been in my five-year plan. Truth be told, it probably wouldn't have even been in my ten-year plan either. If nothing else, I've learned that the best plan is none at all and I am finally at a point where that is okay.
I took a chance on Hawaii and I'd do it all over again in a minute.