Finding Your Spark: Finding Where You Belong And Enjoying The Ride

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I decided to start the "Finding Your Spark" series to shine a light on different types of people who are following various paths – their OWN paths, whatever those may be. The whole idea is that there's no single way to live life and a person doesn't have to be "famous" to inspire others. These individuals have found what inspires them, motivates them, makes them happy. And they've run with it. Read all posts in this series here.

I'm very excited to share the latest Finding Your Spark story because it is with my very dear friend whom I love and admire. We also happen to share the same first name.

I met Nicole at work, where we first bonded over the fact that we were both fresh college grads at our first real job. She was (is) dedicated, ambitious, and great at lightening the mood and bringing people together. She is a hard-working ray of sunshine.

Back in February of this year, Nicole found a job in and moved to Colorado. Though she has relatives in the area, she was moved into her own apartment within a month. While I do miss living in the same state as her, I've loved watching her thrive and explore life in her new home. And she's loved it too. I mean, just look at these pictures.

As we come up on the one-year mark of Nicole living a thousand miles from her hometown, we talked about what it felt like for her to move to another state at 23 and the advice she has for others wanting to do the same.

When did you first start thinking about moving out of state? What made you start considering it?

I have wanted to move ever since I was a little kid! Which is kind of weird – but I remember visiting relatives in Florida and always knowing that I wanted to live somewhere with beautiful scenery and lots of outdoor activities. I was thinking about Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, and Colorado, and thankfully ended up in Colorado!

What was your job-hunting and home-hunting process like?

It was pretty awful. I just searched on sites like LinkedIn and Indeed. I had a lot of different interviews, but there are so many factors when companies are hiring, and I was pretty picky. I wanted something in my field, a good salary, reputable company, etc. So I wasn't willing to take just anything. A lot of companies were hesitant to hire someone from out of state too, so that was tricky.

Job hunting took up a lot of time but I was really motivated, so I just kept searching until I finally found the job I have now. I actually saw this job posting on a site called Luke's Circle, which advertises Colorado jobs exclusively. I only heard about it because another Colorado company had turned me down but said to check Luke's Circle for future postings.

How has it been living in Colorado compared to what you expected?

It has been even better than I imagined!! I love being able to hike on the weekends, and the mountain views on the drive to work never get old. I am very, very appreciative to be here and have tried to take advantage of all that this state offers as much as possible.

Living near Boulder and Denver is also great, since there’s always a lot of events/festivals, as well as a really great restaurant/bar scene.

What was your family's reaction to you wanting to move out of state (and eventually doing it)?

I had been talking about doing this FOREVER, so they weren't surprised at all and were very supportive. They helped me move and are happy for me.

What has been the hardest adjustment/most challenging part?

I miss my friends and family so, so much. I have met some really awesome people here but there is nothing like hanging out with the friends who you’ve known for years and JUST GET YOU.

Thankfully my friends and family have been pretty great about visiting somewhat regularly, and I talk to them basically every day, so I still feel connected to home. While I would have loved to move out here with friends/family, I think coming out here on my own has been good because it’s forced me to become more independent and self-reliant. I have become more outgoing and try to keep myself as active and busy as possible, trying new things so that I can meet new people and get to know Colorado a little better.

And what has been the best part?

I love, love, loooooooove being near the mountains!!! Hiking has definitely been my favorite activity, and I try to do it every weekend. It’s been so much fun exploring new trails – I love the combination of being outside and being active. It feels very fulfilling.

And living between Boulder and Denver is great, like I said, because there is always something to do, and they have very young vibes. Most of the people I have met have also moved here from another state, so there are a lot of like-minded people to relate to. 

When you moved, you also started a new job at the same time, which is a big step. How did that go?

It went pretty well, thankfully. My job now is very different from the one I had before, but I was excited because I have always wanted to go into brand management and it's a pretty cool industry. I feel like I'm learning a lot and am thankful because the work is interesting and relevant, so it feels meaningful.

What goals do you have moving forward?

It was my goal for a LONG TIME to move out of state/to Colorado, so right now I’m sort of just enjoying the ride a bit, which feels really nice because when I was still home in Illinois, moving was the only thing I could think about. It is so nice to have checked that off my list. I feel like I am where I belong!

Moving forward I would just like to continue to explore new parts of the state and continue to meet new people! And of course work on persuading my friends/family to move out here with me. 

What advice do you have for someone who wants to make a solo move as well but is nervous about it?

DOOOOOOO IT. If you feel like you would be happy elsewhere then make it happen!

Finding a job was the hardest part for me, because I wanted to have a secure, full-time position before moving across the country, and I didn’t have any connections here to really network with. Maybe it’s easier for other people, but I definitely spent a long time applying and researching different places before making the move. Now that I am here, it all feels worth it and I don’t have any regrets about the process or being here solo.

Then once you’re there, just embrace your new home – explore as much as possible, join different clubs/activities, and FaceTime your friends and family when you need to – they always help any homesickness!

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