January 8, 2016

Finding a Home for My Best Self

Back when I went through my company’s senior associate leadership development program, I was assigned a career coach who worked with me in a group setting and also one-on-one. The coaches were all external (meaning, they didn’t work for my firm), so these weren’t people we’d see in a day-to-day setting. I absolutely loved my coach, Starla, and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. She was more excited than anyone when I was selected to be the orchestrator for the program, and it was wonderful to get to see her in the fall when I was back in California… but it’s a little tough to catch up when we both had a job to do. So, I was thrilled that her work has brought her to Boulder for a few weeks – and we were able to meet up for breakfast this morning before work!

Snooze's pancake of the day: lemon poppyseed. I got a "side" of one pancake with my breakfast sandwich and then proceeded to eat all of the pancake and only half of the sandwich. #WorthIt
Snooze’s pancake of the day: lemon poppyseed. I got a “side” of one pancake with my breakfast sandwich and then proceeded to eat all of the pancake and only half of the sandwich. #WorthIt

Since it had been a while since we’d seen each other, we talked about a lot of stuff. But the one topic we kept coming back to was Boulder. Part of why Starla is here is to scope out Boulder as a potential home, and I certainly had lots to tell her about why I love it so much and can’t conceive of ever leaving! I’ll spare you the details of that discussion for now, as I think I’ve written about how much I love Colorado quite a bit 🙂

One thing that Starla said really stuck with me though – she pointed out how the place you live can affect who you are as a person. At first brush, that might sound a little weak. After all, if you’re a strong person, then where you are shouldn’t affect who you are, right? But as we talked through it, I realized she was exactly right – and it made me love Colorado all the more.

I don’t really like the Laura that I am when I’m in New York. Sure, that Laura accomplished a lot of things (50 by 25) and had a lot of fun (so much to do in the city that never sleeps?). But I love the Laura I am today so much more. I tend to be a somewhat judgmental person by nature (frequently more judgmental of myself than anyone else, but I’m still working on it!), and I felt like New York City really brought that out in me. I felt like I had to live up to everyone else’s expectations, and so then I put those expectations on other people and judged them for not living up to them. But in Colorado, I am a much more laidback Laura – I will totally go to the bar in dirty sweaty hiking clothes, and don’t think twice about anyone else doing the same.

Okay, fine, I still wouldn’t go to a bar in this ramshackle outfit in which I ran the Lake Geneva Marathon. Probably. Not unless it were really cold. (Blake is going to kill me.)

All that isn’t to say that Colorado is better than New York. (I mean, it is, but that’s not my point.) It’s that Colorado is the place that brings out my best self – and I’m so glad that I discovered a place that unlocked that version of me. It’s funny – I have always thought that my perfect soulmate would be the guy who makes me a better person and the best version of myself. I think it’s such a cool concept that a place can bring that out in me as well.

So, how do you find the place where you are your best self? I think it’s just a matter of trial and error – exploring outside your comfort zone and being open to the possibilities. I am so glad that I was lucky enough to go on my 50 by 25 quest, and that I got to see so many different places. Some of the cities, while fun to vacation in, were places that I couldn’t ever see myself living. A lot of places in the midwest, surprisingly, were where I felt most at home.

I remember getting to my hotel late at night for my marathon in Brookings, South Dakota, where friends I was staying with had already picked up my race packet for me. In the packet was a promotional flyer telling runners what a great town Brookings was, and essentially selling it as a destination where everyone should move. I remember cracking up at that – um, no way this New Yorker was moving to South Dakota, of all places! (Stupid, judgmental me.) But the next day, I ran 26.2 miles all around and through Brookings and found that it was a place I could definitely see calling home (well, if it weren’t for the fact that it was a three hour drive to a reasonable-sized airport and I have to fly for work twice a week). Marathoning was what took me to Colorado for the first time, and so I now see my 50by25 journey as being part of what helped me find the wonderful state I call home.

Starla is embarking on a journey around the country to try out life in different cities, one month at a time – from Boulder to New Orleans to San Francisco. My boss was telling me just this week that he had a friend who couldn’t decide what suburb of Chicago to live in. His friend rented a whole house for his family on AirBNB to try out the neighborhood (and the commute) before committing to buy. Brilliant! I love that idea, and would highly recommend it for anyone who’s looking to purchase a home.

How cool is it that in today’s ultra-connected world, Starla can travel the country and try so many different places? How great is it that AirBNB lets us explore what actual day-to-day life is like in a new place, rather than forcing us to stay in sterile hotels where we live as tourists instead of residents? Finding your special place has become so much easier than it used to be – and I’m so grateful for finding mine.


10 thoughts on “Finding a Home for My Best Self”

  1. This is a very interesting post to me. Back in 2013 I moved to Boca Raton, FL thinking that was where I could live. Having visited thousands of time, having family down there I was sure it would be great. What I didn’t realize it was great for vacation. Not for a young person looking to build a career in the nonprofit sector, strengthen friendships/relationships etc…. After reading this I know understand more on the why it wasn’t a great fit.

    Excited to see where she lands up. Also excited to see what’s next for me.

    Happy 2016 Laura!

    1. I’m so glad you liked it, Tracy! There is definitely a big difference between places I like to visit and places where I’d like to live. (And both of those categories are also separate from places I like working four days a week, but wouldn’t want to permanently call home.) Do you think you’ll ever move from New York? Happy 2016!

  2. I don’t know if I can move from New York. I have all these visions on where I want to live, what I want to do accomplish and who I want to be. New York feels like it would eat me whole and spit me out if that makes sense. So as of now the answer is 50/50.

    1. Definitely not a decision you can make easily! It took me about three years between when I decided I wanted to move to Colorado and when I actually moved 🙂

  3. It is really great that you feel comfortable in Colorado! Moving to a new city have definitely changed your life for good! I am also looking for the place where I will feel complete. I currently live in London but it seems that the busy city life brings me depression and headaches. I’m seriously considering moving away to the suburbs with my family. I know that moving with my family is a very important decision. I think that it is a brilliant idea to rent a house in a neighborhood for a month or two, so you can be sure if you will like it there! Thanks for sharing!

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