I moved to Atlanta a year ago this week.
On my birthday.
That’s a day you tend to remember; I’m starting to wonder if I’ll ever forget it.
When you approach a day like that, (as if it weren’t enough that it’s also my birthday), you tend to get retrospective. And, though it’s cliché, I have to admit: it’s been quite the year.
I moved to a new city. Where I didn’t know the streets. Where I’m still learning the names of all the neighborhoods, where the “good” Chick-fil-a’s are, and all those everyday things that you know about a place without realizing it, until you move to a different place.
I met new people. Some I knew. Some I had met in real life. Some I only knew from a handle and a profile picture. Some I had never met before. Some I still haven’t.
I tried new things. Let’s be honest, a lot of it was food, and, Atlanta, you have not failed to impress. But, oh, so much more.
And that’s what Atlanta has grown to mean, among many other things: new. This might seem obvious, but the more I think back on this year, the more I realize how far down that idea goes, into the littlest things. It’s not all been from a spirit of adventure, either. A lot, a whole-heckuva-lot, has been situations I’ve found myself in without my wish and oftentimes despite my very best efforts.
I’m learning to embrace the new and all the things that come with it. Like risk and insecurity and unpredictability. There’s not a way to get one without the others. Trust me, I’ve tried. But to try the new you have to embrace not knowing. If you knew, it wouldn’t be new.
But that’s how growth happens. That’s really, I’m learning, the only way real growth can occur. Growth is inherently new. Things change into a shape and size we are not familiar with, and our brains aren’t sure if that’s good or bad. Anxiety, naturally, has already made up its mind. That’s why you can’t listen to it.
You don’t know. I thought I had a good grasp on this lesson before I even left Austin, but, as I’ve learned so many times over the past year, I haven’t even begun to learn it. This isn’t the shape I wanted things to take. The plan was to move here, get a boring day job, and go from there. Nope. I tried to be responsible, and I landed here anyway.
But, in all that, in all that I’m still in, in this tumultuous, unexpected, at times aggravating to the body, mind, and spirit, year, it’s been good. I made a website. I started blogging, consistently. I’m building a freelance business and a personal brand. I joined #CreateLounge. I celebrated the launch of the new SWL HQ. I recorded not one but two podcasts. I met Kayla Hollatz, and we started a book club. I helped one… no, two… No, 5! 5 authors nail their books.
And I wrote a book of my own.
And you want to talk about timing. All the delays, all the seeming setbacks, and I submit that for publishing the week before this big anniversary. The book I never thought I’d write, and, yet, gloriously, the book that sums up this last year in a way I could never have guessed.
I’m always looking for the lesson, I’ve realized, and there’s an intelligence to that. If you know how to look in the right places. So, what’s the lesson?
Timing really is everything, but it’s not so much up to you.
Learn to embrace the new. Because there is freedom. A lot of stuff comes with it that you have to make your peace with, but the freedom is worth it.
And, above all, you don’t know, but that’s how the best stories always are.
It’s been a year. A long, hard, beautiful year. And it’s good to look back and see how far I’ve come.
And then look forward and wonder where I’m going to be.