When I first moved back to my hometown, I had a lot of convincing to do. I knew it was where I could create a life with Farmer Johnson, my family and friends, yet despite my love for these people, I also felt very much like I was settling in being here.
I spent most days convincing myself the move was the right decision. I longed for the city, and rather than just admitting I never had the courage to go, I let my fear brew for years into some serious resentment.
I did want to stand beside the Farmer fulfilling his dreams - I do love him more than words - I just couldn't see then how I was supposed to live mine at the same time. I selfishly felt as though I had given up all I ever wanted - writing, travel, adventure - for love. While some might see that as romantic, it felt more like an incredible compromise, and the struggle was real. I judged this place for its closed-mindedness, but as it turned out my mind was the one closed.
I was so focused on what I thought I couldn't do here, it never occurred to me to explore what I could do from here. I hadn't yet realized that the uncharted journey I aspired to create was right here waiting for me, because I was too busy pouting about the beaten path at my feet.
And then, seemingly out of nowhere, I decided to register for grad school. In San Francisco. For fashion journalism. While working at a small town local bank. It felt like a last-ditch effort to save "my" life, and was one of the first times I truly believed that there are signs intended for us along this crazy path. It was also one of the few times - at that point - that I invested in myself and an idea simply on faith. After all, what would a girl in small-town Illinois do with a fashion journalism degree? It turns out, enjoy the journey.
As life would have it, that single choice took me to New York City on multiple occasions, introduced me to some of my favorite people and mentors, showed me new perspectives, encouraged me to live outside the box and helped me embrace the polar opposites of my own desires. I learned the power in taking risks and believing in dreams - both near and far.
To this day, I have no idea what I'll end up doing with that fantastic and trying "degree," but I know that simply choosing changed my path by reminding me the decision was mine. And while grad school may have put additional stress on my relationship in time and money, it also saved my marriage in that I finally recognized there is no "stuck." Ever.
I can be who I choose to be, when and where I choose to be. I choose to travel when I get antsy and call a Friday night audible with the girls at the townie bar when I need grounding. I feed my love of fashion and writing amid ag vendor meetings and while CJ makes a whirlwind disaster of John Deere farm toys across my living room. I put extra effort into seeking out city-like hideaways that fuel my spirit to balance the wide open spaces my heart desires.
Despite appearances, it's not easy, but wasn't it easy that I was running from in the first place? Wasn't it the road less traveled that I perceived to be missing on my map of Bureau County?
When we find ourselves wanting something more, it often initially feels like that "more" and "current" go into furious battles within our hearts. We expect one to come out the victor, cheering on either side depending on the moment, but what I can tell you from experience is that the victory comes in calling a truce. Victory is pulling both options together and saying, "look - let's get creative here and come up with a plan."
That plan likely doesn't look like any other. In drawing it up, you may question if it will work, how to make it happen or who may judge you along the way. There will be moments you think you're crazy, others think you're crazy and everything feels like a pipe dream, followed quickly by failure.
Push through. Get resourceful. Find your inner scrappy and fight for the life you believe in, because sometimes simply enjoying the journey is reason enough to head for the exact place you never imagined you might want to go.