As much as I try to forget my time in the corporate world of downtown Chicago, there is one thing that it did teach me - how to rock a business casual look while also still being as lazy as possible because that commute is rough! It's amazing how much your personal style is influenced by your workplace and the city in which you live. Since I couldn’t really function in heels, I lived in flats all through my time in Chicago. Now that I’m back in laid-back Madison, I live in boat shoes and flip flops!
When I started working in downtown Chicago, I was a little intimidated by the thought of having to dress up more for work. I’ve been lucky enough to work for a lot of very chill startups with zero dress code so I didn’t have much experience with “business casual” attire! What I love about style is that it can change with you as your experiences shape the way you grow and the person you become. My time in a corporate big city world infused a little bit of business casual into my personal style but it definitely errs on the side of casual since it’s no longer a requirement!
How has your personal style changed over time? How has it been influenced by your experiences and the places you’ve lived or visited? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
About a month ago, I made the decision to move from Chicago back to my hometown in Wisconsin. When people have asked me why I decided to move back, the short, conversational answer is "Oh, city life wasn't for me" or "Oh, corporate life wasn't for me". In truth, this decision was much more complicated and multi-faceted than a brief conversation can even begin to cover. While I briefly touched on some of the things that contributed to my decision in my Crossroads post, I wanted to expand on each aspect that contributed to this decision more in depth.
I was born and raised in a small city in Wisconsin. It's big enough to have everything you could possibly need, but small enough that rush hour only adds about 10 minutes to your commute (something I did not appreciate until I faced Chicago traffic….eek!). Growing up, I always thought that I must be more of a "city girl" since I couldn't imagine living in the country and being so far away from places like hospitals, schools, and restaurants. After the reality of living in Chicago, however, it didn't seem like I was a city girl at all. The constant noise, hustle and bustle of crowds, and the intense pressure to be somewhere and do something at all times made me much more anxious than I'd ever been before. Our apartment in Chicago never quite felt like home to me because I always felt a little too high strung to truly relax. It was like I was perpetually in some kind of accelerated kids summer camp - always running around and just popping by my bed to sleep before waking up and running off to more daytime activities.
We always refer to people as "city slickers" or "country bumpkins" but what about all of the people in between? If neither the country nor the city is for me, then what does that make me? A suburb girl? I love the convenience that living near a city brings (hello, Uber anyone?), but have no desire to be surrounded by traffic noises and crowded subways. I love the calm of being in the country, but would miss the convenience and excitement of nearby places and events. At first, I felt incredibly lost and frustrated because it didn't seem like I was truly happy anywhere - but being caught between these two extremes started to make me think about what I truly wanted out of the place I called home. Why was I trying to put myself into these two categories and letting them define me? I'm still in the process of figuring out what works best for me - but what I did figure out is that for now, what I need, is a little bit of both. Since my hometown was always the perfect mix, I decided to make the move back.
Maybe this move is permanent, maybe it's not - but I know it's been the right move - for now. There might be people who think I'm crazy for moving away from such an exciting, beautiful city - but I think what you have to realize in a situation like this is to disregard all of the voices inside your head that are coming from other people and to dig down to figure out what you want. Part of what made me frustrated with myself was that I thought that I should like being in a big city. I had been raised to think that a big city meant more opportunities, more people, more money and therefore, more happiness - yet, I wasn't feeling the happiness I thought I should feel. The best lesson I learned is that just because it's something that one person, a hundred people, or a million people have told you will make you happy, doesn't mean it will make you happy. You know yourself best and when it comes to your life, no one else can define your happiness for you!
Even though Chicago wasn't the best fit for me as a home, it is still such a beautiful, exciting city that I absolutely cannot wait to visit again. Next time, however, instead of grumbling home as a resident, I'll be happily visiting as a tourist :)
Are there any suburb girls out there like me? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Over the past month, I’ve been absent from blogging because I’ve been at a bit of a crossroads in life. When I first graduated college, I was lucky enough to land one of the best jobs I think I’ll ever have! As with most things, though, I didn't realize how perfect it was until my time in that job ended.
In my next couple of jobs, I struggled intensely with corporate environments and feelings of being stuck in an office from 8 to 5. While I was in some amazing, incredibly positive work environments, when I really looked inside myself, I knew that there was something off. Despite working with happy, friendly people, despite being given an incredible level of independence, and despite enjoying my job well enough, I knew that I wasn’t content with the idea of working in a company setting or climbing the corporate ladder for the rest of my working life.
The stress of this dissatisfaction weighed heavily in my heart. While I knew it was a great path for some, I couldn’t quite pinpoint why it didn’t feel like the right path for me. After some thought, I’ve come to the realization that I prefer to work independently. While I don’t think I have the guts it takes to be an entrepreneur, I crave the autonomy that entrepreneurs have.
On a personal level, both my boyfriend and I are also experiencing first hand the reality of aging grandparents. While it’s been difficult, for both ourselves and our families, I’m grateful that these moments have given us some clarity. Life is short, and when you really boil it down, our relationships with other people are all that we truly have (or need) in life.
The puzzle pieces are finally falling into place for us and we will be moving back to our home state of Wisconsin in a couple of weeks. In a strange way, it’ll be a new start, in a familiar place. I’ll be starting a new job and moving into a new apartment, but I’ll be surrounded by the little coffee shops, parks, and streets that I’ve known for as long as I can remember.
I’m also looking forward to the ability to take a step back and consider what a career truly means to me. At heart, I’m an idealist. I firmly believe that there is a career or an environment out there for me - and I’m relieved to be able to consider my next move in a familiar place.
I’ll leave it at that for now, but I hope to share more posts about the decisions I’ve made in the upcoming months. This entire summer has been a little bit hectic and I know it’s going to take some time for me to process all the craziness inside my head!
As always - thanks for reading, and here’s to life’s next chapter ♥