Four years ago this month, I moved my life to Connecticut.
After three years at UAlbany, where I completed three internships and a semester abroad, I began working a dream job at ESPN, the biggest sports media brand in the entire world. The pinnacle of my profession, right from the beginning.
I had the education. The accolades. The advanced classes. The worldly experience. The strong upbringing.
I felt as prepared as anyone.
And even still, that wasn’t enough.
Because my first year in Connecticut was the hardest year of my life.*
Everything and everyone I’d ever known disappeared overnight, and it shattered me.
I lost 20 pounds almost instantly (unhealthily), becoming unrecognizable to the people who loved me.
Mondays and Tuesdays were my off days from work. You try making friends or going on dates under those circumstances.
I remember working late on Saturday nights during college football season. I’d open Snapchat to keep myself awake, only to see all my friends enjoying the hell out of their senior year, a year I decided to forgo entirely.
It hurt, and it constantly reminded me how alone I felt.
But those fleeting moments only patched me up for so long.
Then I'd break again.
I remember one night specifically in that first year. The thought of it still gives me chills. I won’t describe what happened, but I’ll just say that I explored the darkest corners of my mind that night, places that I didn’t know existed.
I never want to feel that way again.
And when I begin the newest chapter of my life this week, I’m confident I won’t.
Because at 25 years old, I understand myself far better than I did at 21. I know my needs now.
For example, I know I have to surround myself with my people. Despite my love for the city, I ultimately decided against living in Denver long-term for this reason.
I don’t know anyone in Portsmouth. But I do know several people in Boston, which I can drive to in under an hour.
My best friend, his girlfriend and their buddies live in Somerville. Two of the women I adore most in this world are in Cambridge and Brighton. Plus, a couple friends from high school live in downtown Boston.
While I’ll try my best to find my own crew in Portsmouth, it’s extremely comforting to know I can find all that love a short drive up the interstate.
Career-wise, I’m much more self-aware these days. I arrived to ESPN with one specific dream, and I was so far away from achieving it.
To make up for that, I worked myself into exhaustion, unnecessarily putting in 50-60 hours to try to stand out. As a result, I messed up on the job. A lot. And my mistakes nearly cost me the position I’d worked so hard to get to.
Today, I’m doing something I love, something I’m good at. The people I work with really care about me. They give me control and confidence to be the best me I can be, offering a support system ESPN didn’t initially offer me.
(And if you were wondering, I did finally accomplish that work dream late last year, and I’m damn proud of it.)
Health-wise, I’m feeling good. I’m beginning to prioritize sleep more. My exercise and nutrition remain on point, except for one-too-many IPAs on the weekends these days.
All in all, I feel much more prepared to thrive in Portsmouth than I did in Connecticut.
It’s taken a lot of work, a lot of introspection, many long walks, and a three-month stay in Colorado for me to realize what I need.
And the kind of person I want to be.
I know myself now.
And I’m determined to never lose sight of that person again.
*I'm very aware this is not the definition of a hard life. The atrocities going on in countries like Afghanistan, Cuba and North Korea are much worse than anything I could ever imagine.
For more blog posts from me, please check out the entire archives. Love you guys.