What Chicago has Taught Me

Now that I am closing in on the last month in the city that I’ve called home for the last 5 1/2 years, I’m realizing how much I’ve changed from the girl that moved here at age 23 and all the lessons I’ve learned because I lived here.  I guess in the end you always think back to the beginning like any relationship right?

It hasn’t always been a strong relationship between Chicago and myself.  For the past 2 good years I have complained to no end about this place.  I hate the weather, I can’t stand all the people, public transportation is wearing on me, there is no nature nearby, I’m tired of this fast paced lifestyle, etc.  However, there was a time when I praised Chicago and the city could do no wrong.  There is so much to do here, so much diversity, everything is so accessible, I could go to a new bar and restaurant every night of the week and weekend if I wanted to.  I would tell my parents that they are crazy to think that I’d EVER want to live in a house in a suburb.

Although my preferences are changing and I’m now looking for a new adventure, I can’t deny that Chicago has had a huge part in making me the person that I am today and I wouldn’t be doing what I am without this place.

First and foremost, Chicago has taught me to be more self sufficient and independent.  As cheesy as this sounds, I entered this city as a scared,helpless girl and am now leaving as a well established (okay sort of) woman.  I figured out how to navigate the city, use the public transportation, hail a cab, look for an apartment, and go to new neighborhoods and job interviews by myself.  I also remember the first night that I stayed alone in my apartment and how terrified I was that someone was going to break in so I put all of this trash by the door so I’d hear it knock over if someone did.  All of these things that sound so simple now, were so new and made me nervous back then.

Chicago has also helped me learn about trying new things.  Before I lived here, this is something I did not do besides travel.  Living here has given me the opportunity to go trapezing, indoor skydive, take tarot classes, eat at any ethnic restaurant that I have a craving for or have always wanted to try, try any type of workout class under the sun and so much more.  I think living here has to an extent helped push me out of my comfort zone and for that I will always be greatful.  Living in a city like this opens so many doors and you just have to be able and willing to take advantage of what it has to offer.

In the past 5 1/2 years, I have also learned that I need to work for what I want.  During my time here I have experienced some of my loneliest, most depressing, and frustrating times in my life.  Whether that be working for a job that I hated, missing my friends and family because I was here and they weren’t, watching Dan go through busy season after busy season, whatever it may have been.  In addition, I have also experienced some of the best times in my life.  I got married in Chicago, celebrated engagements and weddings with my best friends, celebrated birthdays, went to concerts, got my cats here, got my first apartment, found a job that I love, etc. all because I worked hard for those things that I’ve wanted. I’ve really learned the meaning of “be happy with what you have while working for what you want”.

In the end, Chicago has helped me figure out what I think I really want, or just want I really want my next step to be.  Without all of my experiences here, I wouldn’t have known that maybe having a little house and a yard someday may not be so bad.  Or that I really do crave to be near nature and have more solitude than I do now.  I used to think I was an extrovert but living here has made me realize I’m a true introvert and I seek a lifestyle that supports my quietness better.

Although I don’t know yet what my future holds and who knows, maybe I’ll be back, I will always have a very soft spot in my heart for the Windy City and all of the memories and lessons it has given me.

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