I launched this new site on a couple days ago with an email.
I decided to send that email out to the hundred or so email subscribers I had at the time rather than the 14,000 strangers following me on Instagram or in a public blog post because it felt like too much to say to that many people. It felt too personal to just put it out there for anyone at all to read. I wanted it to be a little harder to access, I guess. I was afraid (and am still afraid) of what people will think about me leaving an awesome job and an awesome city. But I hit send anyway.
The below text from that early morning email doesn’t cover everything. It doesn’t cover every fear I had about leaving New York (or every reason I had for leaving) and it doesn’t (and maybe couldn’t) fully cover how grateful I am for what my time in New York meant to me and what it still does, but it does explain how I started to make up my mind about leaving and why. So many people have asked me to re-send the below email that I thought I would just put it here despite any shortcomings it might have and despite the fact that it gives me a bit of anxiety to share. But this will now be my first blog post on my new website, and I guess that feels fitting, too.
If you know me, whether in real life or from Instagram, then you might know that I recently quit my job.
You might also know that I had a pretty great job. A job that meant I was surrounded by inspiring, talented women every day. A job that meant I got to write a lot, edit work from other amazing writers, and on one occasion sit next to Madonna while she stroked my hair (still trying to process that one). It was a job that provided me with endless opportunities and also, notably, unlimited cold brew and Cheddar Jalapeno Crunchy Cheetos (if you know, you know). It was, in every sense of the phrase, my dream job. If you had told 15-year-old me that one day I would be a Fashion & Beauty Editor working in New York City, I would have laughed in your face, cried, or maybe both. Actually, almost definitely both.
But somewhere in the murkiness that was my early 20s, dream job and all, I simply stopped asking myself what I actually wanted out life, out of my work, and started blindly chasing career milestones. I knew I wanted to be promoted, because that was the logical next stop to be “successful” in my mind. So I worked really hard and I did pretty well for myself. And don’t get me wrong, I loved my work. But did I love New York? Did I want to be in this career and place forever? If not, did I want to leave in five years? In three? In two? If I never got promoted again, would I still be happy? If I didn’t live in New York, what would I want my career to look like? I didn’t stop to ask myself, really. And if I ever did, I was never prepared to respond to my answers with action because sometimes my answers were scary. I wasn’t living intentionally. And, hey, most people aren’t living intentionally in their early 20s, and this isn’t a big deal. It’s what your early 20s are for, in a lot of ways. So I went through the motions, and was happy enough. But then I lost one of my best friends.
And if you know me, you probably know this part of my life, too. When my friend died it was the end of 2017, the world as I knew it — and therein success as I knew it, happiness as I knew it, joy as I knew it, life in its entirety as I knew it — simply sputtered out and died for a little bit. But, as all of us know who have experienced loss, life also keeps going and eventually I realized this, too. So I came out on the other side of grief, or amidst it, and I sat down with myself for a few months. I asked myself what I wanted my life to look like down to the smallest details. I talked to my fiancé. I asked myself what made me happiest. I asked myself if I wanted to be where I was, both physically and mentally. I wrote down a set of changes and challenges, and I got to work.
The thing is that I didn’t know then (and I still don’t know now) how to process my friend’s loss without trying my hardest to live every single day intentionally. And that means questioning every single time my impulse is to not do something because I’m too scared or because I dislike my body or because I’m worried what people think. It meant building my own creative business bit by bit over the course of the last year. It meant eventually quitting my job (and crying while doing so, by the way). It meant moving out of New York City to be closer to friends and family. It meant spending more time with my fiancé and my dog. And it also meant responding to every wave of grief with this meditation — that because of my friend, I choose to live differently now.
I had planned this email to be a straight forward, “Hey, my new personal website is live” kick-off message. But the truth is that there’s no way I can talk about this new website and the start of my new career and life without talking about Ashleigh first. I’ve gotten a lot of messages and emails and comments lately asking, “Why?” “Why move? Why quit? Why freelance?” And the truth is that Ashleigh is my why. She’s why I’m here in this new, unfamiliar place in my life that I’m a little scared of, but makes me happier than I’ve ever been anyway. So if you’re following along the journey, welcome. I’m happy you’re here, too.