At one point in my life I moved from Portland, OR to Chicago, IL. I quit my job, sold my home and packed everything I owned into a Penske truck. My fiancé at the time – we didn’t end up getting married – drove every one of those 2,125 miles. We left in April and saw thunder and lightning in eastern Oregon and snowstorms in Idaho. While we were anxious about the extreme weather we were still excited about the journey. We made it through the upper corner of Utah and then across Wyoming which, I’ll be honest, was a bit tough. Then we drove into Nebraska and trouble began.
You see Oregon, Idaho, Utah have really beautiful landscapes. There’s the Columbia Gorge, the route through the Boise Valley area, the mountains of Utah, and then we headed into the broad expanse of Wyoming and its endless hills…and at some point along the drive it switches to nothing but flat, dry terrain as far as the eyes can see. At some point we hit southern Nebraska and highway 80 and I thought, this is awful, why are we doing this? Holy guacamole, I just want this to be over.
There is nothing but sameness, for miles and miles. The landscape doesn’t vary, it’s brown, dusty, and dry. And the smell….THE SMELL! It’s cow country and you get hit with an odoriferous punch in the face. This was at a time when there was no such thing as Google Maps, no minute-by-minute updates on how much longer we had to go, or how far we’ve come. It’s the part of the drive where I really started questioning my life decisions. “What am I doing?” “How am I going to make money?” “Am I too old to study improv comedy with a bunch of 20 year olds?” “How stupid is this?” I decided to hate every moment of our time in Nebraska which made it seem to take even longer.
And then, out of nowhere, came a glimmer of hope: vibrancy in the form of Omaha, NE. Before we knew it there were the sweet, sweet hills of Iowa and the smell of grass and life. It had rained recently, and I remember rolling down the windows and taking a big whiff of air, it smelled so good! We were getting closer to our final destination. And my thoughts became more positive, “I can’t wait to live in Chicago!”, “We’re going to be living right on the lake!” “Won’t it be awesome to do something totally different?” Our conversation became lively and the last leg of the trip flew by.
It’s a lot like committing to any other kind of change. Initially when you start out it’s exciting, the landscape is new and interesting. You experience challenges but it’s okay because you’re still excited by the newness of it all. But at some point, you’re going to come across your own emotional Nebraska and the negativity will start – “What the hell am I doing?”, “Why did I think I could do this?”, “I’m too; old, uneducated, young, fat, weak (you fill in the blank). You’re going to hate ever starting out on the journey.
It feels tedious with no sense of payoff. You can’t really see how far you’ve come, or how far you still have to go. And then one day you realize…you’ve lost 25 lbs, you CAN do an effective presentation in front of your leadership, you’ve written a whole book, your social media has a ton of real followers who love you…the goal you set out to attain which seemed impossible at one point is totally within your reach because you just kept going.