How I Accelerated My Life… To New Jersey

My life recently took off; accelerated if you will. It accelerated all the way from Missouri to New Jersey. Two very different states to say the least.

New Jersey and I are friends now. But we didn’t start off so chummy. The Garden State and I had a bit of a rocky start.

Things move a little more slowly in Missouri. It’s more of a casual, stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of place. New Jersey is a fast moving state, more of a hurry-up-and-get-out-of-my-way kind of place. I’ve learned I fall in the middle of these two attitudes. Fast driver who occasionally wants to take in a sunset.

I moved from St. Louis, Missouri to New Jersey in August 2013. I was newly engaged and figured it was a smart relationship move to live in the same state as my fiancé. Looking back, I blindly dove head first into my move from the slow-paced country landscapes of Missouri to the fast-moving, fast-talking, fast-driving urban New Jersey. I was so excited to start a new life, meet new friends and explore new opportunities. And I have, believe me. I’ve meet amazing new friends and have the greatest people in my life. I’ve experienced so many ‘news,’ and visited tons of exciting places. But it wasn’t an easy start.

I expected all of these new things to happen immediately and all at once when I landed in New Jersey. They didn’t. I spent about three months completely lost, literally and figuratively. (When I found Target without the GPS it was no small victory. What’s with all the jug handles and no right turn on red?) I missed my family, my friends, and my two-year-old nephew most of all. I had never lived more than three hours away from my family and it hit me hard.

I missed the connection to my family and the sense of belonging. I missed being able to play trains with my nephew and go fishing with my dad. Thanksgiving came and I missed my mom’s pumpkin pie and playing board games with my brother. I missed the traditions and the people. I was lost.

I thought starting school would help, expecting to meet a ton of new friends right off the bat like I had when I was an undergrad. (Graduate school is a whole different animal, believe me.) I didn’t realize there would be such an age gap between me and the other ‘kids’ in my classes. All of a sudden I was the old lady in class. At 29.So here I was, dealing with a new state, a new school and a new group of people around me that were born in the 1990s. The 90s! They didn’t remember Cabbage Patch Kids, Care Bears or Atari. They hadn’t teased their bangs vertically a mile high or permed their hair every summer. They didn’t wear jean jackets or so much neon that it should have been illegal. They had never watched Alf or Cheers. How was I going to make friends?!

I shouldn’t have worried, because I did make friends — great ones. And even though they’re younger than me, we have a common goal — to graduate. Turns out, that shared aspirations can do a lot to bring people together. I’m happy to say that I have amazing friends now, not just from school, but from other ways my life began to accelerate.

After eight years working professionally in journalism and public relations, I found myself without a job so I could focus on school full time. My excitement at being unemployed lasted about two months before I got bored and felt useless. Thankfully, I began volunteering at my local YMCA and my life changed. Or dare I say accelerated, once again.

I was placed in a preschool program where I taught two, three, and four year olds. I fell in love. I loved watching the kids learn something new everyday, experience new interests and learn to make friends (something I was doing too!). I was lucky to have a Y family, and eventually made wonderful friends from my time there.

My life was finally starting to take shape and become balanced in my new home state. I was even able to drive efficiently without getting lost three or four times per trip to the grocery store. I was content with my progress. Then along came a little thing called TEDxNavesink.

I’m a content and marketing specialist with the TEDxNavesink team. I write and edit blog posts, generate a blog schedule, post teases on social media, and really just do anything I’m asked. And it’s with this team that I’ve finally gained a sense of usefulness and fulfillment in my new life.

The TEDxNavesink team is chock-full of people who love their community, love to spread ideas and love to bring great minds together for thought-provoking discussions. They also love to welcome new people into the group to help fulfill the TED mission. I have never felt more welcomed and more respected with any new venture as I have with TEDxNavesink. I remember leaving my first full-team meeting feeling giddy and excited to start work. I guess that’s how you feel when you’ve finally found the right fit.

The connections I have made through TEDxNavesink have opened doors I didn’t even know existed. Life’s all about connections and networks, trust me. A place is just a place until you put people in it, and those people can help make a place a home.

With TEDx, my new life accelerated to belonging. This is not to say I wasn’t happy with my life, I was just out-of-sorts so to speak. Plopping a born-and-raised Missouri (not Missour-ah) girl in the middle of New Jersey there were bound to be some struggles and a learning curve. I was a fish out of water, and I’ve found my place by the sea.

TEDxNavesink changed my life, and it can change yours! Join us for a day full of speakers who are sure to leave you giddy and excited. Get your tickets here! But hurry, there are only a few more days left to get them!




Don't Miss A Beat - Get our Newsletter!
  • Learn about new TEDxNavesink Events
  • Discover local change-makers
  • Get fresh content from our blog
Enter your Name and Email to Subscribe!