Part 1: Travel More

Six years ago, I packed my bags and moved to California to follow a dream of freedom and exploration.

With any major life decision, it’s always a good idea to think it through. Looking back, I can’t say I did that, but I have no regrets. I was uninspired and stuck in a plateau with my career. I wasn’t happy or felt like my life was going in the right direction. Being from PDX (Portland, Oregon) is a blessing and a curse. It’s a big small town. Everyone knows each other, especially if you’re a local. The design community is heavily saturated and very competitive, and the job market was slow. Although I was a designer, I wasn’t in the print or packaging industry, which dominated most of Portland’s agencies. San Francisco’s economy was booming and had much more promise and opportunity in my field of work.

In June of 2016, I was headed to California on a 10-day road trip to visit San Francisco (I hadn’t been back to California since I had dropped out of art school in 2008 to go to the University of Oregon.) There was this gravitational pull to make this drastic change to turn my vacation into moving back to the bay area. So, I sold all my furniture, most clothing, and rented the apartment within two weeks before leaving. June 11th, 2016, I started second-guessing my choice to make this move, but it felt right. I had no idea if I would fail or succeed in this venture, but I knew that I needed a break to restart my life.

Although I looked for work when I moved down to the bay area, I primarily focused on traveling and exploring California. Taking a break from work was scary, but I needed that sabbatical for my burnout. 

During that seven months, I met new people, joined a meditation group in Oakland, got caught in a blizzard in 
Lake Tahoe, hiked to Vernal Falls in Yosemite, and watched surfers in Santa Cruz, camped in Mendocino, rock climbed, and enjoyed the sunshine. During this time, I fell in love with photography and documenting my journey through my camera lens. As my trip was sudden and unplanned, my ability to continue to stay in California was cut short. The lack of planning and looking for work hurt my chances to figure out my next job opportunity in the city. 

After making a strong effort to relocate, I had to repack my bags to move back to Portland. I felt defeated, but in that defeat, I found hope. The connections I had made were immeasurable. I met several clients during my relocation, including Mariya Stangl, Adrienne Pao, and the owner of Palio Coffee, because I was open to building new relationships during my time in the bay area.

The lesson I learned from that venture made me realize I needed to prepare before moving to a new city. While driving back to Portland, I slowed down and got clear about where I wanted to go next: Seattle, Washington.

Stay tuned for Part 2.