By Nikki Carter
I’m freshly home from a two-week trip to Europe. My partner and I went to Frankfurt, Florence (where we got engaged!), Venice, and then Rome.
I had an amazing time. I saw so many things I’d always wanted to see. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t so ready to come home by the end of the trip.
I missed our cats. I missed our little routine at home. I missed going to Boomtown and getting a decaf iced latte with oat milk and cinnamon on top. I missed breakfast tacos and my exercise routine and being in the same time zone as everyone I care about.
And, to be honest with you, I missed working!
I’m a freelance writer and editor. I’ve been freelancing since 2011, first as a side hustle and then full-time since 2018. I took at least a week of the vacation completely off, which is unusual for me, as I’m usually working throughout my trips.
While I was “out of office,” I spent a lot of time thinking about my business, my life, and where I want to go next. I’ve been kind of at a crossroads; I originally moved to Houston in 2021 to pursue law school. I thought I was ready to leave freelancing and start a totally different career but, as it turns out, I’m not. I appreciate the freedom and independence I have as a freelancer—not to mention the creativity I get to explore—and I’m not ready to turn that in.
I’ve gotten better about it, but I still feel some friction when I decide to make a change in my life, whether that’s choosing to go after something or choosing to stop going after it. It feels wrong, like I should be able to just “stick with it” and not question things so much.
I felt that way when I stopped drinking alcohol, when I started saying “no” to social engagements that depleted me, when I left the corporate workplace, when I moved around from city to city in search of inspiration. I compared myself to people with so-called “stable” lives: the ones with established long-term partnerships, people have lived in the same place for years and done the same things for years and seem perfectly content.
I, on the other hand, crave some sort of consistent novelty. I used to wonder what was wrong with me. Now I realize I’m better off when I don’t try to fight my true nature, which is one that enjoys change.
I’ve been thinking about the cyclical nature of things. In American culture, we don’t talk enough about the life-death-life cycle (highly recommend reading Women Who Run With the Wolves to learn more about this). We don’t really honor the lows and middle times of our cycles; we spend more time celebrating and highlighting the highs—that’s why when anyone asks about my trip, I talk first about the best part (getting engaged) and usually leave out the homesickness and desire to return to my routine.
The weather is (finally) getting colder here, which is our reminder that the seasons are shifting. In other places, leaves are falling, trees are bare, and maybe even snow is falling. The earth quite literally shows us that it’s perfectly natural to change, to shed things, to let go. I want to remember that as I move into this winter season and the next year of my life and allow myself the space to change without judgment as well.