Should I stay or should I go?

Should I stay or should I go?

An actual photo of me in Chicago missing Texas. Photo credit: Nickelodeon

As if the last two years weren’t chocked full of enough big decisions, what could very well end up being the biggest decision of my young adult life looms in the distance. My cohort and I finish our program (God-willing) this December and graduate officially the following May. So, where to next?

This was a huge question when I graduated undergrad in 2012, but it pales in comparison to now. At that time, I lived in Waco, TX, a mere hour from the small town I called home. But this is Chicago. And Chicago is 15 hours from what’s been “home” for over half my life. No such thing as a quick trip home for the day or weekend, unless teleporting becomes a thing soon and very soon.

First things first: I have more expenses living in Chicago than I did living in Texas–neighborhood parking stickers, paying for parking in general, public transit, more taxes, higher rent. I have to admit, it’s all been wearing me out. To the South’s credit, the cost of living is usually fairly low even in more urban areas. Money stretches further: you get more house/apartment/land for your money.

On top of that, I’m getting older. Would I want to start a family in Chicago? What about the education inequality? What about the variation in quality of life between its 77 neighborhoods? What about Chicago’s political circus (as if Texas doesn’t have enough trouble of its own)?

And speaking of families, as youthful as they are, my parents and grandparents are getting older. My baby brother graduates high school in two years and my nephews are growing up so fast. I guess I don’t want whatever career move I make to sweep me into some whirling vortex of deadlines, notepads and missed phone calls. I want to be in the mix and still maintain what and who is important to me.

Getting to see Chance the Rapper perform in a sold-out Sox stadium was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Chicago has definitely made its mark on me.

I have to think about where the opportunities are, obviously–Cash Rules (most of the things) Around Me, to be honest. A great paying job could give me access to my family and loved ones, no matter how far, because I’d be able to afford to travel and see them more often. With enough pay, I could afford to take time off without worrying about making ends meet. In Chicago, I could end up working my dream job–or finding out what that even is, for that matter. And Chicago’s a gorgeous city with so much to do and see and be a part of. I’m sure from this post it seems like I’m already leaning toward moving back home, but what would I be missing out on if I left?

I’ve had more opportunities than I can count here in Chicago and my resume is as thick as a coffee table Bible (you know the one). This city has given me everything, with another semester still to go. Which is great, because I’ll need that time to make these decisions.

So. Where to next? Chicago? Back to Texas? Or somewhere else entirely?

Only time will tell.