When I decided to move to the Florida Panhandle, it wasn’t because I felt like it. In fact, I was a bit impartial to coming here. The decision to leave Washington, D.C. was based on my current life situation – a situation that I no longer felt like I could control. I was depressed, using unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with it, and living paycheck to paycheck due to high rent and general expenses being, well, expensive. I chose Florida because my parents live here, the cost of living is generally low, the weather is nice, and I didn’t loathe the idea of bumming out for a bit on the beach.
I was only planning on staying here a year to “regain my bearings” on life. I wanted to spend my time improving my mental health and focusing on my goals. I would like to go back to school to get my MFA in writing one day so I figured that I could save up quite a bit of money here. I didn’t plan to stay here any longer than a year though, because, while I did need some time to relax, I rolled my eyes at the thought of not living in a populated, electrifying city. I viewed the panhandle as a series of great, small beach towns where people vacationed, but not as a place where I could build a career or experience the thrills of an urban lifestyle.
Oooooh man, how wrong I was! My outlook on living in Florida, and on life in general, has changed dramatically in the past 6 months. Living in Florida has been nothing but a rejuvenating, paradigm shift for me and I couldn’t be more grateful.
To start, I feel like I finally got my mental health in check. It’s certainly not perfect and I do occasionally find myself in brooding, dark moods; but my overall outlook is much healthier. I am able to focus better on my passions and think clearer which is amazing all on its own.
Additionally, I found something I was absolutely not looking for, which is a boyfriend! I remember when I came down here I was going to swear off men for a while … Isn’t it funny how they always say you always find love when you least expect it?
I got a sales job with a local T.V station that is teaching me how to be more assertive, confident, and bold in business. This job is great because I work from home, and have been able to put a lot more energy into writing and have even discovered a passion for poetry.
I have my parents nearby to spend time with and they have been a huge help in so many aspects of my well-being that I don’t think I will ever be able to thank them properly. It has been so fun taking weekend trips and exploring new places with them!
My personal life aside, I have come to find that Florida is a great place to pursue my hobbies and the nice weather allows me to spend my time in fulfilling ways. When it’s warm, I am constantly out walking on the beach, riding my bike, exploring new places, or reading by my pool. I have read so many books and have been writing so much more.
I was worried that hanging out in the sand with a piña colada would be the only way to consume my free time, but I am so glad to have found a whole plethora of fun things to do! While nothing can compete with the rich, artistic culture of urban life, Florida has its own eclectic culture filled with artists, writers, chefs, yogis, and musicians. From visiting the art galleries and boutiques in 30A, to writing over a cup of coffee at my favorite zen garden, to enjoying the vast array of delectable cuisine, to exploring the local state parks, everything has been bountiful. This spring, I am even planning on getting more involved with the fitness and art communities now that I have a more adjusted routine.
So, overall, Florida has treated me fantastically and was a perfect prescription for finding fulfillment. I still occasionally have doubts about my future and have “off” days, but I am overall filled with serenity and optimism. While I’m not planning on spending the rest of my life here, I definitely think I’ll stay a little longer. ❤