4 years in Chicago and now it’s time to travel

The ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term is the indispensable prerequisite for success.

~Maxwell Maltz

For the past 4 years I have been living and working in Chicago as a video producer at JenChicago.com.  It has been an amazing and rewarding personal journey and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  The time in Chicago has changed and grown me in so many apects- all of which I am filing under “For My Greater Good”, even if the lessons felt like a kick in the gut at the time.

I’ve learned not to say I don’t like a new food before I’ve tried it or can pronounce it.  Mmm… Chicago chefs.  (Cute, too.)

I’ve learned that people might not pay you when they say they will.  And then act like you’re the jerk for continually asking about it.    (Really?)

I’ve learned always get it in writing.  This is a recurring lesson for me because when I meet the “right” kind of people and/or friends to work with- a handshake works out just fine and can be significantly faster.  (What can I say?  I’m a hippie.)

But most of all, learning about the many cultures and neighborhoods of Chicago has fueled and fired my passion and desire to travel!  Being born and raised in Austin, TX meant that I experienced mostly the same 3 “kinds” of people.  White, black or brown.  Sure, there’s the cultural diversity of UT but it’s nothing like Chicago.  There’s not a different cultural parade on any given weekend in Texas.  It’s just different.  And slower.

And if you’re like me- popping into the middle of Chicago’s social scene meant rubbing elbows with celebrities, socialites, business owners, politicians, tourists, artists, promoters, journalists, entrepreneurs and straight-up hustlers from every corner and culture of the world.  I’m sure there are some docile people in Chicago- but they must have been at other parties or “just visiting” from Canada.

I dare say… “If you can make it in Chicago- you can make it anywhere.”

So there’s a badge of honor involved in what I have accomplished in the Windy City- and I wear it with Midwest pride.  And with all that I have learned about myself in America’s 3rd largest city, I find myself again at a crossroads.  I look up for clarification and the metaphorical sign says “What is the most important thing?”

And that’s how I know I’m ready to take the next step.  It’s time for me to travel.

After tossing around tons of ideas about where to go first, how to fund it and the enumerable other logistics involved in traveling, I’ve settled on Costa Rica.  It’s beautiful, full of adventure, costs less than the US, the list goes on.  Plus, it would allow me to learn Spanish in the best way possible- full immersion.  Then, when people ask if I speak Spanish, I won’t feel like the kid that didn’t pay attention in class.  I’ll be a true Latina.

I’m gonna miss Chicago though.  Austin too.  The nice thing is that neither city is going anywhere- as Mom reminds me.  And I get to come back being bilingual!  Oooh yeah.  And three months will pass quickly- as they always do.  But… it’s still hard to take a pause from the momentum of something that was the biggest part of my life for the past 4 years.  It feels like we’re breaking up.  It’s not you- it’s me.  Ugh.

But, as the quote at the top of the post says- sometimes you have to delay gratification.  There’s just not enough of me to do both equally well- so I have to choose.  I hope the people who enjoyed JenChicago videos will tune in to JenTravels while I’m on my adventure.  That would be awesome.

So that’s it.  I’m bouncing between Austin and Chicago this summer while I put the corresponding 3-month video project together.  If all goes according to plan and sponsors fall into place- I’ll be in Costa Rica come fall.

Until then- I intend to post all things travel-related here.  Chicago, Austin, and everything in between.  I’m not sure what that will look like- videos, pictures, advice, opinions, tips… so just stay tuned and bear with me.

do know that I hope to engage y’all in conversations about travel and happiness, so I may often end with a question such as this:

What have you learned about yourself regarding travel?

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