Guest Post: Life Out of My Comfort Zone

2009 August 24
by Grace Boyle

trinaThis is a guest post from Trina a self-proclaimed corn-fed Iowan (yes, we’re both from the same state) who bleeds black and gold.  However, it has been nearly two years since she threw her life plan out the window and left the comforts of the Hawkeye State.  She started Trina Left Iowa as a forum to share her experiences as she learns about life and the world outside Iowa.


Many of us have lived a life with minimal risk.  It is in this riskless lifestyle where we create comfort zones allowing us to continue on in a steady state of happiness.  Others of us have shattered our comfort zones by taking major risks, such as moving to Colorado or traveling abroad, as soon as we were able.

My life up to my twenties was mostly lived in my comfort zone: Iowa.  I was born and raised in Ida Grove, IA (Northwestern Iowa).  Although it was small with only 2,350 people and one stoplight, Ida Grove was a truly blissful place to grow up.  I was among life-long family friends, close to a majority of both sides of my family, able to roam the streets on my bike at all hours and felt very safe—the only crimes I can remember were drug related and rare.  My parents were happily married and both had steady, full-time employment.  Life was grand.

iowa1

Country Roads Back Home

Despite all the comforts, I had been yearning to experience culture and life in a big city from an early age.  Ida County is particularly rural and far from…everything.  We were 1 hour to Sioux City, 2 hours to Omaha and around 2.5 hours to Des Moines.  Wal-Mart and fast food places were 26 miles away, and the nearest shopping mall was in Sioux City (you shopped with a mission).  The population was homogenous to say the least with nearly 99% of residents being white (most of them probably Christian), less than 1% foreign born and less than 2% speaking a language other than English at home.

The First Leap: College

When it came time to end high school and leave this safe haven, I went as far as in-state tuition would allow: IOWA CITY.  My first few years at the University of Iowa were incredibly happy.  I was surrounded by a mixture of native Iowans, Chicagoans who migrated over for school and many free spirits.  Iowa City is a very unique spot in Iowa filled with artists, liberals, academics and free thinking people.  I finally settled on Biology/pre-medicine as my track and was pushing myself intellectually in the best kind of way.  Iowa City seemed to be the perfect stepping stone for a small-town girl desiring a bigger city (the Chicagoans thought the “Iowa City is a big city” bit was hilarious).

It was in my final months at Iowa when I started to have these intense moments of clarity.  It was a combination of study burnout, self-inflicted exhaustion, a desire to know who I was and a gut feeling that screamed “GET OUT OF HERE ALREADY!”  I was having a flash of my twenties in expensive medical school in the state of Iowa (where I got accepted)…and I HATED it.  I had an epiphany that I needed to use my twenties to discover who I was, and I knew I wasn’t a life-long Iowan.  I had nothing holding me back…why not leave?

Making the Real Leap

I looked for grown up jobs in Chicago, but I wound up finding a company out of Plano, TX (North Dallas) with a development program for healthcare IT consultants.  I was to be in Plano for 3 months, learn all about healthcare IT systems and then be deployed to any of the cities with open roles.  This was a huge RISK and unlike anything I’d ever done before.  Also, was I really going to be moving to Texas?

Prior to my Texan adventure, I spent my last few days in comfortable Ida Grove…comfortable is perhaps the wrong word.  I was stressed, not sleeping particularly well, experiencing heartburn (it’s horrible!) and losing my appetite (this really never happens!).  I’d made the decision without hesitation, but the enormity of it was hitting me like a freight train.  Part of me was thrilled about the adventure and potential self discovery, but the other half was terrified of the unknown.  I took deep breaths and headed to Texas.

My first 3 months in Plano wound up being some of the happiest in my life.  Texas was warm in the winter, I fell head over heels for an Irishman and I met some of the most wonderfully diverse and funny people.  I grew up, learned about self awareness and started to build confidence.

Leaving Iowa for Texas was a 751 mile leap outside of my comfort zone. After the development program ended, I was sent to Chicago very briefly, then to Rhode Island for 8 months and now back to Dallas.  All of these moves were out of my comfort zone and some of them were NOT POSITIVE experiences.  Even though there was a lot of pain, I wouldn’t change any of them, because I grew up in the process.  I’m a tougher, better person because I stepped out of my comfort zone, and I amassed some great stories through it all.

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  • http://ryanstephensmarketing.com/blog/ ryanstephens

    Out of your comfort zone would be somewhere BESIDES Texas :) Anywhere in the world's greatest nation is both comfortable and awesome. But yeah, I LOVE the Plano, Frisco, Addison area, and wish I had other people's ability to embrace their new city. I left Texas for Charlotte, and at first I didn't even give it a chance. Now I have, it's still not Texas. :)

    Thanks for sharing, and thanks to you Grace for giving Trina the platform to share her experience, one quite a few of us have encountered since graduation.

  • http://trinaleftiowa.com TrinaLeftIowa

    Thanks Ryan! Yes, the Dallas area has some really great spots…once you find your way around the highways and toll roads :) I got a toll tag and figured them out pretty quickly.

    Yes, a big thank you to Grace for giving me the opportunity to post on her fabulous blog!

  • http://www.theartofawkward.com/ elaineellis

    Great post! Chicks who Click had a great panel that touched upon taking intelligent and educated risks. Nice to see a great example of this!

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Elaine I like how that sounds, “intelligent and educated risks.” I think it's so important and I can say without doubt that the risks I have taken in my life have shaped me completely. I have also learned the most when taking risk.

    @Trina Thanks for writing this post! I love connecting with other bloggers, especially who are from Iowa and have taken a big leap/risk in life 😉

    @Ryan Haha, we all know you're pro-Texas. But different is different, just as you felt when you went to Charlotte. And ultimately, it's exciting to know what works for you by location, city and vibe. Stick with that :)

  • http://trinaleftiowa.com TrinaLeftIowa

    Thanks Elaine! Even when some risks are intelligent and educated, they can still be terrifying. :) I just poked around on your blog and loved your work. The posts about fashion are lovely. Cheers!

  • http://www.theartofawkward.com/ elaineellis

    Great post! Chicks who Click had a great panel that touched upon taking intelligent and educated risks. Nice to see a great example of this!

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.blogspot.com Grace Boyle

    @Elaine I like how that sounds, “intelligent and educated risks.” I think it's so important and I can say without doubt that the risks I have taken in my life have shaped me completely. I have also learned the most when taking risk.

    @Trina Thanks for writing this post! I love connecting with other bloggers, especially who are from Iowa and have taken a big leap/risk in life 😉

    @Ryan Haha, we all know you're pro-Texas. But different is different, just as you felt when you went to Charlotte. And ultimately, it's exciting to know what works for you by location, city and vibe. Stick with that :)

  • http://trinaleftiowa.com TrinaLeftIowa

    Thanks Elaine! Even when some risks are intelligent and educated, they can still be terrifying. :) I just poked around on your blog and loved your work. The posts about fashion are lovely. Cheers!

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  • Katie

    Grace – Do you know of any other blogs similar to Trina Left Iowa, as this one is no longer live?  I’m thinking about/planning a similar move and would love to read more about others relocations.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

     Katie that’s a great question. Too bad to hear about Trina’s blog no longer being live. She talked about her adventures and her everyday life. We actually connected because she read my blogs on moving and relocating. If you haven’t found them already, under here (http://smallhandsbigideas.com/best-of/) you can see all my moving posts sharing details, what I learned, how you should plan, etc.

    Otherwise, there aren’t a lot of blogs just on moving because you move, then you have to blog about something else :)

    Try some of these blog posts and great blogs: http://thesmartcollegegrad.com/top-50-tips-in-your-20s/, http://studenomics.com/application/20-financial-moves-in-your-20s/, http://clementineknits.blogspot.com/2012/01/advice-for-moving-to-new-city-in-your.html or even http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2010/07/19/financial-checklist-s/. Good luck and have fun!

  • Katie

    I suppose you’re right!  Thanks for the post suggestions.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    Of course! I hope that helps :)