Choice, Chance, and Change: A Farewell to Florida

Moon and Lola acrylic Florida necklace with a heart over Orlando, my home city! I can't think of a better way to commemorate my hometown after moving (mid)west to Columbia, Missouri.

You know what they say– when life gives you lemons, you move to Missouri. Just kidding, nobody says that. Someone did once say that there are 3 C’s in life, though. Those 3 C’s are choice, chance, and change. You must make the choice … to take the chance … if you want anything in life to change. If Kelly Clarkson didn’t convince you, maybe this post will.

I’m a lifelong Floridian whose biggest move (up until about a week ago) was from Orlando to Tampa. That was when I was recovering from my eating disorder, and my counselor and I decided that a change of scenery would be imperative for a full recovery. In essence, I needed to do things very differently in order to have any chance of improving my quality of life. Even then, I lived in constant denial that my physical address actually changed and drove to Orlando just about every weekend– that is, until I started dating Kyle, but I’ll get to that in a minute.  

Now, when I say I’m a lifelong Floridian, I mean it. I was raised in Orlando, and I went to college in Orlando (Go Knights!). Right after college, I got a job at a boutique wealth management firm in downtown Orlando, and I worked there for over five years before deciding to make Diary of a Debutante my full-time project. I competed in the Miss Florida Pageant. I also competed in the Miss Florida USA Pageant, which was a significantly worse experience, but it still counts. I love oranges. I love the beach. I went to Sea Camp in 7th grade. Hopefully that’s enough evidence to prove that I’m a Florida girl to my core. That’s not to say that I haven’t traveled or seen other parts of the country and/or world, but when it comes to calling a place home, it’s always been and always will be Florida. 

Why We Moved to Columbia, Missouri Why We Moved to Columbia, Missouri Why We Moved to Columbia, MissouriWhy We Moved to Columbia, Missouri

Backing up a little bit– Kyle and I met when I was living in Orlando, but we didn’t get serious until I was living in Tampa and we were within a 30-minute radius of each other. Casual Netflix and Chilling (the real kind– where we actually watched movies) turned into spending every day together, which turned into moving in together, which turned into living in Maine for seven months. I can’t really explain what, but something inside me changed during those seven months. In the days immediately preceeding our 25-hour road trip to Maine, I quit my short-lived job in retail, broke my lease in Hyde Park, Tampa, and moved all my belongings into Kyle’s dad’s spare room. When I told my mom my plan to drop everything and drive to Maine with no concrete future plans whatsoever, she gave me a literal “WTF? Who are you?” reaction. The Type A control freak in me was already becoming way less dominant than she used to be. As someone who suffers from clinical anxiety, it was simultaneously one of the most exciting and stressful times of my life. 

We drove to Maine with the intention of spending three of four weeks in the tranquility of his family’s summer cabin, but as writers, we both instantly fell in love with the peaceful atmosphere and quaint, small town energy. Maine really is a world all its own, and I felt my wanderlust ignite like never before (side note: It’s absolutely breathtaking in the summer, so book a trip and be sure check out my comprehensive Maine Travel Guide). Above all else, I took a lot of pride in the fact that I could finally say I’d lived outside of Florida. However, it never really felt like we “moved” because we had no furniture, we weren’t locked into a 12-month lease, and there were no formal goodbyes. Nothing ever felt final. We knew the Sunshine State would call us home eventually. 

Why We Moved to Columbia, Missouri Why We Moved to Columbia, Missouri

We left our Lincolnville, Maine loft in the beginning of February, and our first few weeks back in Florida were bizarre. As happy as we were to be surrounded by the familiar faces of family and friends, neither of us really wanted to be back. Even in the middle of February, we wanted more of the New England winter (and their seasons in general), and we wanted way less of Florida’s relentless heat and humidity. We held off on signing a lease to avoid being locked in anywhere and shacked up at Kyle’s super generous dad’s house in the interim. I was living out of poorly-packed boxes and bags like a super disorganized nomad, and I still have nightmares about not being able to find my cache of photo props for Instagram posts. In essence, I guess we were just waiting for a sign of some sort. We got one when Kyle was offered a job from (…wait for it…) a relationship 100% cultivated on Twitter. Within a few weeks, we were flown up to Columbia, Missouri, and Kyle and I had the “Are we really going to do this?” talk. 

Turns out, we really were going to do this. To be completely honest, I had no idea and still don’t really have any idea where Missouri is on a map, and I thought Columbia was in South Carolina. Regardless, Kyle was offered a position at his dream company, adventur.es, and I offered my support and compliance in exchange for an office in a really sweet apartment. As uncomfortable as the idea of moving was, I wanted to be with Kyle, and I wanted another Maine-like adventure. Plus, what’s the point of having a flexible job if you don’t seize the ability to leave at a moment’s notice? We signed our lease the day we left Columbia, and from there, it was a done deal. We were moving to Missouri… in a little over two weeks. 

Denial set in almost immediately. I held off telling my family and friends until I absolutely had to. Obviously, I held off telling y’all for quite some time, as well. As excited as I was for Kyle and for our new life in the midwest, I was really scared. We’ve been here for exactly one week, and I’m still scared. I have no friends. I got lost for over 30 minutes trying to find Target (you’re the worst, Google maps). I almost hit a Mizzou student who, to be fair, was jay-walking. I already miss my friends and family in Florida, and I miss working at home with Kyle. Turns out there’s not a whole lot to do when you’re home alone but to actually get work done, which is great for my productivity and horrible for my social life.

However, I like the feeling of a clean slate. A lot. As uncomfortable as the unknown is, it’s really refreshing. And inspiring. We have the opportunity to create whatever kind of life we want here– to make whatever changes we want, and it’s a great feeling. In short, we’re making the choice to take the chance to make huge positive changes in our lives. 

So, there you have it– in the scope of somewhere around a month, I went from a lifelong Floridian to a brand spankin’ new Missourian. Everything’s been such a whirlwind that I haven’t been able to really process or announce anything until now. I apologize for the sporadic posts (or, specifically, lack thereof), but I can promise that I’m dedicated to creating content you’ll love, and and there are already some exciting collaborations in the works. I’m currently trying to get situated, ie wrap my brain around the fact that I’m surrounded by farms and over 1,100 miles from home, and I appreciate your patience and understanding more than you know! You can expect a normal posting schedule from here on out– and again, I hope you stay tuned, cause there’s some fun stuff in the works!

Moon and Lola acrylic Florida necklace with a heart over Orlando, my home city! I can't think of a better way to commemorate my hometown after moving (mid)west to Columbia, Missouri. Moon and Lola acrylic Florida necklace with a heart over Orlando, my home city! I can't think of a better way to commemorate my hometown after moving (mid)west to Columbia, Missouri.

PS- One final note– I miss writing these kinds of posts. There’s a certain ingenuity that gets lost when writing sponsored posts, tutorials, and gift guides. My life really isn’t all that interesting, but I enjoy writing journal-style “life updates” on occasion. They come from the heart, and it’s nice to not have to make a supplemental collage or edit a zillion photos to get my point across, although I did mess around with these photos in Lightroom for quite some time. Most importantly, it hopefully gives you a glimpse into the fact that I’m not really all that obsessed with clothes and makeup. I mean, I am– but the obsession doesn’t dictate how I live my life. 

PPS- If you’re familiar with the Columbia, Missouri area, please please please give me all your food/gym/entertainment suggestions. Coming from the land of public beaches, shopping malls, and Disney World, I’m in dire need of activities that don’t involve Mizzou, although I’m open to football games, specifically the tailgating festivities beforehand. 

Share:

29 thoughts on “Choice, Chance, and Change: A Farewell to Florida

    1. Stephanie Ziajka Post author

      You know, we went there for the first time last weekend with low expectations, and Shakespeare’s Pizza blew us out of the water. It really is as good as everyone says! Also, we’re heading to St. Louis next weekend, so if you have any suggestions, please send them along! 🙂

      xx,
      Stephanie

      Reply
  1. Gentry Adams

    HUGE news!!! We didn’t even get the chance to meet while you were back :(:( So excited for you and your boo though! I lived in Kansas for two years post-college and it was the biggest adventure & such a sweet sentimental time in my life! The midwest is something special!

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Ziajka Post author

      Ahh I know, such a bummer! I’ll be back all the time, though, since Ashley is SUPER preggo and all my family lives there. So, we’ll still have our chance to grab drinks one of these days! Also, if you have any Kansas recommendations, please send them my way! We’re planning all these road trips, and I have no idea where/what to visit. Thanks, lady!

      xx,
      Stephanie

      Reply
  2. Janice Stern

    Congratulations to you and Kyle! I hope you will both be very happy there. That’s certainly a big change. I still plan to get to Maine due to your awesome guide. I’m looking forward to what’s to come for your blog. Lovin’ the “three c”s philosophy. And it is AMAZING what friendships over the Internet can do! From my YouTube channel I’ve made close friends with a fabulous fellow Mom who lives in Italy. When my son was born she sent him a Christmas outfit! It is amazing the kindness and opportunities that can come from someone you’ve never even met! I can’t wait to hear some MO updates and LOVE the personal posts. Take care!

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Ziajka Post author

      Thank you so much, Janice! This was such a great comment to read first thing on a Friday! 🙂 It’s so true, though– “virtual” relationships are more important and valuable now more than ever. It’s so nice to hear that you’ve made so many meaningful connections through YouTube! It gives me so much comfort. Thank you again!

      xx,
      Stephanie

      Reply
  3. Shannon

    Great post! I just moved from Florida to South Carolina in january after living there my whole life. Our decision besides my husbands job was driving back from a trip to Tennessee and we move were not into going back. Funny how that happens! Good luck and happy adventures!

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Ziajka Post author

      Ain’t that the truth? It’s so funny how life throws these epiphanies in our faces at the most random times. We had the same feeling driving home from Maine. Thanks for the kind words, and I hope you’re loving South Carolina!

      xx,
      Stephanie

      Reply
  4. Kristen Shaw

    I’m a new follower, but I felt like as a fellow MO transplant, I had to say hello and welcome! I’m born and raised in KS, but I went to college in Warrensburg and have been to Columbia a couple times. Though that’s hard for me to acknowledge as a Jayhawk. 😉 I don’t have any recs for Columbia, but I have plenty should you find yourself venturing over to KC or St. Louis!

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Ziajka Post author

      Thank you so much for the warm welcome, Kristen! 🙂 I’d love to hear both your KC and St. Louis recommendations! We’re actually heading to St. Louis next weekend!

      xx,
      Stephanie

      Reply
      1. Kristen Shaw

        So sorry I’m just now seeing this, but I hope you enjoyed your time in St. Louis!

        Whenever you come to KC, feel free to email me at [email protected] and I’ll give you some recs! 🙂

        Reply
  5. Alyssa

    I soooo love your blog!!!! You inspire me so much and brighten up my day. This morning, I was having some anxiety attacks again but believe it or not, this blog post pacified me. Thank you for what you do Stephanie!

    Reply
  6. Kristin

    I loved the article, Stephanie! It is really nice to read your voice and hear what it’s really like to go through big life changes. They are so important, but so scary indeed! I bet it is a huge difference working from home by yourself. I’m so excited to see what you come up with next and I hope to get to read some more personal pieces from you. I really enjoy your writing! Hopefully, we will also be able to visit you guys SOON! Miss you so much!

    xoxo Kristo

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Ziajka Post author

      Aw Kristen, this made my day! It’s been an adjustment for sure, but a change of pace is always refreshing. I’m so excited that we get to see you at the end of this month! Please come visit anytime— we’re slowly building our game arsenal for you and Tristan! 🙂

      Miss you tons!

      Reply
  7. texasinak

    Change can be scary and exciting at the same time. I hope Missouri is a great experience. We recently moved to florida. I haven’t yet found a way to feel at home here yet, but Im still trying.

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Ziajka Post author

      Thank you! It’s been great so far, but I feel you– it doesn’t quite feel like home yet. Hope you start loving life in Florida! I know I’m biased, but it really is an incredible place. Enjoy the beach while it’s there– that’s the one thing I wish I hadn’t taken for granted. Best of luck!!

      xx,
      Stephanie

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *