We have some really good days out here – damn beautiful ones. There are moments of such sheer perfection and joy that you just can’t keep a grin off your face.
When I’m out skiing – out in the mountains with my squad on a beautiful day, riding the lift and laughing and crackin’ a Coors and cheersin’, and floating down the hillside and hootin’ and shoutin’ and just having a grand ol’ time – I constantly find myself feeling the irresistible urge to let out a guttural shout to the skies, announcing my bliss: “THIS FUCKIN’ RULES!” (Just ask Nick or RJ - they’ll confirm that they hear it at least a hundred times on mountain days).
It’s a level of happiness that I don’t think I knew before I moved out here, and one which I certainly didn’t know before I decided to upend my life.
Last week marked four years since I left my job as a construction project manager, and man have things changed since then. I had been working for a general contractor for a couple years before deciding to move on. I knew that my heart wasn’t in it - I honestly didn’t know where it was, but I knew that it wasn’t in construction.
I had been pondering quitting for quite some time, and it all hit me in a meeting when my boss was describing a family member who lived in Colorado: “Every time we go out to visit, they seem so happy all the time - just beaming. And you wonder – it has to be fake, right? No one is actually that happy all the time, right?”
As soon as I heard those words, my decision was made. In his mind it may be impossible for anyone to be that happy all the time, but I wanted to find out for myself. I put in my notice a couple weeks later.
In his mind it may be impossible for anyone to be that happy all the time,
but I wanted to find out for myself. I put in my notice a couple weeks later.
On my last day, I wrote the team an email explaining my decision: “I learned at an early age that life is short, and you have to make the most of the time you are given. This is a hard decision to make, but it has been even harder waking up every morning to go do something that I don’t love. With the amount of time and energy that goes into a career, you need to have a fire in your heart for whatever you’re doing. Although I’m not quite sure what lies ahead of me, I have realized that construction is not it.“
I had no idea what was going to happen, where I may go, what I may do, but I knew that I needed to move on. So, I left. And here I am.
It was not direct and it was not easy. I hopped from odd jobs to seasonal employment to working on a project which didn’t earn me a dime, back to a stable job which I was similarly-unenthusiastic about, to freelancing [read: starving]. I got paid to evaluate Google results and whiskies and churches. I ran photo booths and did manual labor and worked at a magazine and as a photographer on a mountain.
Between each piece of that whole cacophony (and amidst it) there was sheer and utter beauty. I saw 40 new national parks. I hiked the JMT and spent well over six total months roadtripping all over the country. I wrote a book, learned to ski, and almost landed on a survival TV show. I officiated three weddings, hiked hundreds of miles, camped countless nights and drank roughly one million Coors. I was introduced to Moab and now have been there more times than I can remember. I was introduced to Colorado and it’s now my home.
But after all that, I was still searching for the elusive job that I truly needed – one that was both gratifying and sustainable.
The hunt was turbulent and exhausting. Even when I moved to Denver last November, I suffered through months of unanswered job applications and was eventually forced to apply for multiple construction jobs despite still not feeling stoked about it.
I felt like I was letting myself down – for years I’d advocated pursuing your passions and here I was possibly settling for something that I didn't want. I was broke and tired and ready to just accept that maybe you simply aren’t supposed to enjoy your job. Maybe my old boss was right – maybe it actually was impossible to truly be that happy.
But now, in a wild turn of events, I find myself in just a perfect situation - in Denver, a place that I hadn’t even been four years ago, now calling it home, now happier than ever.
I’m living in a sweet house that was built in 1915 – probably my favorite place I’ve lived – with one of my best friends (and our friendly ghost, George). Adding to that, I live in the same city as my youngest sister and two of my best friends whom I’ve known since middle school (with one more moving out in a couple weeks). On winter weekends we ski all day and shout through the woods. On summer weekends we camp and hike all day and shout through the woods.
So, I guess I finally answered the question which led me to leave my construction job -
it is actually possible to be this happy all of the time.
Weather is prime pretty much every day and summer is impending – the season in which I thrive - camping and hiking and rafting trips and yard parties and porch nights, and maybe even a brunch or two.
I’m working for the coolest company I’ve ever been a part of and I genuinely look forward to going to work each day. I’m doing PR and I love the challenges and lessons that it presents, and even without any direct experience, I’m naturally pretty decent at it.
I get to rep a climbing gym, a company that makes packable adventure gear, and a business that makes a heady daily superfood. My clients are rad and my coworkers are even moreso. We’re a bunch of goofy twenty- or thirty-somethings who crush media planning and public relations for a plethora of dope outdoor brands. Everyone loves adventuring almost as much as they love beer. We have four kegs in our office and most days we go on a beer walk to tour them all. My colleagues have become some of my best friends, and I love that I get to spend so much time with them.
Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is… yeah, go after your dreams, whatever those may be. I didn’t know what I wanted (certainly didn’t expect to go from an engineering position into a writing-centric one), but I figured it out along the way. I undoubtedly hit some stumbling blocks, but the wild turns and bumps in the road are just part of the adventure.
I guess I finally answered the question which led me to leave my construction job - it is actually possible to be this happy all of the time. It took a while, but here I am - on a typical workday finding myself laughing, huge grin across my face, feeling the irresistible urge to shout in gratitude. THIS FUCKIN’ RULES.