Has there ever been a point in your life where you found yourself someplace you didn’t want to be? A relationship you knew wasn’t right? A job that was sucking the life out of you? Your intuition telling you something feels wrong? Yeah? Hey, me too. And I wrote this blog for you.
My name is Charli and I’m a chick. I like to think a cool one at that. I mean how can a girl have a guy name and not be, right? At least that’s what I tell myself. I just launched what I’m calling my #finerasa29er year to embrace aging while babe-ing. I’ll be doing things I’ve never done each month to celebrate my twenties and make memories that last and find out more of what I love doing and not doing. Feel free to follow along @charlimuchow. I live in Chicago, run a work-from-home direct sales business at night, a tech company during the day, take Lyft to and from work to meet unique people because no one talks on the train, and spend free time reading personal development books. Although all of that may be typical of a city chick, my story is not the norm for someone who started where I did.
For me, that was rural Wisco on a gorgeous 100 year-old family farm. I grew up in a town that has one gas station, two churches, two bars, a couple delicious cafes, and a sense of community you’ll never find in a big city. I lived the dream as a kid. I’m the oldest of three in a family of 5. I grew up on 400ish acres of land, in which we hunted and harvested. To be honest, I feel most at peace when I’m hiking it with our family Lab, Riley.
As a young girl, I chased kittens with my sister, threw the ball with my bro, woke up before the sun to hunt with my dad, and built forts in the woods after picking a pail of berries for my mom’s infamous “blackcap” pie. There were 4 am mornings when my dad sleepily headed out to the barn, only to be fully awakened by the sights of the northern lights and within seconds by my bed to share the moment with me. (Because in the country, you can actually see the stars in all their glory.) Never did we lock our car doors and most times, you could find the keys in the ignition.
I lived within 15 minutes of both sets of grandparents and within an hour from most of my 100+ extended family. When we get together, which happens a lot, there’s enough food, beer and blackberry brandy for you and your uninvited, but very welcomed, friends to eat and drink. It’s a complete blast and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Home is where the heart is no doubt, and there, I had it made. Or at least that’s how I wanted to feel.
But I didn’t. For years I suppressed an unrest in my soul that was impossible to shake.
I call that intuition. The feeling you get when you know something isn’t right but you can’t really explain why.
You just know. When you are faced with a decision, you don’t know what to do. You want to say yes but you think you’re supposed to say no. When someone’s story doesn’t add up and even though there’s no proof they’re lying, you know they are. Intuition.
If you’re in tune with your intuition, it’ll not only reveal the truth but it will guide you to become what you’re meant to become. Everything you’re meant to become is already within you but somewhere along the way, from year 0-18 and maybe even after that, it was suppressed by the world, because when the world sees something different, it tries to fix it. To make you blend in. But we’re not meant to blend in, we’re born to stand out. However, it’s the fear of the unknown that traps your real self inside. The longer we ignore it, the deeper it hides.
That’s exactly what I was doing. It was round 3 of living at home and although I was grateful to be spending extra time with my parents, I was unhappy with my situation because something didn’t feel right. It felt like I was stuck in a world I didn’t create and in one I didn’t belong. It didn’t make sense to me to feel that way when I was surrounded by the people I loved the most and in my hometown. I would look to everyone else for guidance, ask for their thoughts on what I should do, and all I would hear is exactly that. What everyone else thought was best for me. I asked them because I didn’t trust myself. What if I mess up? What if I’m wrong, make a mistake, and have to come back and listen to everyone tell me, “I told you so.”
But they’re not me, and they’re not you either. And the only person that knows what’s best for you is you. Whether or not you currently believe that, it is true. A good Christian friend of mine told me this after I was stressing out about a decision a loved one had made, “Charli, you may think that’s best for him but you don’t know what God’s put on his heart. Maybe what’s best for him is a skill or talent he has yet to discover.” That was one of those #micdrop moments.
I realized this after doing what everyone else thought I should do all my life, and still feeling like something was missing. In a raw moment, for the first time, I tearfully admitted to someone how unhappy I was. To the point where I was really starting to question my existence. “I don’t get it. I don’t get the point of being here. I’m trying to live this perfect life but it doesn’t feel right. How is everyone so content with their lives? I want to do ___ but I feel like I should do the exact opposite!”
Thankfully she had the courage to be blunt, “Charli, for as long as I’ve known you, everything you do has been decided by someone else. You may have made the decision but it wasn’t your idea. Until you start doing things you want to do, to find out if you like doing them or not, you’re never going to find true happiness.” Silence. “This is the perfect time for you to watch this movie and then read this book.” I basically just stared at her nodding my head because I knew she was 100% right. (The movie is “The Shift” by Dr. Wayne Dyer and the book is “Mastery of Love” by Don Miguel Ruiz.
So, this is what I did. And this is what I’d encourage you to do if you find yourself in the shoes in which I was shyly living. I will tell you after having done this, I made a couple big life decisions and have had zero regrets in the past year of my life. I’m happier than I could have imagined and even though I’m #finerasa29er and single without kids, unlike most of my friends, I’m so content and excited for life.
I moved to Chicago! I left every comfort, friends, family, security… for this concrete jungle of Chicago. Where I had zero close friends, had never lived in a city of this size, and God-forbid I see a rat. Why would someone leave the peace and comfort of home, all of their tight-knit, strongly rooted family, their closest friends and a career in education for the unknown?
Because it felt right. And sometimes, yes, that’s enough of a reason to make a decision. And after that one, I made the next decision. I got a job. After 4 months I realized I didn’t love that job. I got a different job. I went to hipster bars. I learned I really didn’t love hipster bars. I don’t really think I love bars in general. I went out to new restaurants. I stopped working out consistently. My healthy self gained almost 10 lbs doing so. I started going to a few crossfit classes. I committed to a monthly membership at a Crossfit Box. I finally obeyed my intuition and cut an ambitious guy out of my life who I was hanging onto for what he could be, someday, but isn’t now. “But he’s so charming and ambitious, if only…” Yeah no. It’s that “If only” that is your intuition telling you to move on. I reached out to Case Kenny because I love this blog and wanted to meet like-minded people in Chicago, not even caring if he didn’t respond. (If you don’t ask, the answers always no.) But he did. We met up and he shared great insight and I’ve made a new friend.
You absolutely 100% do know what’s right. You know so deeply that it scares you. You question yourself because you’re not sure how this could be. You question yourself because you don’t know enough. You haven’t been around him long enough. You haven’t been in the job long enough. Whatever it is. But you do. You know. Something that you can’t describe is telling you what you should do. It’s the unknown, that scares you. “Why do I feel this way?!” Because you’re supposed to.
Now I’m not saying to quit your job because you are having a bad day or to break up with your significant other because they haven’t responded in a few hours. I’m saying get in tune to your intuition because you can’t just base every decision on how you feel unless you’re genuinely in tune to who you are.
Here’s how you get in tune with your intuition to start living a life that feels right. The life you’re meant to be living.
1. Pay attention to gut feeling and initial reactions.
When someone asks you to do something, what’s your first thought? How do you feel when you’re around certain people? Do you dread Monday mornings? Are you afraid to share your thoughts with certain people? Those “feelings” are trying to tell you something and guide you.
2. Act intuitively.
If you want to say no – do it. If you’re someone who says yes to everyone, make yourself say no 5 times in the next 48 hours to things you really don’t want to do. You only have so much time in your day and energy to spare. Also, if you say no to a favor, I bet they’ll get it done themselves and you won’t be enabling the lazy beast within them.
3. Make a list of things you love to do that speak to your human nature
Things that bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart. Take 20 minutes of your lunch break and go wild. The first 5 might be the hardest to come up with but then they just start rolling. Then, do more of those things.
4. Make a list of 10 people you LOVE being around and why, and a list of a few people you don’t like being around and why.
If they are in your close circle, trust your intuition and get new friends. Hell, you don’t even need to get new friends but just get rid of those ones. You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, so if you are with them a lot, you’re probably more like them than you even realize. So, go back to the first list of 10 people you love being around and get around them more often. They’re not near you? Find people like them and become their friend. They don’t have to be your age or your gender. One of my favorite people I’ve become friends with in Chicago is a 67 year old retiree who always has a smile on his face and ideas in his mind. I’m happy in his presence and am more excited for life after our brainstorming hangouts so why wouldn’t I spend time with him?
5. Define intuition in your life – make a decision and go with it.
If it ends up being the wrong decision, change your course. It’s ok to be wrong. I recently heard it described like a GPS. If you get off track, it automatically reroutes you. Life is like that too. If you make the wrong decision or the right decision at the wrong time, don’t sweat it. You will get back on track and in the process of finding your way back, you’ll be more prepared to handle the next detour. I moved to Minneapolis to teach 5th grade after college. Didn’t have a good reason why, just got the job and moved because a lot of my friends did it. Was never going to move back home. Within two years I learned it wasn’t where I was meant to be so I started back at square one. Home.
I haven’t done everything right but everything I’ve done has gotten me here. I’m genuinely as happy as my Instagram makes me seem. Do I want more out of life? Yes, but it’s coming. Does that mean I am free of bad days? HA! I have a lot of them. In the last 6 months all I’ve done is meet new people. Do I love it? It’s exhausting. It takes time to get to know people well enough to decide if they’re people I really want in my world. But it’s something I have to do if I want to have a solid group of friends here. There’s nothing comfortable about creating a life in a new area. I know the first year is absolutely a transition year. I’m growing and learning and it’s uncomfortable. However, I’m comfortable being uncomfortable because it’s in our discomfort that we grow the most.
Chapter by chapter I’m writing the book of Charli.
How do you know if you’ve done the right thing? How do you feel after you made the decision? What’s your gut telling you? PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR GUT. Your Intuition. Don’t diminish it. It’s right. Just trust it. When I made the decision to move to Chicago I felt completely at peace. And it’s by far been the best decision I’ve yet to make in my life.
When it comes down to it, if you don’t believe you deserve to be happy, for things to feel right, you’re wrong and you’re likely suppressing all of the things you’re mean to be feeling. Life doesn’t have to be OK. It is meant to be grand and you deserve to live it how you want to. Settling may get you what you think you should want in the moment but wouldn’t you rather wait for the best instead of spend your time wishing you had? #LiveFearlesslyInspired. Like me, its OK if your journey doesn’t lead you to where you started. Home is where the heart is but it may not be where you’re meant to do life, and that is more than OK.