Final Score: Chicago 1, Curtis 0

People say the long, bitter Chicago winters build character. They also say dealing with adversity builds character. Well something is being built alright, but whatever it is certainly is in danger of toppling to the ground.


My time in this city is coming to an end; everything has happened so quickly. I never seriously thought I would be leaving this soon. A roller coaster from start to finish, this experience has exposed a breaking point I never knew existed.

In the midst of this whirlwind period, I managed to get my master’s degree. I wasn’t running on fumes, though – I was running on fumes of fumes. Barely able to sleep. Barely able to wake up. Barely able to do anything in between. I was operating at such a low level that I was more dead than alive. I was so burnt out from studying for the CFA and working hard at my internship, that I could barely handle my very challenging projects and final exams. In this last semester / quarter, I got a B and a C+, which in grad school are the loose equivalents of a C+ and a D+. I was broken. I had nothing. There was so much going on and I couldn’t wrap my head around it all.

As the lease expiration date on my apartment quickly approached, I was forced to actually think about my plan past the CFA exam. I just wanted things to stay simple so I could study and focus on doing something productive in my life, but I was faced with a dizzying amount of problems, situations, and deadlines. I brought much of this upon myself, and I didn’t handle this period well. Still, it left me in pieces.

I considered staying in my current place, then I looked at apartments in the city, then I looked for places in the suburbs. The next week, I found myself thinking about staying at home for a while. Days later, the idea of staying in Florida became more of a reality, especially after a surprise phone call from my sister. Within weeks, I knew going to Tampa was the most logical decision. I can’t afford to stay in this expensive city without a real job, and no jobs have come my way. I need a break from my mind. Peace. A situation where I’m not spending much money. Family support. An indefinite change of scenery. A haven from this hell. At 25, I need to take more responsibility with my life, and this is the responsible thing to do.

The doctor started me on Strattera, a drug to help both ADHD and anxiety. It stays in the system 24 hours, so it shouldn’t have the ridiculous peaks and valleys that come with Adderall. However, it takes months to actually start working. When I moved to Chicago, I had really started taking the gluten-free thing seriously, and I had just started Adderall and stopped a bunch of other drugs. All of that took time to start working. It’s funny how I move during these adjustment periods. They seem to provide an amplified sense of closure: I moved to this city, I found an apartment, I started school, I dated and loved a girl, I adjusted to a drug, and I began a life here. Now, I am moving from this city, I am leaving the apartment, I finished school, the girl is gone from my life in the most extreme and sad way, I quit the medicine, and I’m giving up all the momentum I started here. Did this city even exist? Does it even acknowledge my existence? Will there be any mention of me in the record books? I don’t know if I like this closure, but none of my hardest efforts have been rewarded while I’ve been here. As weird as it feels, it’s time for a(nother) change.

I guess a year is my attention span for a city. I’m looking forward to being around my sister and nephew and grandparents in Florida. I wish I could say I was going there under better circumstances, with a set plan in life and a job in the area or something like that, but this is the best I can do. I have no clue how long I will stay. I’m not signing a lease. I’m not buying new things. I’m only taking the bare minimum with me. I’m not tying myself down in any more ways than necessary. It’s a commitment-detester’s dream. Until I figure out what I’m doing with my life, this is the smartest route.

I have dealt with adversity ineffectively; time will tell if I become a better person because of it. Until then, it’s simply adversity, and it sucks. In two weeks, my work here will be done. Hopefully I can take my experiences and knowledge with me and thrive in a completely new environment. Here’s to new beginnings and sad endings. Chicago, you won. You beat me senseless. I’ll learn from this. I’m not going to let my surroundings beat me again.





Edit: At this very moment, I am supposed to be in Cancun with some of my best friends, but I’m not. I canceled on short notice. I was looking forward to that trip so much, but it just didn’t feel right when I had to move out and take the CFA in two weeks. When I’m this stressed in life I usually drop out of every possible obligation (luckily, I managed to not drop out of grad school for a second time). I don’t feel as bad about canceling as I thought I would, though. I’m taking the most important test I’ve ever had to take, and getting my moving situation dealt with is a big deal. I’d rather have my guy friends complaining about how stupid I am for not going than about how an otherwise smart person keeps avoiding the real world and not doing anything with his life, which has been the more frequent topic covered when I’m mentioned. I need to take a bunch of deep breaths and get through this last two weeks alive, and only then will I feel up for a vacation.