I couldn’t wait to get out of New Hampshire when it came time to apply to colleges in 2008. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t because I wanted to escape the fun-loving, kind and supportive family that I am so lucky to have, it was because I simply needed a change of scenery. The independent, free-spirited me needed to find a place where no one knew me. That desire led me to making sure none of my applications were sent to anywhere in the state of New Hampshire and with that I ended up in Providence, RI at Johnson & Wales University. I went to study Graphic Design & New Media Arts, experience a small city that was booming with diversity (JWU alone has students representing 87 countries), and play D3 soccer. The campus is located in the heart of downtown Providence, which made for quite an unconventional college experience. I had never been fortunate enough to travel unless it was to a soccer tournament or a family vacation, which may be an explanation for my stir-crazy nature, if there ever need to be one.
In 2011, I held a month-long internship in Los Angeles at Paramount Pictures designing for a Nickelodeon TV Show. My experience reminded me that you could take the girl out of New Hampshire, but you couldn’t take New Hampshire out of the girl. It was an eye-opening adventure that further encouraged where I wanted to go come graduation time, when in actuality I had zero idea where that was. I graduated from college early, and couldn’t quite find a job, so what did I do? I followed my college boyfriend to Cleveland, Ohio. I knew absolutely no one and for the life of me couldn’t land a job in my field so I worked at the Marshalls in Avon Lake where I spent every minimum wage paycheck I made. I would buy clothes to fill the emptiness of what I thought that 4.0 GPA from college would have gotten me (don’t worry, eventually it did). The girl who decided to impulsively move to Ohio (yours truly) just to avoid returning to New Hampshire at all costs was now broke, bored, and homesick. A short 8 months into my Buckeye state adventure, I realized more than just my job was not going to work out. I was never going to become an Ohioan at this rate, so I decided to send about 100 resumes back to Massachusetts using my parent’s home address in Merrimack. Two interviews later and in no time at all my 1997 Toyota Tundra truck was packed and ready for the 12-hour trip back to the East Coast.
For the next five years I ended up bouncing between apartments from Quincy to Dorchester before landing in a quaint Southie studio where my stint in Massachusetts would eventually come to an end. In those 5-6 years, I had held 3 different jobs, ran the 2016 Boston Marathon, made lifelong friends, and formed professional connections I will take wherever I go. You could say I made the most of my time there but I still couldn’t figure out what was missing. As the city nights and cost of living took its toll, I realized I was spending most of my free time hightailing it to South Station to hop a bus back to New Hampshire. I would leave South Boston almost every weekend to hike the mountains of New Hampshire with my sister, take trail walks with my mom, or simply go on long runs on the back roads I knew like the back of my hand. The girl who put all of her energy into evading the Granite State was now purchasing weekly bus tickets to feel the stress leave her body when she saw that “Live Free or Die” sign on Interstate 95.
I didn’t want to “move home” as if I was somehow failing, even though it ended up being just the opposite. To make the transition, I took a misleading position in a very negative place and I had thought I just made the biggest mistake of my life – my previous 2+ hour commute to Boston was looking pretty good again. However, while my professional career wasn’t quite moving in the direction I thought it would, I had joined sports leagues, met my now boyfriend and really started to explore a state I had never appreciated growing up. We take frequent trips up North to drive the Kancamagus Highway on Saturday afternoons. We spend weekends skiing and snowboarding Brettonwoods and Waterville Valley just to name a couple. I’ve hiked trails I didn’t know existed and seen views that take my breath away, all in a state that I had at my finger tips for the first 17 years of my life.
Fast forward to today, as I sit here writing from my cozy corner in Manchester, NH – YES, I said NEW HAMPSHIRE. The sofa I perch on is in a little home already strung with Christmas lights that I share with my wonderful boyfriend. It’s also conveniently located 7 minutes from my office at Wire Belt Company of America. It took longer than I imagined it would, but I had finally landed in a place in my career where I truly felt appreciated, needed, supported, and most of all happy. The culture at Wire Belt is one that simply is best described as family. I had spent the previous 8 months feeling the anxiety creep in on Sunday nights, dreading Monday while praying for Friday to come quicker. Today I wake up with a sense of purpose, an improved quality of life, and a passion for what I do as a Marketing Specialist at Wire Belt.
Five years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea that I’d be here working for one of the best companies in NH, playing soccer on week nights, taking pottery lessons in downtown Manchester, watching football on Sundays with my family, and making sure to get up North to see the leaves change come Fall. With my story, I’ll leave you with a saying that has never wrung truer than it does today:
“Happiness often sneaks in through a door you did not know was open.”
Caitlyn was born and raised in Merrimack and left to attend college and play soccer for Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Graphic Design & New Media Arts degree. She’s used her creative design skills and love for people and event planning to break into the Marketing world and has been there ever since. She has a love for strong coffee, crocheting, animals, running, and snowboarding on weekends with her boyfriend. Between planning, attending and coordinating tradeshows and events, she loves playing in her various soccer leagues during the week.