I moved for my dream job. Then I realized it wasn't worth it. – Business Insider

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with a former travel employee who quit their dream job. They spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their career, but Insider has verified their identity and former employment. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
In 2019, I got my dream job working in editorial at a name-brand travel company. It felt like a culmination of close to a decade of writing and editing experience. 
There was one catch, though, and it was big: I had to leave Portland, the city I had grown to love. It would ultimately become my downfall at that job.
Leaving Portland wasn’t easy — I had made ride-or-die friends there and had fallen in love with the city, my apartment, and my life. But when a dream job comes knocking, what are you going to do but answer?
I packed up and moved in the fall of 2019 and moved across the country to Tennessee. I lived in an high-rise apartment that was near work but in a neighborhood without much character. It was one of those complexes right next to the interstate, but I’ve always prized a short commute, and I thought I’d have time to explore the parts of the city on the weekends and after work. I felt like I’d made a serious trade-off in exchanging my dream city for my dream job, but I felt like it would be worth it.
But you know how this story goes — COVID-19 hit a few months after I made the move, and everything changed. Because I worked in editorial in the travel industry, things got complicated quickly. Readers felt like it was irresponsible of us to publish travel content, and it even upset them to read about traveling in a time when we were all stuck at home. I totally understood. 
My company tried to pivot to content that was appropriate to the seriousness of the pandemic. We were sent to work from home around the time most people were, March 2020, which was hard for me. 
I was living alone in a new city where I hadn’t had the time to build up my support networks or forge relationships with coworkers outside of work hours. I wasn’t even living in a real neighborhood, but a luxury complex by an access road to the interstate. It had this real Uncanny Valley vibe. 
It added to the surreal feeling of the pandemic, because I would walk around my complex and hardly see any other people. I was completely alone. My mental health was deteriorating, quickly. 
My parents saw how much I was struggling, and they helped me decide to ask my work if I could move home for the duration of the pandemic, with the expectation that I would return to the office when it reopened. My company was really open to that and encouraged all their employees to go wherever they needed to weather the pandemic.
I loved being at home. Not only did I get to spend time with my parents and nurse my mental health, but I saved money and got out of debt. I even got a role change at work during this time. It came with increased responsibility, which I hoped to use to leverage a raise once the industry bounced back from COVID-19. 
It wasn’t a guarantee, but what else was I going to do? I felt fortunate to even have a job.
A few months after I was promoted, my company was acquired, and everything changed. Not only was my new role dissolved, but the company culture changed radically. I saw clearly that it was no longer a good fit for me, but I’d given up my dream life in my dream city for this job.  When you look at everything you gave up to be there, it makes you want to hang on to make that investment worth it. 
But then one day, my parents found me crying after a meeting. They sat me down and told me I should quit. They’re not the kind of parents who tell their adult child to quit her job, and I was scared of becoming a millennial stereotype — unemployed and living at home — but my dad pointed out that I had the freedom to look for a new job with very few living expenses. 
I put in my notice without having anything else lined up. Now, I live in Denver and work for a cannabis company. I feel hopeful for the first time in a long time that things are moving forward for me, both personally and professionally.
When you live through two of the worst years of your life, you become deeply in touch with your priorities. People can only put up with so much. At our core, we want to feel seen and acknowledged and valued. A lot of people are realizing the bare minimum they’ve been subsisting on isn’t enough and what they’re asking for isn’t that much. 
I think two things can happen when you put people through the grinder: either they get really beaten down and the fight goes out of them, or they realize their value and they blossom. I’m blossoming.
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