Where were you this time last year? How did you end up here? This week, we are launching a new series in which first-year students reflect on the path that brought them to The Seattle School. Check back every Thursday for a new story.

“If you don’t like the direction you are going, change it.”

I sat at my desk in the small marketing and design firm I was working for and felt my stomach drop. I was browsing the company’s Facebook page, and the “inspiring quote” above had been chosen to be broadcast across our social networks. I glanced around, worried that my coworkers in our brightly lit collective workspace could hear the thoughts that were blaring in my head: No! I don’t like the direction I’m headed!

Just a couple days before, I had found a packet from The Seattle School in my mailbox that contained the paperwork I needed to fill out in order to decline admission—for a second time. I had chosen my path the year before when I took my dream job at this trendy new design firm. I knew I was saying goodbye to my dream of The Seattle School by accepting the job offer, but at the last minute I checked “defer admission to next year” instead of “decline.”

That afternoon, as I sat at my desk, I was keenly aware that this new round of paperwork was due the next day. I had been avoiding it. Every time I picked it up to decline, I couldn’t quite bring myself to fill in the bubble. I had already told everyone at the school that I wasn’t coming; this was just a means of making it official.

The pit in my stomach grew as the afternoon drew on. I tried to focus on my work, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the quote. If you don’t like the direction you are going, change it. As soon as 5:00 hit, I rushed to my car, pulled out my phone, and proceeded to try to explain to my sister what was happening. “Am I crazy?! I have a great job! I love where I live!” It took her two hours to settle me down.

That evening, I stared at the familiar warm brick walls of the coffee shop I had been going to ever since it opened four years earlier, and I asked a good friend the same question. “Am I crazy?” He looked me in the eyes. “What’s holding you back?” Only myself.

I cried on the way to work the next morning. Owl City’s “Dreams Don’t Turn to Dust” played on my song rotation, and the tears flowed freely as Adam Young sang, “I’ll drag the anchor up and rest assured that dreams don’t turn to dust.” I need to do this. It’s time to move to Seattle. (Of course, the next song I listened to was “Hello Seattle”…because that felt appropriate.) I got to work, opened my email, and sent an apologetic note to Rachael Clinton, Admissions Counselor for Theology Programs: “You must think I’m the most wishy-washy person in the world. But. I’m coming.”

Things have felt somewhat whirlwind-ish ever since that email. I found out several months later that I would have lost my job anyway because of restructuring in the company, effective the same day that I had already put in as my last day. Blocks fit into place as I stepped forward into this new adventure. And now, as I write this, I’m looking out my apartment window at the tall buildings of downtown Seattle, still astonished that I get to call this place home.

It’s slowly starting to feel like home. Yesterday, my roommate and I put up magnets on the refrigerator and hung the Christmas cards that we got last month. It’s funny how the little things make all the difference, and that’s something I’ve noticed while at The Seattle School. The little things like walking past the bookstore and hearing “Hello Matthias!” from within, or grabbing coffee and a long walk with the dean—these things make leaving the home where my heart still finds itself more bearable. The warm brick walls in the Commons remind me of the brick walls of my coffee shop. As I sit on the black leather couches of this new environment, sipping my coffee and looking into the eyes of new friends, I find myself deeply grateful that I decided to change where I was headed.

Because now, I like the direction that I’m going.