Where I belong

Joe Troyen
3 years ago

18 months ago I left my home, my job, my friends, and my sense of belonging. I looked around at the amazing group of friends that gathered in my NYC apartment for my going away party and wondered...what the heck am I thinking? But it was too late - the job was quit, the apartment was subleased, the tickets were booked, and a few days later I was on a plane to Istanbul with my girlfriend. I had traded my comfortable life for something much more unpredictable. My 9-month journey through Asia was the experience of a lifetime. I hung out with brahmins, dove with sharks, ate scorpions, and grew my edtech company school by school, city by city, country by country. But with 2 months left in the trip I received disturbing news. My Co-Founder was leaving the company. And when I returned to the US, my life did not return to what it was. No paycheck, no girlfriend, no co-founder, no home. I went to Colorado for the winter. I skied hard. I worked harder. I had a blast - but I wasn't home. At the end of the ski season I went back to my childhood home in Vermont. I reconnected with my family and oldest friends. I swam in the lake I grew up on. I got my jump shot back. But I still wasn't home. Then I got the news that my company, PenPal Schools, had been selected for the Capital Factory incubator. I went for it. Within a week of arriving my network had exploded. The gravity of this place enabled me to find an amazing new CTO and a Head of Marketing - people who really share my passion and my vision - before I had even unpacked my suitcase. I've been here 4 weeks now, and not a day has passed where I haven't met someone to advise, connect, or inspire me. I've been to a half dozen rock concerts, visited some beautiful swimming holes, and met some truly strange people. And yesterday - for the first time in 18 months - I finally unpacked my suitcase. This is it. I'm home. And after all this time wondering where I was going to end up, it feels pretty great to know that I'm exactly where I belong.


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