It's funny how life works out. Working in the hospitality industry in Las Vegas, you're constantly engaging with new people. One of the most frequently asked questions from tourists, "Where are you from?" And, when I tell them I'm from small town "population 5000," they're surprised. The inevitable follow-up, "So, how did you end up in Vegas?" Right... how does one pick up their entire life and move to perhaps one of the most chaotic cities in the world? Yep, this certainly wasn't part of my plan.
It was 2010 and it's safe to say we were still in the midst of the financial crisis. I was awaiting acceptance to nursing school, which meant a two year waiting list. And, in the meantime, I worked for as a medical assistant at a small surgical practice where my hours were slowly being cut. Not for my own fault, but the business was dying. Medicaid wasn't paying their bills and neither were patients.
A serendipitous reunion via Facebook put me in touch with an old friend. As my life seemed to be unravelling, hers, on the other hand, seemed so glamorous! Pictures on Facebook depicted beach vacations, trendy clothes, and a new car! Where had I gone wrong? I inquired about her new ventures and learned that she had started a modeling career, and was offered a job in Las Vegas as a cocktail server (a common transition for models, believe it or not). In the coming months, we kept in touch. My friend moved to Las Vegas, and I continued to live my seemingly hopeless life.
Some time had passed, before I received a call. My friend, now working full-time as a cocktail waitress at one of the premier lounges in Las Vegas, had a proposal. "Come visit... I don't know anyone here. I have the weekend off, and you can stay with me." Hard to resist! I had never been to Las Vegas! So that Friday after work I jumped in my car and drove eight hours. Yep, eight hours... I want to say, the rest is history, but obviously there's more to the story. However, six months after that trip, I moved to Las Vegas.
Although Vegas was one of the most affected cities during the recession, there was plenty of opportunity to be had for an incoming frontline worker. Waitresses were making $500+ a night, which I don't know about you, but that was a lot of money to me. I worked in the nightlife industry for a few years, traveled the world, met amazing people, and created memories for a lifetime.
The transition from a small town to "the City of Entertainment" was a complete and utter culture shock, as you would expect. I adapted, however-as I always do. And, that's what I believe it takes to be successful. Had I not made the leap, how would my life be different? One will never know for sure. But, I can say with certainty I wouldn't be on the trajectory I am now. Being adaptable has been one of my biggest strengths. And, now every time asks me how I came to live in this crazy city, I smile, because it was one of my best decisions.