When my journey down this road began, I was pretty content with where I was and not really searching for anything. I had gone down the road of a few heresies when I was an early teenager (I watched a lot of Arnold Murray on TV at that time).
It started with my Sunday School class (I was a freshman in high school at the time) doing a series on world religions. One segment was the Roman Catholic Church. I began researching that church so that I could have more info to help convert catholics (makes me both laugh and shudder thinking about that). Over the course of a couple years, my attitude toward them changed dramatically (I had no idea that the Orthodox Church existed at this point). It went from thinking they were pagans, to thinking they were christians but seriously confused, to thinking that they were solidly christian in their own right, to thinking that maybe they're on to something.
It was in this investigation that I discovered the early church: that they were liturgical, just as the apostles were; that they were heavily eucharistic and believed that it was Christ's body and blood; etc. But none of that really hit home with me (after all, anyone can be liturgical and believe in the transformation of the bread and wine without being Catholic). There was no sense of needing to connect historically to the early church for me yet.
But what got my attention was learning about the concept of apostolic succession. And if this were true - that the Apostles ordained leaders in the church, who in turn ordained leaders, etc, down through the ages to the current bishops - then that would mean that there is an "institution" around today that is THE continuation of the church that was started by Christ. And if those leaders were, ultimately, ordained through a succession going back to Christ Himself, then I HAD to be a part of that, whether or not I liked it or understood it.
For a long time I wanted to convert to the RCC, but was too afraid of my family's opinions... so I didn't. It wasn't until three years after I graduated high school that I started to give the RCC another look (this was the summer of 2004). I remembered why I wanted to convert in the first place, why I chose not to, and I decided that there's no reason why I shouldn't. So I talked to the local priest and began actively attending RCIA. I was in RCIA for about 9 months.
After several months of being in RCIA (I had been on some christian message boards for a couple years by that point), I began to learn the the Orthodox Church exists, and is more than just a smattering of Eastern European immigrants. I started asking some Orthodox folks some questions, reading some articles, etc. A couple things stuck out to me more so than others. If Peter started more churches than just the one at Rome, on what basis is the Roman Pope THE "successor of Peter"? The other one is that if the Creed was agreed upon by the whole Church, then on what basis can any one, single bishop change the Creed without the approval of the entire Church in council? For those reasons, and some others to a lesser degree, I began to think that the Orthodox might just be right about the schism.
I very hesitantly attended an Orthodox Liturgy for the first time in March of 2005 (I was a month or so from when I was schedule to be confirmed in the RCC). If knowing the history of the Orthodox Church left any doubt, that first Liturgy removed what was left of it. I never went to another Catholic Mass, and was chrismated into the Church in October of 2005.
But I don't think that my conversion to the Orthodox Church really began at that time. About a year later, due to various sins that I had gotten myself into, I felt that I had no choice but to leave the Church. Very soon after that time my spiritual life began to spiral downwards. I almost immediately began to have very intense demonic nightmares, and that lasted the entire time that I was away from the Church. I almost fell into complete atheism. I was very depressed almost the entire time, and my body, especially my stomach, suffered from it. And the whole time I was trying to convince myself that I had done the right thing, although I knew in my heart of hearts that Orthodoxy was where I needed to be.
Once circumstances changed, I emailed my old priest, who just so happened to be getting ready to make a trip out to where I was (about 1,000 miles from where his parish is to a diocese conference where I was). We met up, and he got me in touch with a priest in my area. This was just over 2 years ago, and I think that this is where my true conversion to the Orthodox Church began to start.
Until this point, my journey to the Orthodox Church was based on being institutionally correct, i.e., "these guys have preserved the correct doctrine, apostolic succession, and worship, so I need to be part of them." That's great and all. But what was I seeking? "Ancient worship"? "Consistent doctrine"? A "feeling of stability"? If I'm "institutionally correct", but nothing in my life is any different, then something is missing, no matter how "nice" the Liturgy feels. I talked to my priest about that (this was about a month after I came back to the Church), and he suggested something that no one had suggested to me before - read the lives of the Saints. He gave me one book to start off with, and I took it home and read it slowly over a few months.
THAT, I believe, is what truly struck a lasting nerve with me. These peoples' lives were completely and radically transformed, and it wasn't due to incense or their bishop's line of succession. And the things is, those people started off no better or worse than me. They found and took hold of something, and sacrificed everything in their lives until they could acquire it. My consideration of that fact sparked in my the thought that if they could do that, then, someday, it's possible for me to do that, too.
The thought of the possibility of that is why I remain Orthodox.