As much as I hate to admit – I just hit my TEN year anniversary of my high school graduation. Yes, gasp!
I have been reflecting on the evolution of myself in those ten years and who I have become today. Looking back seeing myself as the young high schooler with the world in front of her – you go from feeling on top of the world – to feeling as scared and insignificant as you felt upon entering high school as a freshmen.
My path post graduation, took me out of my small town to central New York for college and then to Los Angeles with only a few dollars to my name and a dream to chase. For the twenty-somethings that have taken that dreaded but beautiful step out of their hometowns into the great unknown – here’s what I’ve learned…
1. It Costs Money To Do Cool Shit
Moving is expensive. Scratch that – life is expensive. While taking your first leap out of your hometown you really only concentrate on one thing – not falling flat on your face. But then you get to your new town/city and realize – shit is going to add up and put a big hole in your wallet – the biggest one being: rent. Who knew that having dreams of a big city meant that you were to live in a shoebox for thousands of dollars. Your idea of finally being an “adult” and having “nice things” gets knocked down a peg or two and you realize that you’ll settle with Ikea furniture and Target clothes if that means you can still put food on the table for yourself and resign yourself to the fact that you will have “nice things” when you hit your thirties.
2. Your Sense of Direction Becomes Heightened
The second you leave the little bubble in your hometown, suddenly, your sense of direction goes out all out of whack. Everything looks bigger than usual, the highways are confusing, all the streets start to look the same – cue massive panic. Arriving in a big city you are completely forced to learn the lay of the land immediately. Your iPhone will only get you so far and learning the subway rails and streets will make you feel like you’re a local. And soon, your hometown streets will suddenly become unfamiliar territory.
3. No One Knows You
The beautiful thing about moving away is a fresh start. Your history and baggage does not follow you. No one knows if you were the prom queen or the town stoner and the best part is – no one really cares. Who cares who you once were – it’s about who you are now. And eventually you will get to the point where you can take a look at who you were in your hometown/old life and completely shed it off like dead skin. You let go of your past life and turn the page to be exactly who you want to be without giving a fuck.
4. FOMO Isn’t Real
Fear of missing out is all in your head, straight up. By now, everyone you went to high school/college with has decided to go on their own path – whatever that may be. Your group of girlfriends are not having sleepovers on Friday nights like you did when you were 18. Regardless if you are still tight or drifting away from friends, no one is getting together like you were when you were younger – no one has time like that. Sure, there will be random occasions that your friends all get together for dinner and you’ll see it on Insta and want to die that you are missing out but if they are your real friends they won’t make you feel like you are the missing link. They’ll still do their best to still include you in gossip and special events no matter what your zip code is.
5. Keeping in Touch Isn’t For Everyone
Moving away will force you to see who your real friends are. It’s a sad story that distance sometimes does not make the heart grow fonder. As we get older, life gets more complicated and messy – people get married, have babies, get major promotions and time slips further away from us. People get more selfish, more self absorbed, and give less fucks about what’s happening outside their net – it’s not intentional it’s just the way things go – things that you once had in common no longer remain. But the gems that are left standing long after your move – those are forever friends.
6. You Will Always Need Your Family
You will kick yourself that there was ever a time that your family EMBARRASSED you. Now, you miss being a part of their craziness and countdown the days till you can see your family again. You call your parents and siblings on the regular – and on the days you are homesick, they are the best reminders that being away is exactly what you need to do for yourself right now. On the other hand, being away from your biological family – forces you to make your own family in your new home. The friends you make in your new town suddenly become your family and biggest cheerleaders and above all, the people you turn to most when shit goes upside down.
7. New People – New Views
Arriving in a new place you will meet people from all walks of life. People will not always see things like you do and you may not always understand where they are coming from but hearing different perspectives and learning people’s stories of how they got where they are will help you grow into a more mature, well rounded human…and who doesn’t want that?!
8. Expectations Do Not Equal Reality
Life is going to knock you down regardless of where you live. It’s not going to be a smooth ride by any means. It’s hard to let go of your expectations that with a little work you will get your dream job, car, apartment, and significant other. The dream that you have for yourself will shatter and change and evolve and every time you will learn a wonderful lesson – you can stand on your own two feet. You’ll see the lack of importance to posting your life on social media, because you are doing you and that may mean taking a lower paying job that feeds your passion over settling for a job with the big pay out. You learn to do what feeds your soul and no one else’s.
9. Making Friends Goes Back to Grade School
HOW DOES AN ADULT MAKE FRIENDS?!?! A new city is full of freaks and weirdos and finding someone that you actually vibe with are few and far between. Sure, some co-workers are able to be your friend outside of the workplace but that is not always the case. Just make sure when you think you have found a friend that they aren’t the quintessential twenty-something of being a fake and a flake.
10. Don’t Look Back – Comfort Zones Are Made to be Broken
Moving requires an immense leap of faith and courage – it’s not for the weak. You are constantly filled with fear and doubt that impending failure will be knocking at your door before you know it. Your head spirals with thoughts and it’s hard to concentrate on the reason why and what this means to you in the first place. Life does not have a rearview mirror for a reason – there really is no reason to look back. Stick to your guns and stay the path. Comfort zones are made to fence you in – it’s safe and familiar and we’d rather stick with what we know than try something new – it’s how were made, change is weird and horrible – but we’re young and wild now for a reason – and crossing lines and ignoring the boundaries we imagine for ourself is what keeps life interesting.