6 Lessons You Learn From Moving to a New City Alone
In June of 2016, I decided to leave everything I knew in Charlotte, NC to move to Washington, DC...all by myself. Here's what my experience taught me:
1. It gets easier – Oh trust me, it gets easier. The first month I don’t think I can even count on my hands the number of times I cried. You’re going to feel like you made a mistake and that’s normal, take it one day at a time. Here’s what not to do: do not keep cooped up in your apartment like I did for the first month. Isolating yourself is lonely and it becomes harder and harder to get out there and meet people the longer you wait. Put your big girl pants on, get out of the house, go explore, find a coffee shop to sit at to pass time, and actually make human contact. Once I started doing this, it got so much easier. Which leads me to the next lesson...
2. Love your company – I don’t know why being alone has such a negative, sad connotation. I think it says a lot about someone who isn’t afraid to go do things by themselves. Chances are, it’s not the fact that this person has no friends, but the fact that they are content and comfortable being in their own presence. Take my mom for example - she loves going to see movies by herself. I never used to understand why she did this and I always felt bad that she had to go alone. But now, I get it. It’s not that my mom had no one to go with, it’s just that she truly enjoys her own company and if she wants to go do something, she does it.
Since moving to a new city alone, I got to learn about myself and the things I actually enjoy doing. I no longer felt forced to do things I didn’t want to do, like go to a bar at 1 pm and drink all day long. That alone time pushed me to start reflecting on the things that make me happy and in turn, I realized what my hobbies were. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than waking up early on a Saturday, getting in a workout, grabbing coffee at a local coffee shop, and then just relaxing or going on a walk.
If you hate being alone, you probably haven’t learned to love or even like yourself yet. And that’s okay, it takes time to learn to love and accept yourself. Try spending a little more time alone – you might actually learn something about yourself that you didn’t know before!
3. Stop caring about what other people think – This is directly correlated with the lesson of learning to love your company and counts for both strangers and even friends. Because, who cares if you’re sitting in the coffee shop alone? Who cares if you don’t go to the bar and stay out until 3 am? I used to. But, when I learned to love myself and took time to figure out the things that I truly enjoyed doing, I learned to stop caring. Why? Because the people who are your true friends don’t care and the people who do care, probably aren’t your true friends. Again, when you learn to love yourself, you learn that your time IS so valuable. There's no point in wasting your precious time on people who don’t deserve it and doing things that you don’t want to do. Filter out the negative people in your life and you’ll find more free time, a positive mindset, and overall will be happier.
4. It’s okay to make new friends – When I first moved, I didn’t want to make any new friends. Partly because I knew this wasn’t my permanent home but also because I already had my friends. Well, that was a silly way of thinking. Even though I have my best friends from college and from high school, there’s nothing wrong with making new friends.
Maybe you’re more worried about if and how you are going to make new friends? Refer back to lessons 1 and 2 – when you start getting out of the house and doing things you enjoy you will find like-minded people who, in turn, become your friends. Fitness and working out is obviously something that I love. When I first moved I was running and working out in my apartment gym alone every single day. It wasn’t for a couple of months in that I finally decided to join a group-fitness studio in the area which changed my life and provided me like-minded friends who I am forever grateful for.
Step out of your comfort zone and talk to the people you see at regular workout classes or at coffee shops/places you frequent. Even if its just a few words here and there, something is better than nothing. Just the fact that you are at the same gym or coffee shop already means you have one thing in common!
5. You are brave AF – Let’s face it, it takes a lot of courage to pick everything up from your comfortable life and move away to a completely new, unknown city. I never used to consider myself as “brave,” until now. There were a lot of times I wanted to just sit in my room and cry but that feeling didn’t last very long because I would remind myself of how brave I was. There are a whole lot of people who wouldn't dare to leave their comfort zone like you have, remember that.
6. Taking chances is cool – A life without taking chances doesn’t seem like a very fulfilling life to me. You have to take chances in life. You might fail, you might succeed but there’s one thing that remains the same when you take a chance – you learn. I was really torn when I was presented with the opportunity to move to a new city for a year. I was afraid to leave my comfortable life, my boyfriend, and more importantly I was afraid of failure. Fear often stops us from taking chances, and I’ll admit I was extremely fearful. But, I decided I had to take the chance and after all what was the worst that could happen?
Even though I’m moving back to Charlotte next month, I wouldn’t mark this experience as a failure. If anything, it was a success because I learned some extremely important life lessons and more importantly, I learned about myself. When I look back at it now, I wouldn’t change a single thing. Hopefully my experience can help you too!