“My favorite part of traveling is being thrown into a new environment where you don’t know anyone, can barely speak the language, and you have to navigate through it all,” my coworker exclaimed.
“Yes, exactly!” I chimed in.
“That’s kind of what you did, didn’t you? You moved to a new city where you don’t know a soul, and you took on a new job where you are learning a brand new process. You’re kind of permanently traveling,” He said.
Those words resonated deeply at that moment. I never though of my move in those terms. I grew up in one town for 32 years and uprooted everything I had and moved away from everyone I knew for a job. The exact things that I love about traveling were the day-to-day things I was now experiencing. It was thrilling, exciting and terrifying. I was loving every minute of it!
As with traveling, my move brought some struggles and a ton of personal growth. Changing from a comfort zone you’ve known for over 30 years to a complete unknown leaves one relearning how to navigate daily life. Turns out things that came easier as a child can be much harder as an adult.
It’s really hard to meet friends as an adult.
How do you meet friends growing up? In school, right? So what happens when you move to a new town and you aren’t in school anymore. Sometimes you can make long lasting friendships with your coworkers. In my case, I was considered part of the new generation coming in surrounded by those on their way to retirement. Out of 500 employees, only two others were in my age group. So how do you meet friends? You have to put yourself out there. Kind of intimidating as an adult. Especially if you are more on the introvert side of things like I am. I started with Meetup.com. If you haven’t heard of the website before, it’s a place where groups with common interests can meet. I joined a hiking group, a group of girls in their 30’s, and a book club group. I also found the Young Professionals Networking Group. They are in most major cities as well and include professionals from late 20’s to late 30’s. So how does it work? You show up. You introduce yourself. You see if you click with anyone, and then you have to follow up. Not going to lie, it’s really weird. As an adult you meet someone and sort of think “Hey I like you. I want to be friends,” and then you make an effort to be friends with this person. The good part is they are doing the same thing too, so at least you’re in it together!
You put extra miles on your car and get lost.
When you move to a place you’ve never been before, you spend a lot of time exploring. All the sudden driving an hour either direction to check out a new town or fun hot-spot doesn’t seem so long. It’s all new and exciting and you want to experience it. You also get lost a lot. Even with GPS. There are many times I’ve thought I knew where I was going and ended up having to backtrack a bit. Not knowing the area like the back of your hand can be challenging, but also a lot of fun!
You spend a lot of time alone.
Like a lot, a lot. Back home I always had a ton of options. I always knew what my friends were up to, what events were taking place, and could pick up the phone at any moment and find someone to hang out with. When you move to a town and don’t know anyone, things shift a bit. There are some nights where it’s a little lonely. You spend a lot of time in you own head. Over time things begin to shift and as you meet people your life starts to take shape in this new place you call home. Now don’t get me wrong. I will always get a sense of home when I go back to where I grew up to visit family and friends. But I will never forget when the shift happened and I finally started to see this city as my home. I found a sense of belonging and now I can’t imagine ever leaving.
The amount of personal growth you gain is indescribable.
Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone, being thrown into the unfamiliar, and trying to convince other people that you are a cool person to hang out with is one hell of a whirlwind. I promise you in the end, you will gain so much from the experience. You learn about yourself. You learn what you want in a friend, what you don’t want, and what kind of friend you want to be. You learn that you can survive and find your way in a new place without help from family and friends. In a way you really find your voice. You find your perspective and you shape your life. It’s one of the best experiences I’ve had to date and I would not change it for the world. All the scary or uneasy parts in the beginning, only paved the way to the pure happiness I enjoy now. That right there, makes it all worth it.
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