Six months ago I did something truly terrifying. I picked up the well-curated life I had established in Chicago, packed up my car, and took off for Maine. I didn’t know anyone here, I barely had a job lined up, and I had no idea where I was going to live. Now that I’ve been here for six months things have calmed down, and I’ve settled into a new routine. I have a job, an apartment (thank god), and an ever-growing Maine bucket list. There have been many highs and lows so far, but I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself, and what it takes to successfully move far away from home.
Here are 6 things I learned in my first 6 months of living away:
- Homesickness is an ever-present thing. It never really goes away. Some days are better than others, but the feeling is always there. Whether it’s a day that you feel like the universe is against you, or just wish a loved one was there to share an experience with you – you’re always going to miss your people back home.
- I can still be the old me while embracing the new me. When I first moved to Maine I did everything I could to put myself out there. I joined Meetup groups I would never join otherwise—happy hour beer club, really? But I did all that to avoid becoming the hermit I naturally am. Eventually I did find a balance which leads me to my next point…
- Get involved in things you’re actually interested in. It’s important to put yourself out there and try new things, but if you actually like the class/event/activity then your odds of sticking with it are much higher. After my fatal attempt at being a person who does “happy hour beer clubs,” I signed up for better things like volunteering at the animal shelter and taking an oil painting class.
- Making friends can be as easy or as hard as you make it out to be. If you overthink it, it won’t work. If you’re at an event you hate, it won’t work either. The best way to make friends in a new city is to engage in activities you actually like. If you like the activity you’ll be more comfortable—more you, and that will attract other people who are doing the same thing. However also realize that it’s not going to happen overnight…
- Be comfortable with being alone. No matter how many Meetup events, friend dates, town functions there are you’re still going to have solo nights. This may not have bothered you back home. In fact a night in (no matter how many) may have given you a sigh of relief. Thank god I don’t have to go out tonight! But it’s a totally different thing when you move away and don’t even have the option of having to go to a family function, or a friend’s party. Once you move to a new city you’re going to be alone a lot, and the sooner you accept that and learn to embrace it the better.
- Embrace whatever you’re feeling. My first couple of months in Maine I told myself that I couldn’t have a sad/homesickness day because, after all, I chose this. Somehow I believed that having a sad day meant that I had admitted defeat when really it’s all just part of the process. I learned that moving to a new city is hard! You’re going to have those moments where you look around and say to yourself, “What have I done?” Embrace it. The sooner you deal with your emotions the sooner you can get out and explore your new city. After all, wasn’t that the point of moving anyway?