A tale of two cities: How to balance the old with the new

Now that I’ve been in Maine for a little while now, I have to say that I love it. I love the winding streets, the call of the seagulls, the rocky coast, and the slower way of life. Sometimes it feels like I’ve gone back in time to a simpler way of life, or as Mainers like to call it, “the way life should be.” I love being in Maine, but I’ve noticed that I’ve had a hard time shedding my Chicago skin. For me Chicago is where I grew up, where my family is, where I became the person I am today. My roots are in Chicago and I’m not one of those people who wants to forget where they came from. Can’t there be a balance?

Balance

Sometimes we hold on too tightly to the things we’re afraid to lose. The friend who wants their space, the mother who never wanted to be a mother, or something that is such a core part of our being that we’re afraid of letting it go in fear of what we are without it. The truth is these experiences are what make us who we are, not the things themselves. What you learned and your ability to come out the other side is what makes you who you are. For me I was afraid of embracing Maine because it meant letting go of Chicago when actually there are ways to balance your new city with your old one without losing your sense of self.

Here are my tried-and-true methods of practicing balance:

  • I stay connected to my people back home. I have a pretty consistent phone schedule with my friends and family back in Chicago which helps me stay connected to them and the goings-on there.
  • Some things have to change for the sake of convenience. I’m currently in the process of changing over my Driver’s license and my vehicle registration to my new Maine address. Though I like driving around with my Illinois plates and seeing the confused look on a waiter’s face when he cards me, I have to admit that it’s just easier having all of my stuff registered to the same place.
  • Explore somewhere you couldn’t find “at home.” This is a big one for me. Whenever I’m missing Chicago I go explore an area I couldn’t get at home such as a lighthouse, a rocky beach, a mountain, etc. Going on these little adventures centers me and reminds me why I decided to move here.

Portland Head Light

  • Don’t let others tell you how you’re supposed to feel. It’s a process embracing a new city. It’s hard, amazing, frustrating, and incredible. Embrace whatever you’re feeling, because it’s a learning experience all the same.
  • Pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you. Are you really that homesick or are you just scared of embracing something new? Of course you miss your family and friends back home, but does that really overpower the greatness you’ve discovered in your new city?
  • Do what makes you happy. I’m a firm believer in enjoying the life you live. Yes, you probably need to have a boring day job in order to have a roof over your head and food in your frig, but overall are you happy with the life you’re living?

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4 Comments

  1. Such a lovely post, Steph! It seems like you are really starting to explore and reflect a bit on your big shift.

    I really identify with the need to set aside time to connect with friends and family back home. ON Sundays, I have had a long stand tea-Skype date with a friend who lives on the other side of the state, Making this a given in my weekly schedule both gives me something to look forward to, as well as keep the friendship strong even though we are in different parts of Washington state.

    I just love knowing you are bravely taking on this new Maine adventure! 😀

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