Despite being thrilled to embark on a new adventure to Seattle, I was vastly unprepared for the leap I was about to make. Contrary to popular belief, moving to a new city isn't always easy and fun and exciting. Sometimes, it's really tough. Here are a few things I learned from my big move to Seattle last year.
1. You're going to be alone. A lot. You'll also learn to be okay with it. When I left Virginia Beach, I went from living with my boyfriend to living with a friend. Despite still having someone there to support and encourage me, it was a difficult transition. My roommate had class everyday, and I worked from home. That gave me a lot of time alone, and it was often more than I was comfortable with. Over time, I adjusted to this newfound solitude. I even learned to appreciate it.
2. Exploring your new town is one of the best ways you can spend your time. Not having my car in Seattle was challenging because I wasn't able to drive around and explore the city myself. Fortunately, my roommate had a car, and we constantly went on adventures together. From farmer's markets to new restaurants and hiking trails, I got to know Seattle little by little over time. It's so important to get outside and learn the streets of your new city. Ultimately, that will make it feel like home.
3. Meeting people can be tough, depending on your work/living situation. Since I work from home, meeting people in Seattle felt impossible. As an introvert and someone who doesn't like large crowds, I found myself shying away from public places where I could potentially meet friends. If I could go back in time, I would've mentally prepared myself for this obstacle. Meetup.com is also a great website to find groups of people who have the same interests as you.
4. You WILL have at least one mental breakdown. I don't remember my first breakdown, but I know several happened during my first month in Washington. Various things fueled these breakdowns - missing my boyfriend, missing my family, missing the comfort and familiarity of my hometown, feeling stranded without my car, and wondering if moving was the right decision. You're practically guaranteed to question everything at least once. Everybody goes through it, so don't beat yourself up when it happens.
5. You're a lot stronger than you think. Remind yourself daily of your courage and bravery. When the previously mentioned mental breakdown happens, remind yourself how awesome you are. You moved to a brand new city! Sure, it's not an easy feat, but you were brave enough to pack your bags and take the leap. Don't forget about your strength. Don't forget about your courage. Give yourself a pat on the back.
6. Friendships will inevitably change with distance. When you move to a new city, especially one that can only be visited by plane, friendships will change. Sadly, some friends will fall off the radar. Several of my friends never reached out to see how I was doing in Seattle. On the bright side, however, several friends texted/called me regularly and made an effort to stay involved in my life. Try your hardest to stay in touch with people close to you. Even if you have to put a reminder in your phone or write it in your planner, reach out weekly to stay connected.
7. There will be days when you compare the new to the old. It's easy to fall into the habit of comparison. I was guilty of this in Seattle. "Wow, it really DOES rain a lot here...it was always sunny back in Virginia Beach!" This kind of attitude can make it really hard to appreciate where you are. Instead of comparing your new city to your last living situation, appreciate the new surroundings that are available to you. For instance, Seattle had amazing mountain views that Virginia Beach lacks.
8. It might take longer to adjust than you anticipated. I was under the impression that it would only take a couple of days to adjust to the move. Boy, was I wrong. It took me a solid month to feel comfortable in Seattle, and even then, the city still felt foreign to me. I've heard that a full adjustment can take the better part of a year. While I only lived in Seattle for about four months, I can really vouch for this saying because it took me around eight months for my college town (Harrisonburg, VA) to feel like home. During that first eight months, I desperately wanted to run back to the comfort of my hometown. But after I got through that tough period, I couldn't imagine living anywhere else.
9. Your hobbies will keep you sane. To make the transition smoother, make sure you devote some of your time each day to a favorite hobby. For me, that was photography. When I started feeling down in the dumps, my roommate and I would grab our cameras and scout out a new place in Seattle to explore. In the picture above, we're in Gas Works Park! This really helped me stay grounded. If you love yoga, find a new studio. If you love painting, set up a paining station in your living room. Whatever it is you love: do it.