Yesterday, a memory came up on my social media. It was a picture of me three years ago, saying farewell to the city I have and always will love; Washington, DC. With the help of some friends, I packed my apartment into a U-Haul and drove the 400 miles back to NY all by myself. Reflecting on that drive and the end to that journey, got me thinking about what an impact moving to different cities has had on my life.
I have always been a homebody. I liked being home with my family, wasn't a huge fan of sleepovers, and chose to go to college close to home. I didn't think I could be more than 30 minutes from my best friends and biggest supporters. I was always afraid that if I was away, I'd miss something or wouldn't be able to get back in time if something went wrong. I unfortunately lived my younger years with a lot of what-ifs, and trust me, still do.
I am grateful that I spent as many years as I did back home because I got to strengthen my relationship with my parents and sisters even more. During my first year at Syracuse, I went home quite a bit because I missed them. As the years went on, I made new friends, got more involved on campus, and found myself going home less and less. I began to realize that my family would still be there no matter what I did or where I went. I did not have to physically be in their presence to know that they were thinking of me and that they loved me.
During my junior year of college, I was blessed to go on an Alternative Spring Break trip to Washington, DC, to help the homeless. I had been to DC in ninth grade for a chorus trip and being back reminded me how much I absolutely loved the city. So much history, culture, beauty, business and opportunity. That trip made me realize that even though I loved where I was in life, it was comfortable, familiar. I knew that I needed to take a step outside of my comfort zone and try something completely new. That realization prompted my application to grad school in DC and subsequent move.
Moving, in general, is a big step. It involves planning, physical labor, money, and lots of big decisions. I have moved to a new apartment 12 times in the past 9 years, and with that, have moved to 4 different cities for some period of time. Just thinking of how many boxes I've packed, lifted and physically moved, gives me anxiety. My parents were always my movers and I am sure they are glad I found new people to help the past two years!
My first move, as mentioned, was to D.C, for grad school. I decided to live in Arlington my first year to get a run of the mill. I had never lived in a big city with so much activity and so many people! Yes, Syracuse is a city, but nothing like this. I had to learn to navigate the Metro, to find the closest grocery store, to figure out what all of the lettered and numbered streets meant, to figure out how to get healthcare in a new territory. Most importantly, I had to figure out what the heck Uber was, and how to not waste all of my money on it. Thankfully I had friends from Syracuse there and since I was in school, had more friends! The most difficult part of that year was not being at home for the birth of my niece. I'll never forget getting the call that she was born and just sitting there crying, knowing that I missed such a huge life event for my sister and our family. Being able to fly home to see her made it all better though.
After my first year of grad school, I moved to Pittsburgh for a summer residency. This was a very rough move for me. I found housing last minute, living with three undergrads, which turned out to be an absolute nightmare (no offense 21-year-olds). I knew absolutely nothing about the city and knew no one. I had no car if I wanted to just drive. I cried hysterically when my parents left and I knew that leaving was the hardest thing for my mom to do. But just like I did in DC, I found my way. I made friends at work (thanks Dani, Colleen and Chris, for making that summer so much better)! I found Schenley Park, which became my home away from home. In a city that I was not a fan of, I found people, places and events that made it all worth it in the end. Not to mention, my residency was such a huge stepping stone in my career.
After that, I returned to DC, only to move into the hustle and bustle of the city, right in Dupont Circle. At this point, I felt like I ruled the city! I had all of my friends, knew my way from Arlington to Silver Spring, could call an Uber like a pro and had a good rhythm going. This was the year that I think I learned the most about myself. I was going to school and working. I was exploring dating like I never had before. I was searching for residencies, while still trying to enjoy all that the city had to offer. I was learning to cope with my health issues on my own and trying not to rely on my mom for answers to every question I had. I had to make difficult decisions on my own about where I would interview and move next, which ultimately led me to Pennsylvania.
Moving to Reading was hands down the hardest move for me. I was guaranteed to be there for a year, completing my residency, and knew absolutely nobody. I did not have a car for my first two months, lived alone, had to walk in the heat everyday to work, and spent hours on dating apps just to have people to talk to. To be honest, I was downright miserable and sad that first month. I didn't know what I did to deserve ending up in a place where I felt so alone. Philly was an hour away and home was four hours. I found myself making questionable decisions and doing things that I wish I hadn't. Thankfully though, I found my best friend, Kate, who led me to find the other two members of our crew, Nick and Owen. I also found my boyfriend at the time and was pleased to find out that there is always a silver lining in every situation. After the initial hardship, Reading ended up being such an amazing time in my life, filled with the most wonderful coworkers, lifelong friends and incredible experiences.
My most recent move, and hopefully the last for a while, was to Boston. After being in a rural area, I knew I needed to get back to a city. I sold all of my furniture, packed up my car, and was on my way. I wanted somewhere historical, where I had friends and knew I could find a great job. So Boston it was! Although it started off a bit rocky at first, my move here was the easiest of all of the others. At this point, I feel like I have this whole pack up the car and go thing down to a science. I was thankful to be embraced by all of my friends who showed me the city, took me to the best restaurants, visited me while I was hospitalized and were just there for me. My job has turned out to be more than I ever expected and I am very happy where my adventures have led me.
Moving was something I never thought I would do, but it has changed my life. It has taught me to be more independent, to be brave, to learn to be alone sometimes, to go out on a ledge and start up a conversation with a stranger, to take chances and to just have fun. I know that I have grown tremendously in the past five years from everything I have experienced, seen, heard and learned. Now more than ever, I am not afraid of the what-ifs and have found the courage to stand up for myself. I know that my family is always a phone call, drive or plane ride away. I know what I want out of life, what I like and don't like, and what makes me happy. I know how to drive a U-Haul, to navigate an airport, to make new friends as an adult, to put air in my tires, to have difficult conversations, to say no, to say yes, and to embrace life. I am truly proud to be independent and to be a woman that can rely on herself for everything she needs. I always knew deep down inside that this was who I was, but having that little extra push just solidified it more.
My advice to anyone that is afraid to move, is to just do it! Although some of my moves were very difficult, they ended up teaching me so much about myself, the world and the people in my life. Although I made some mistakes, I gained lifelong friendships, became even closer to my family, got a graduate degree, progressed in my career and did things I never thought I'd do.
Everything is temporary, always remember that. If you don't like something, you can say no or can leave. If you love it, you can absolutely say yes and stay! You will never know what's outside your door if you don't take that first step. I promise you that everything will be okay if you go outside of your comfort zone. You may find that some people don't agree with your choices or aren't there for you, but maybe that's a sign that they weren't really your true friends in the first place. The ones that do truly care about you, will support you every step of the way.
Some things in life are worth risking and in my case, I am so glad I took the risks that I have. I am closer to my dreams than I ever was before, and I thank all of the people, places, and adventures that helped shape me along the way.