As I sit here typing this, the next spring graduation draws nearer. For many of my friends, graduation is actually next week, and I can’t help but marvel at the fact that, while they’re studying for finals, I’m over four months post-graduation and more than three months into my first “adult” job.
To be honest, it’s terrifying. Many days, I wish I could go back in time and return to my comfort zone. To my university. To my life before this city. Which might sound strange, considering I somehow managed to pull off the post-grad plan that many idealize: I secured a job in my chosen field prior to graduation, moved to a brand new city by myself, and completely hit the reset button on my life.
Now, this isn’t exactly the first time I’ve done this. When I first transferred universities, I mostly achieved the exact same things in terms of starting completely over. But here’s the thing… doing it outside of a school setting has been so much harder than I initially anticipated. So, while I’m not going to tell you not to move to a new city and start over after college, I am going to warn you of a few things that I’ve come across:
You might be lonely as hell for a while
If you’re like me, all of your friends will either still be in college or will have moved on to their respective cities and states by the time you move all of your furniture into that brand new living space. And, being a relatively introverted person, my first month alone wasn’t really an issue; in fact, it was like a breath of fresh air I didn’t know I needed. But the longer I was away from college, the less regularly my college friends would reach out to me. And making new friends as an adult has been far more challenging than I thought, especially as my city is comprised primarily of an older demographic and I don’t quite feel like I fit in with my coworkers.
Then, as the months drew on, my alone-ness began more and more to resemble loneliness. Three months in, I found myself in danger of sliding back into the arms of my depression and I had to make the conscious decision to fight my way back out. To try harder.
Starting over somewhere new sounds liberating — and it is, don’t get me wrong — but it’s also easy to forget just how far away your support system will be once you move. My advice is to try putting yourself out there as soon as possible; I’m only just now starting to piece together a social life in my new city.
You might find it difficult to escape the discomfort
I know that discomfort is all a part of the process, and I know that we need discomfort to grow. But what I didn’t realize was that I would essentially be kept outside of my comfort zone all of the time, every day. I mean, I haven’t just experienced discomfort. I’ve been living there.
And in the near-constant state of discomfort, I found myself questioning all of the choices I had made. I found myself wondering if maybe moving to another city — one where I already knew people — would have been a better option. I wondered if I should move home and be with my dad and stepmom again. Or if maybe I should have taken the other job offer from a few months ago. I even wondered if my field was something that I really wanted longterm, or if I had unwittingly stuck myself in a place where I would be forever uncomfortable.
Discomfort prompts growth and learning, but without a comfort zone to return to, I found it difficult to analyze and evaluate different situations in my own terms. Thus, I questioned everything about every choice I made.
To find the growth, you might have to give in to the pain.
Now, don’t get me wrong — I have learned so much more about myself over the last few months. It’s just that little of that has stemmed from joy or pleasure. Truly, if loneliness and discomfort have done anything for me, they’ve provided me space to self-reflect further and continue to own up to my own bullshit. But to get there, I have admittedly had to cry on the kitchen floor when my roommates weren’t home because I didn’t understand why I couldn’t be comfortably social, cry in my car on the way to and from school board meetings because I was just so sure I wasn’t good enough for my job, cry in bed when I couldn’t sleep because I missed my home and family, cry in the parking garage at work because I missed my friends at school…you get it.
When you start over, you’re making a very intentional choice to put yourself into a position where there’s not much to hold on to mentally, emotionally, and sometimes even physically. Sometimes you don’t even fully realize the magnitude of what you’re asking of yourself.
But it does get better.
I may not know what I truly want, how long I’ll stay in this city, or what my life would have been like if I had decided to go elsewhere, but I do trust that everything happens for a reason. In truth, I don’t think I really want to be in this city anymore, but I’ll just have to make an effort to keep positive and keep growing for however long I’m here.
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