I've been living in a new city for what will be two years in August. I had left my comfort zone of college, that small, North Carolina town, filled to the brim with people and things that made me the absolute happiest. As graduation came and went, I could not comprehend how somewhere else could measure up to that little bubble I inhabited for four years. I have always had the vision to go to graduate school, first for a Master's degree, then a doctorate; phase one of that mission was in full effect, shipping me up to Boston at the end of August. I'd have a few months to cope with the loss of my one-mile radius of what I called my sweet, little home, but little did I know how many doors this new adventure would open for yours truly.
It is safe to say that my home in college did not come without networking, friendship forming, and joining every club until I had joined them all. It took academic persistence, efforts to see new perspectives, and constantly meeting new people who filled my world with such joy. But there is something to say about starting anew in college versus moving to a brand new city in adult-ish fashion. In college, you have the biggest welcoming committee, from current students, an orientation agenda to keep you busy, an RA to show you your way, and seemingly, everybody is in the same boat. Individuals from your freshman class, for the most part, all relocated from home and are expected to take enough classes to meet major and minor requirements, probably join a few clubs, and find some really good humans to call friends. It's basically an expectation.
Moving to a new city was far more ambiguous than that. In my case, yes, I still had the whole "school" thing as a guiding force, but it felt immensely different than the hand holding that came with my first week of college. I had some comforts of undergrad with a few of my closest friends in the area, but something seemed so much more vast and ambiguous about this next part of my journey. There were city blocks before me to discover, new faces around me every day, the lost comfort of knowing every single human on my walk from point A to B, and the concept of really carving a life for myself in this place. There were no set boundaries, no rules of how life should go. Those decisions were in my hands, and mine alone, which was a riveting, yet terrifying thought.
The key to all of this is that you have the power invested in you to place your energy and your time into whatever it is you choose. So choose wisely.
I advise you to seek out others who make life feel easier, who see your worth and celebrate It, and who make you think, "I am so lucky." They should reflect your energy, they should push you to your utmost potential, and they should never hesitate to support you. Just as you should be all of those things to them.
A friend recently relayed this quote to me: "Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are." These humans will be the best reflection of yourself, a true testament to your character and how you wish to be perceived in this life you are molding. Another friend, during our undergraduate time together, once said that she found the best people on campus and made them her friends. I hope that wherever you find yourself wandering, you do just the same. Find the good humans in this world and deem them one of your own, part of your squad. Know that those humans are what you deserve.
Invest your time and efforts into things that set your heart ablaze. Your passions and your interests are serving as your foundation to the next doors that will burst open and reveal the upcoming, exciting stages of your path. If you care about it deeply, pursue it with all of your being. Recognize how your contributions can positively change those around you. Remember, you have that power too.
If things make you feel uneasy, face them. Change them. Understand the root cause and alter them. This is your world that you are carving. You call the shots. Of course, there will always be the mountains and the valleys. The hills to climb and revel at the top of, and the ditches that you will feel stuck in. Persist. Know that in all of these moments you are growing and molding this wonderful story.
At the end of the day, all of the above should make you beam. They should make you proud because you have gotten yourself so far. You have entered a world of unknowns and made yourself a home. You have combatted a realm of ambiguity and have found comfort. You have sought humans who celebrate your very being, every single day. You have chosen to pursue a life that you own. You should never feel guilty for grinning ear to ear. Take heart, and more importantly, take ownership, for the world you are creating, all while knowing you are allowed to be a little selfish about what you choose to let permeate through your walls. After all, it is your rules. Choose what will best contribute to making your heart the happiest.
Low and behold, I am about to celebrate two years in this wonderful city that I now deem home. I work in a place that positively impacts humans every single day. I have surrounded myself with friends, both new and old, who allow me to understand the beauty in the silly clichés "the best is yet to come" and "some of the greatest humans you have yet to meet." I venture to new places, new neighborhoods, and new landmarks and understand that they are all a part of my new backyard. I have again found comfort in the familiar: seats of a baseball stadium, sweeping a pen across paper right before bedtime. I have also pushed myself out of my comfort zone in more ways than one.
I hope you do the same. I hope wherever your life is headed, you make that place your own. And please, do not forget to revel in it all, all that you have created, all you have become in the process, all who have entered your world, and all that is unraveling before you.