Moving to a new city as a single adult is for SURE not for the faint of heart.
I've not written over here on this blog that much. I moved 7.5 months ago to Kalamazoo, Michigan and it has been as I expected.
I expected it to be hard, and it has been.
Similar to marriage, I think people often go into a huge life change like this thinking it will be amazing and adventurous; they assume it will be thrilling and fun. Those are not words I would use to describe moving to a new city.
My words are as follows:
Lest you think I'm "Miserable in Michigan"...let me assure you: I am not.
But I've not written over here for fear that my friends would think I'm miserable and lonely and made a huge mistake by coming. Because the first six months could be described in those words listed above.
But. I expected those things. I was not taken off guard or surprised by them. I moved here expecting that. See, I have a little bit of experience moving to a new city where I know NO ONE. I have a little bit of experience doing this as a single adult. And I have a little bit of experience figuring out not only how to make it work, but how to make it amazing.
If you are considering a move in the near future, this post is for you.
Moving to a new city is exciting for about the first 48 hours. The drive to wherever it is you're going is exciting. You're blasting good music with your windows rolled down. You're singing about "wide open spaces" and "spreading wings and learning how to fly." You're sipping on that iced coffee and you're hopeful for what's to come. You arrive at the new place, you unpack, you arrange your belongings, and then you sit down.
At this point, you realize you have no one to call. No one to come over and see your new place. No one to go grab a drink with. No one to go for a walk with to evaluate your surroundings. This is the moment reality hits. This is the moment you decide whether or not you're going to make this work or if it's going to be miserable.
When I moved to Tallahassee in 2011, my friend Helen made the drive with me. She saw my new apartment, we ate dinner on the floor and slept on air mattresses as furniture wasn't set to arrive for a few days. And then I took her to the airport. I wasn't sure how I would go on. I sobbed for a couple days straight. I had no idea what to do. But work started and I found my groove. I attended church, I met people, and I found a rhythm. I went to the same places; found my local grocery story, frequented the Starbucks by my house, and went to the gym. I tried to do all of these things at the same time so that when I'd walk in, I'd see a familiar face. Even if I didn't know them, it was familiar; as nothing else in my life was familiar.
Around the six month mark of living in Tallahassee, I went to dinner with a group of girls my age and it was that moment that I knew I was comfortable. I'd found people. I had someone to call to hang out. I had people I could invite over for dinner.
Then I up and moved to Washington, D. C. (I mean- there were a LOT of other things happening at this point--- homes burning down, etc...but that's a post from another time).
When I moved to DC, I gave myself 6 months. That's how long it took for me to feel comfortable in Tallahassee, so that's how long it should take in DC, right? #Nope.
I went expecting the first 6 months to be hard. I gave myself grace for the first 6 months. And after 6 months, tragedy struck and I was lonelier than ever. I didn't know what to do. I wondered if I'd made a mistake by going to DC. At the nine month mark, I had a dinner at my apartment and my table was full. Full of people I didn't know, but it was full. That was the turning point for me. I now had people to call. I had people to go hang out with. I had people who would go for a walk or go grab coffee with. And life took off. Five years total in DC and I had an ARMY of people.
Then after five years, I had several green lights pointing in the way of Kalamazoo, Michigan. I still am unsure of how or why- but this is where I have landed. I made the drive and moved out here knowing it would be 6-9 months before I felt like I was home. My roommate from DC, Jaryn, came to spend the first weekend with me and when she left, I knew what to expect. I knew the loneliness would come. I knew I'd go months without having anything to do. I knew what to plan for. I made travel plans, I found a good gym, I started the process of getting involved at a church; all while knowing this: it takes time.
This week has been a special week for me. On Sunday, I sat with friends at church. On Tuesday I went to my small group and had an incredible group of women pray over me. On Wednesday after the gym, a group of my 7pm Orange Theory Fitness friends all went for a drink. On Friday evening, I attended an event hosted by a coworker. And today... Today I went to the gym then met up with Katie for a 3 mile walk followed by a stop for ice cream. After, I went to my local coffee shop here in Kalamazoo that I'm for SURE ok calling "Mine." It opened a couple months ago, and like me, it's new. And I love it.
There are still plenty of lonely days--- and days that I post on Instagram more than normal; but there is something still so sad to me about going through an entire day with NO ONE knowing anything that I did. So if I'm oversharing on Instagram, it's most likely because I just am looking for connection. I want to know that someone cares about what's happening in my day.
If you are moving to a new town, here are my tips:
- Say yes. Always. If someone invites you to do something: SAY YES.
- Find a church. Even if you're not a religious person, find a local church. There are always ways to find people and get involved.
- Keep a routine. You're going to want SOMETHING to feel familiar. Even if that familiar thing is Chris from Trader Joes. He knows nothing about you except that you're from Texas and this is your first winter. But he will say hi and ask how you're handling the cold and you will need a familiar face.
- Go to the gym. At what point in your life will you ever have the opportunity to go to the gym 7 days a week? Just go. And kick some butt.
- Find a coffee shop that you love. Go by yourself. It's ok. You don't always have to drink coffee alone in your home. Even if you have good coffee. Give yourself an excuse to get out of your home and turn off the Netflix or Hulu show. Go sit and sip that coffee. Even if you don't know anyone. Sitting by yourself at a coffee shop is not the end of the world. And if you go enough, the baristas and store managers will know your face and start to say hi. They'll ask your opinion about new seating options for their space
If you're thinking of moving, prepare yourself. Prepare yourself for the hard and the lonely. But be assured life can be amazing and opportunities await that are beyond what you can imagine. You can do this. You can do hard things.
I'm 7.5 months into living in Kalamazoo and it is good. I'm finding my space.