October 7, 2016

The Top 3 Things I’ve Learned Moving Across The Country By Myself

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Lee Key
Lee Key

If you’re anything like me, you’ve felt stuck in life. Adrift yet bound by circumstance. You know there’s more to life; that you’re created for more. But you’re paralyzed, having no idea what your next move should be. After all, that next move will influence the course of your life and every moment thereafter. No pressure.

If you’re twenty-something and haven’t felt this, you’re lying. I was screaming at the top of my lungs but nobody could hear me. I had just graduated summa cum laude, conveniently without a clue as to what career path I was meant to follow. All the grueling study sessions, drowning myself in coffee, and relentlessly striving to get that “A.” I had gotten the correct answers on the exams, but none of them seemed to translate to the real world. I graduated, finally realizing the GPA I nearly killed myself over only left me hollow. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. I was suffocating; trying to generate contentment from exclusively discontented pieces. But I knew there was more.

So, I did what any level-headed recent college graduate would do in that situation. Unsure of the right move to make next, I just (literally) made one. I packed up my life and moved across the country by myself to a place I had never been and where I didn’t know a soul. A radical decision, yes, but I’ve always been the extreme type. In truth, I realize moving 2,000 miles from home to an unknown place with unfamiliar people may not be desirable or even presently realistic for every twenty something. Maybe even most. But hear me out, friends. Especially if you don’t think you’d do it yourself.

Here are the top 3 things I’ve learned moving across the country by myself:

1. It’s absolutely astonishing how many people are unhappy with their life but don’t take any action towards achieving happiness. I am continually blown away by adults, both young and old, that have accepted unhappiness as their norm. Honestly, if I had a dollar for every time I heard, “You’re so brave. I wish I could/would have done something like that,” I’d never have to work another day in my life. It’d definitely make this whole not knowing what career path to follow situation a hell of a lot easier. But here’s the thing. You’re NOT stuck and you CAN do it. Happiness for me meant adventure. Maybe it doesn’t for you. You don’t have to move across the country by yourself like I did (although I highly recommend it to anyone even slightly considering it).

But do something. Take some form of action to bring joy to your life, as simple as it may be. I’m not any more equipped to do it than you. We as humans weren’t created for unhappiness, so why do we continually perpetuate a cycle in which we live like we were? All we have is now. Do it before your could haves turn to would haves. Breaking the cycle isn’t going to be easy or comfortable, but it will always be worth it. Which brings me to number 2.

2. Being comfortable. “Comfort zones.” They’re weird and if you ask me, they’re crap. I mean seriously, think about it. We create comfort zones for ourselves. We live our lives in self-made boxes we construct over time. Everybody’s is a little different and may change slightly over the years, but we all think ours is the most comfortable home ever created. It’s what we’re used to and it’s what we know. It’s our “comfort zone.” But since we can’t see beyond the box we’ve surrounded ourselves in, we are oblivious to the life that lies beyond it. We may think we’re as happy as can be, but we don’t realize how restricting and how much of a burden living life in a box truly is. Oftentimes we can’t even fathom how much happier we could be without it. This move was anything but comfortable for me. Trust me, I was the girl that built a cement box around myself and wrapped it in a pretty little bow. From the outside in I was happy with my perfectly safe life, but from the inside out my box was dark, bleak, and unfulfilling. Again, I knew there was more. This move forced me to take a jackhammer to that box, and I’ve been chipping away at it every single day since.

Please hear me when I say breaking through the comfort of living in a box is the most liberating feeling in the entire world. It’s as if you can finally breathe your very first full breath. It humbles you how shallowly you’ve been unknowingly breathing all along. The countless people praising me for making my big move are still living life in a box. Harsh but true. Today I intentionally do at least one thing every day to force myself beyond the confines of my current “comfort zone.” Not something you necessarily have to move across the country to achieve. To you, it could mean something as simple as smiling at a stranger in public or choosing a different seat at your favorite coffee shop. Wherever you are in life, pack up your box and ship it out. Somebody stop me. Okay, on to number 3.

3. It was supposed to happen that way. All of it. My life in college went anything but the way I had planned. It was messy and if you would have asked me to sum it up six months ago, I would have said without hesitation, “It wasn’t supposed to happen that way.” I entered college with all the answers and left with only questions. In the moment, I simply couldn’t make sense of how wrongly things seemed to have gone. But the girl that thought she had everything figured out didn’t recognize there was more and couldn’t even identify that she was living her life in a cement box. She hadn’t yet breathed a full breath and never would have thought to move across the country.

In hindsight, it blows my mind how intricately every moment of inconceivable pain, confusion, and doubt during those years have woven together to clothe me in a blanket of strength, peace, and truth I can wear forevermore. It is because, not despite, what I went through that I am who I am and where I am today- mentally, physically, and emotionally. And if you ask me, that’s beautifully comforting. More awaits.TC mark

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