When you leave everything you know behind, you will hurt people. You don’t want to hurt these people, but it’s an inevitability. You will be soaked in the guilt of knowing that you’re doing what’s right for you but not for them. You will hear Regina Spektor’s “Small Town Moon” play over and over in your head.
“How can I leave without hurting everyone that made me?/How can I leave without hurting everyone that made me?”
You will try to imagine a life without the people who molded and shaped you–the people who held you and listened to you and provided shelter and shoulders and unconditional love. You soon realize you cannot imagine this kind of life. You will soon realize that neither can they.
You will feel them pull away. You will watch their faces sink when you talk about your move across the country. You will start holding back all the details, all the hopes and twinges of excitement that fill your head because you don’t want to see those sunken faces.
You will wonder if you’re making the right choice because how could a right decision make others so sad? How could a choice that was supposed to be relieving and filled with possibility be so detrimental and scarring for others? You will not be able to answer these questions.
But you will do your best to be gentle with the people hurting. You will assure them. You will remind them you’re still in their life. You will write them. You will Facetime them. You will send them gifts. You will make sure they know that just because you’re left their state doesn’t mean you left their life. You will do your best.
When you leave everything you know behind, you will get lonely. The kind of loneliness that is palpable. You will hang up pictures. You will surround yourself with the faces of the people who know you best. You’ll stare at these pictures and pray to God no one forgets you. Before you unpack your dishes, you’ll set up the perfect guest room. You’ll put out fresh towels and linens and make the bed just right–just in case anyone wants to come visit this summer.
You will walk your dog in the perfect California sunshine and you will cry. You will second-guess why you did this. You will wonder if you’ll ever make friends. You will miss your family and friends to the point where you can no longer stand. You will kneel on the sidewalk. You will take a deep breath. You will let the loneliness pass through you with the bay breeze. You will stand.
When you leave everything you know behind, you will feel liberated. You will feel brave and proud and strong. You left behind comfort for adventure. You are fucking brave. You dug into the dirt and pulled your roots out with both hands. You replanted them in a place filled with scary unknowns. You took a risk. You leapt blindly into the darkness. And in this darkness, no one knows you. No one knows your past. No one knows your memories tainted with loss and gut-punching sadness–the kind of sadness that you can physically feel course through your veins. The kind of sadness that smothered you until you couldn’t breathe. These ghosts are still attached to your life, but they are no longer living in the same room as you. They are still in your heart, but they will feel lighter. You will feel lighter.
When you leave everything you know behind, you will change. You will feel humbled. You will feel small. You will feel strong. You will get to know yourself on entirely different level (all that alone time, y’know?). You will be intentional with friendships. You will miss what you used to call home. You will call home. You will explore. You will open yourself up. You will adapt. You will survive. You will feel lost. You will wonder when this place will stop feeling like a vacation. You will yearn for familiarity. You will learn how strong and resilient you really are. You will grow. You will realize that everything you left behind is really everything that made you who you are today–and you will keep those people and those places in the safest space of your heart where they can never get hurt.