1. You get to know yourself better
“The most important relationship in your life is the relationship you have with yourself. Because no matter what happens, you will always be with yourself.”
Nothing can bring you closer to building an intimate relationship with yourself and getting to know yourself better than moving away from home and living in another city. You have the freedom to discover who you are, what you truly want and don’t want without any distractions or influences from people close to you — whether it’s close friends, family, or just familiar surroundings, societal and cultural norms you grew up in and were taught to believe.
Living in another city is an eye opener especially if the place is far removed from where you’re originally from. You observe things from an outsider’s perspective. You see things from the outside in which makes you re-think the way you understand your own culture and your own self from the inside out.
This process makes you re-think about who you are as a person and start questioning your original beliefs, attitudes, and values which were influenced by your upbringing.
Questioning this over and over with different perspectives coming in back, front, left, right, you now have a chance to shape yourself to be who you truly want to be and find your purpose in life with fewer biases (as you would have if you lived in your own culture all your life).
2. You become independent
Being independent takes courage — the courage to get over your internal fear to face unfamiliarity on your own.
When you move to a new city, everything is new; everything is unfamiliar. Unfamiliarity can make you feel insecure and scared at first. Getting to know the unfamiliar environment which soon becomes familiar teaches you to get over fear — fear of discovering the new streets alone, talking to new people, trying out new foods, or fear of people in general because you do not know people’s intentions and the streets look scary at night.
Moving to another city, you learn to build up the courage – over and over – to be independent and face fear on your own. You will reach a point where facing fear and getting to know the unfamiliar alone are no longer scary. You become independent.
And how rewarding does it feel to know that you can finally run on your own without having to have someone holding your hand all the time or watching over you?
3. You know what it feels like to have no support system
Even though we have friends, in the early years of living overseas you will always feel like you have no support system. If you have a good relationship with your family, no one can replace that feeling — the feeling that family is and will always be there for you through thick and thin, through the darkest hours and stormy nights. No matter what time it is, no matter where you are, they will always be there and go out of their way to help you.
Being overseas, the question is always at the back of your mind — How am I going to get to the hospital if I happened to get really sick? Who is going to help me if I had a problem with the housing situation? Who is going to be by my side if I get attacked on the street? It takes years to find true friends whom you feel you can truly rely on and trust. It is indeed a big responsibility. It is a heart-to-heart thing.
Moving to another city teaches you to be mentally strong, resilient at times, and be careful and cautious with every step you take because if something happens, you might be all on your own.
4. You become adaptable and open-minded
Probably nothing is ever what you’re accustomed to in a new city — from road rules, choices to choose from in day-to-day life, to people’s attitudes and common behaviours. As a result of this, you have to keep an open mind and continue to learn new things. It’s like going back to school again — social etiquettes, the education system, healthcare system, the country’s history and cultural beliefs, etc.
The next you know you are no longer scared of change. In fact, you learn to embrace change. You thrive on change. Stagnancy and complacency become your worst enemy.
You become addicted to the excitement of discovering new things and adapting yourself to and trying to understand the new surroundings. Then all of a sudden, you feel the urge to move again because you simply don’t want to lose that feeling of excitement (which makes you feel alive and gives you joy).
5. You learn to build connections and network
We all grow up with a group of networks — from schools to family, family friends, and friends of friends. When you move to another city, you don’t have these networks. You have to learn to build it up especially for business, work, and career progression.
A lot of hiring comes from referrals. School mates and family recommendations are common practices. When you try to establish yourself in a new city, you have to pick up another skill set which is your ability to build a connection AND your ability to break into a circle of tight connection and fit in.
It’s challenging at first. But once you’ve accomplished that, you become confident that you can do that all over again no matter where you go. It’s not scary anymore. You feel confident. You take a leap of faith in yourself.
6. You can build a new identity
You are a new brand here, not a rebrand. There’s no better way to start fresh than moving to another city.
But the art here lies in getting to know yourself and the ability to be able to become who you truly want to be without influences or distractions from others.
People don’t know who you are, where you’re from, who your parents are, what schools you went to. They probably couldn’t careless about your background. You now have a chance to embrace this new blank canvas to draw a picture of yourself. Whatever you want to be and do, you now have all the chances to explore and create without any influences from people you grew up with like family or childhood friends.
In a new city, you build a whole new ecosystem around you — be it new friends, a new job, a new apartment, new flatmates. You have to find the place and people you feel belong. You get to really follow your heart, your instinct, and your true identity at present without having to compromise with past relationships. You don’t have to hang out with childhood friends whom you no longer feel connected to because you both have grown apart mentally and intellectually. You don’t have to slightly change who you really are to please your parents.
7. You become self-reliant
From doing your own laundry to paying bills and dealing with complicated visa arrangement, you become totally self-reliant because you only have yourself to trust and do things for you. Your mum can’t help you. Your dad can’t help you. Your family friends and childhood friends can’t help you.
The art and benefit of being self-reliant is that you learn that you are in control of the situation and everything that happens around you and to you.
If you take actions, things happen. If you don’t, things don’t happen. Nothing is going to be delivered to you on a silver platter. At the same time, you learn to create and spot opportunities around you — but it’s you, who makes things happen. And you WILL make them happen.
8. You become more in tune with your gut instinct
We all have doubts and questions about situations and things, we can google, we can ask people for advice and opinions. But that only gives us a sense of security and affirmation that what we feel is right.
When you move to another city, more often than not, you have doubts — pretty much about everything — whether it’s the new job, new friends, new colleagues, new apartment, new boyfriend/girlfriend. You don’t have someone who can read your mind (like your best friend whom you’ve been friends with for 6 years) besides you for you to bounce ideas off. You only have yourself to trust and that’s your gut instinct.
The next thing you know you become much more aware of detecting fears and danger, and can make decisions from the inside out, rather than outside in.
When you tune into your gut instinct, every single decision you make will be wiser, more fulfilling & more heart-centred. When life throws you a curve ball, you’ll have a default check-in call with your gut instinct and move forwards knowing you did the very best thing at that moment in time.
Life won’t always be perfect, but with your gut instinct as your sidekick, you’re a whole lot stronger & smarter than you think.
9. You become bold and fearless
If you can get over fear of moving to another city on your own, you can get over fear of anything. Getting out of one’s comfort zone is an art that can be mastered. Just like any habit — actions done repeatedly become a habit that the mind is no longer scared of jumping right into.
Without the support system you’d have in your own hometown, it is hard to know where to start and which dots to connect. Moving to another city, you build up the courage to make things happen from the ground up. You start fresh. You need to know where to go and who to approach. You become more strategic in your thinking. You become bold and fearless because you’ve got nothing to lose. And if you don’t take actions, you’ve got nothing to gain.
If you can become who you want to be and be successful in your field in another city, then why can’t you do the same in another city? If you can make life experiences absolutely unforgettable in another city because you have found your kind of places and your kind of people, then why can’t you do the same in another city? Nothing is unachievable. Every little milestone counts and builds up your mental strength.
10. You start to wonder where home is
When you move to another in your 20s, it’s when life starts to become real life. You’ve just finished school. You’re starting your first real job. You are over the teenage period and start to become an adult. There are a whole lot of psychological changes going on in your head and your mind. You start to self-reflect more and question your being — What was I born to do? What am I really good at? What is my purpose in life? What is my true passion? How can I be truly happy? What’s the meaning of life?
Discovering answers to all of these questions when you’re far away from home, you have all the freedom to genuinely answer these without biases. The next thing you know, traveling and living overseas have become a part of who you are. You become emotionally connected to this new city you moved to only just a few years ago. You start to wonder where home really is. They say home is where the heart is, but where is my heart at?
We talk about falling in love as in falling in love with someone. But for a traveller, you fall in love with another city. The city has become your new love affair. And here you wonder… where will I fall in love with next?