The reality is (I promised myself I wouldn’t use the phrase “In this economy”) a lot of people have to relocate in order to achieve their desired career/lifestyle/lack-of-total-poverty. This is as frightening as it is exciting. Yes, a change of scenery can be refreshing and can totally alter one’s perspective and approach to life, but it can also make one feel alienated, vulnerable, and generally #dark.
There are some very real stages of acceptance in the transition between cities/lives. I’ve recently gone through this myself, having relocated from Montreal to New York City, but so far so good.
Keep these grounding mantras in mind and you might get through it all right. Not like, “everything works out like it does in the movies” all right so much as “avoiding a panic attack and/or emotional meltdown” all right.
You will want to see all of your friends who live in your current city, one last time. As if you’ve got a fatal prognosis, not just moving an 8-hour drive away where you will have access to wi-fi and Skype. Many of these so-called friends are probably just acquaintances that you haven’t cared about seeing for months or even years. Perhaps this is the city where you attended university and you’re feeling nostalgic for the people you were forced into closeness with out of dire necessity and routine drunkenness. Many of these people will not give a shit about seeing you off. Accept this and aspire to make better friends in your next city, while holding on in the back of your mind to the likelihood that you never will.
Scrutinize everything that irks you about your current city, regardless of the fondness and real attachments you have here. Everything that only kind of bothered you before but that you were able to easily deal with without complaining too much, suddenly becomes intolerable and unacceptable abhorrent. Justify within yourself the feeling that this necessary relocation is actually your means of escaping an urban hellhole. Ignore the nagging reality that the next city will probably turn out to be just as “bad”.
Read up on the new census-challenging phenomenon of living-apart-together relationships, an unfortunate byproduct of situations (just like mine) in which lovers/domestic partners/legit married spouses end up living in separate places but don’t want to call it something so damning as a “long-distance relationship”. Your significant other and you will be wholly convinced that everything will work out and you will convince yourself that your significant other is definitely going to move to this new city with you as soon as they do this thing or finish that thing. Embrace the gnawing fear deep in your heart that maybe they never will and that living apart could ultimately mean the end of your most meaningful relationship with all fault falling upon the heartless workings of our capitalist society.
Plan everything — literally everything, down to the really inconsequential details – knowing fully well that once you arrive in your destination, you will watch every little plan go out the window of your friend’s 5th-floor walk-up you’ll end up reluctantly crashing at when you can’t find an apartment before your new job starts (assuming you are fortunate enough to have said friend or said new job). Humble yourself but appreciate that you are living an authentic experience and wouldn’t your favorite hard-lived New York Modernist era authors be proud of you?
Settle in. Begin to discover all the places and lovable quirks about your new digs that fill the void left by your previous city. Come to terms with the fact that moving does not turn you into a whole new person, but appreciate the ways in which you will change and, with any luck, grow as a human being. Feel that excitement in discovering all of your future favorite places, people and things wash away your anticipatory neuroses. Eventually, you will carry on with life as if you never had a thing to worry about. (Or you’ll fall apart. It is completely possible that everything will fall apart.)