Seven years ago today, I packed my car full of my belongings, plugged ‘Charlotte, North Carolina’ into the GPS, and headed away from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania… the only place I’d ever known as “home.”
Having made the decision to move only a few days earlier, I didn’t really even have time to worry that I didn’t have a place to live or that I didn’t know a soul in Charlotte.
My mom, on the other hand, found time to worry AND throw an awesome going away party. If you know her, this isn’t the least bit surprising. Lady Katie throws great parties. My friends and family came to wish me well on this new endeavor. Everyone had kind things to say, but the single most repeated phrase that night was “You’re so brave.”
To be honest, I didn’t for a second look at it that way. Maybe I was just young and naïve… or maybe it was the fact that I was living at home, single, and desperately searching for a teaching position… but I was then and still am a firm believer that you should move to a new city (maybe even one where you don’t know anyone) at some point in your life.
Now, this is not to say I don’t love my hometown or that I wanted to leave my friends and family. That’s not the case at all. I actually thought I’d move back home after a few years. Staying wasn’t part of the plan. But, I fell in love with Charlotte and seven years later, I’m still here. (I’m sorry, Mom & Dad!)
I thought it’d be fun to honor the seventh anniversary of moving to Charlotte with seven great reasons why you should consider moving to a new city in your twenties (or 30s or 40s.. or whenever!).
1. You will be in for an adventure.
(noun) an exciting or remarkable experience
Um, hello. No matter where you go, how long you live there for, what you do while you’re there, it will without a doubt be an exciting and remarkable experience. And if you’re not out seeking those types of experiences, I’m not sure you’re really even living. I can still remember the exciting drive down south, the hunt for an apartment, figuring out a morning routine for a new job, making plans for the weekend with new friends. Every little step was such an adventure.
2. You can reinvent yourself.
Maybe you’re bored with your job or your wardrobe. Maybe you’re dying to try out something new. But you’re afraid of what people will say, or you wonder if they’ll judge you behind your back. While none of that should matter, I get it. Moving to a new place allows you to have the freedom to start over and change those kinds of things. I remember wanting to try red lipstick, but worried people would judge since I never wore any lipstick. So when I moved to Charlotte, I realized that no one knew that, so I threw on the boldest red I could find… and you wouldn’t believe the compliments I got. Moving to a new place allows you to experiment with new things and do the things you want to do!
3. You will get out of your comfort zone.
Obviously, it’s nice to feel comfortable. But, what’s better than that is a really good, healthy challenge. Moving to a new city will force you to build connections and create a network, both socially and professionally. You will have to introduce yourself to new people, places and experiences. Before I moved, I would have never gone to eat at a restaurant alone or see a movie by myself, but since I didn’t have friends and family around all of the time anymore, I had to force myself to do more alone. And surprisingly, it felt amazing to know I could.
4. You will build your independence and self-confidence.
Because you’ll be pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, you will inevitably become more independent and your confidence will sky rocket. You’ll quickly realize all of the things you will be able to do on your own – eat dinner at a restaurant, go see that new movie at the theatre, build your new IKEA furniture (but, seriously, how do they get away with those assembly instructions?!), ask a coworker to coffee or drinks after work. You might be nervous and unsure beforehand, but afterwards, you’ll absolutely be proud of yourself.
5. You will make new friends.
As a child, making friends was a piece of cake. Sadly, making friends when you’re an adult isn’t quite as easy. But because you’ll be getting out of your comfort zone, building your self-confidence, and becoming more independent, you will be able to [and have to] do it. Meeting new people is one of my favorite things. I love getting to know people and hearing their back stories. Moving to a new city blows open the doors to new people, interesting stories, and potentially great friendships. I met new friends the very first week of living in Charlotte, and some of them are my very best friends today.
6. You will find out who your real, true friends are.
Distance is hard on any kind of relationship, there’s no doubt about that. But the silver lining is, when a relationship is important to you, distance will not matter. Real friends will send you “I miss you!” texts. True friends will set up wine Wednesdays via Facetime. Genuine friends will come over when you’re home for the holidays. Best friends will plan trips to visit you. As you get older, you’ll begin to follow the “quality over quantity” rule in regards to friends. Moving away is a true testament of your friendships. Shout out to my friends – I’ve been so lucky have the best of the best.
7. You will appreciate home even more.
What’s that saying? Something like, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?” Yeah, this is kind of like that. I have always loved Pittsburgh, but being away from it for this long and being able to compare it to another city makes me really, really appreciate it. I am so proud to call it my hometown – the city that shaped me. Each visit I make, I take more and more time to soak in the cool, the unique, the special that is Pittsburgh – and I’m not talking just about the city itself, but the people too… My family, my friends, my neighbors. Being back there fills my heart to the brim, and I’m not sure I’d have been able to appreciate quite the same if I had never left. Maybe you think your hometown isn’t that great, but I promise you if you step away for some time, you’ll be able to look back at it and smile fondly.
Ultimately, you have to do what feels right for you. We each have different responsibilities and goals in life, but I’m just here to say, if you’re given the chance to try out a new place and you’re even slightly considering it, GO FOR IT. You’ll always regret not going. And what’s the worst that can happen? It doesn’t work out for you and you move back. So what? Your hometown, family and friends will always welcome you with arms wide open.