Hopefully you’ve read Part 1 of this series. If not, no sweat. It’s a helpful post about preparing and planning when moving cross country. It also shares more about my moving story and what I believe helped make my move a success. This post, Part 2, will pick-up right where we left of: the emotional fallout of moving cross country.
Let's face it. Moving can be tough. It can be super scary. Being separated by 1000s of miles from your support system can be very challenging, as well as exciting. Moving cross country can shake you to your core. It can challenge your belief system, your faith, your self-confidence and your values. Moving cross country can also be exhilarating. It can teach you a lot about life, your self-worth and your ability to withstand challenges.
Learning to balance the emotional highs and lows of moving cross country can help make your move a success.
I’ve experienced my fair share of challenges since moving to LA. Each one has taught me something new about myself, especially my ability to manage and cope with stress. I am not perfect by any means, but being a professional social scientist has helped me navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of loneliness and fear.
Learning to balance the emotional highs and lows of moving cross country can help make your move a success. Being so far from my family and friends has been very challenging at times. I can’t call on my dad to fix something that’s gone wrong. I can’t call up my best friend and tell him to meet me at our local spot for dinner and drinks. I had to create new relationships and build a new safety net for when things go wrong, which they always do! Finding new friends is harder and harder as we age. Especially for an introvert like me. Moving challenged me to put myself out there, which I had to do in order to make a new friend or two.
My first core-shaking experience happened in the first few days after arriving in Southern California. We had just driven across country in 5 days with 2 pets in 2 cars, both loaded down with the only belongings I brought. We were on an emotional high having made the drive without any problems. I had gotten an interview request within minutes after arriving and another 2 days later. I was beginning to think the stars had aligned to make this move a perfect success. Boy was I wrong!
My internal earthquake happened somewhere in Chinatown. I had just finished the most humiliating job interview EVER. I was ashamed, defeated and deflated. And, Chinatown, for all I knew, could really have been in China. Sure, the map told me it was near Downtown LA, but my internal compass had no clue where I was and why I was there. And then my car (which had just completed 2000+ miles in 7 days) broke down...in the parking lot...right after the interview. I was trapped at the exact moment when what I needed most was to “just get out of here”.
So, I sobbed, hysterically, in a random parking lot in Chinatown while my beau tried his best to console me. I was frightened, mostly scared of the emotional fallout that being separated from my loved ones and my safety zone could cause. I had finally realized just how vulnerable my decision to move had made me. It hit me suddenly, out of nowhere. Needless to say, it all worked out in the end. And, no, I did not get that job.
but my internal compass had no clue where I was and why I was there
What I didn’t know then is that Los Angeles wasn’t out to get me. I would eventually find a good job. The car was fixable. And I had planned for things like this by saving and budgeting. But, the lesson I learned that day was real and lasting: we have to prepare for life’s roadblocks.
Fortunately, I had an arsenal of internal and external resources to rely on to get me through. We had savings and emergency credit cards to help with the costs of fixing the car. We had friends nearby who were able to house us overnight while the car got fixed. I had another interview lined up because I had been so proactive before moving. Even though it didn’t feel like it at the time, I was as prepared for this problem as I could be.
I am now forever grateful to LA for this, and many other, life lessons. My choice to sell most of my things and leave my family worked out in the end. Sure, it’s hard to be so far away, but I make do. I have fallen head-over-heels in love with my new city. It represents progress and success for this small-town girl. And, four years later, I am here to tell you this: if I can do it, so can you.
Here are a few tips to help you acclimate to your new city. These can help you stay strong when times get tough!
Tips for Coping with Moving Cross Country
Tip 1: Focus on making new connections and creating a new support system. Look for new friends at work, school, church, neighborhood events or places you frequent (pub, cafe, etc). Consider joining a sports or gaming league, enrolling in a class (cooking, photography, etc) or attending a meet-up. The possibilities are endless.
Tip 2: Get acquainted with your new city. Spend time learning the highways, major landmarks and tourist attractions. Knowing more about your new city can help you feel more at home. There is nothing like that first time you DON'T need navigation.
Tip 3: Work to create a safe, comfortable sanctuary in your new home, apartment, dorm, or room. You will need somewhere you can find refuge from your new city. Spend some time organizing your things and decorating your space. Turn to thrift stores and flea markets for low-cost decor. Pinterest has a WORLD of decor ideas sure to inspire. Be sure to check out my home decor board.
Tip 4: Work hard to stay connected with your family and friends. Relationships require care and attention. While you are working to cultivate new ones, don't neglect the old ones. The relationships you have with your closest friends and family can be really important during a time of change. Use Skype, email, Facebook and Face Time to stay in touch. Or, put pen to paper old-school-style.
Being separated by 1000s of miles from your support system can be very challengingClick To Tweet
Tip 5: Stay true to you and what makes you unique. Focus on your hobbies and interests. Being creative can be curative. It can also be a great way to connect with new friends, colleagues and your community.
Tip 6: Be prepared for bumps in the road. Stock your car with the things necessary to stay mobile. Think spare tire, jumper cables, navigation system, phone charger, etc. There is nothing like a car emergency to remind you how alone you may be in your new city.
Tip 7: Learn something new about your new city. Turn to local newspapers, newsletters, community and cultural centers or even the local library to find out more about your new home. Sign up for email alerts, read flyers and listen to local TV and radio stations. Be on the lookout for upcoming festivals and events.
Tip 8: Take good care of yourself. Eat right, exercise and seek help with your physical and mental health when needed. Change can be hard, even depressing. By taking action you can help to ward off the worries.
Tip 9: Show yourself a little love. Be kind to YOU. Do what makes you happy. Do what makes you feel good. Check-in with YOU and how you're feeling from time to time. Keeping a journal of your experience is a great way to reflect on your feelings and stay in touch with yourself.
Tip 10: Talk it out when things get rough. Don't hold it in! Your family and friends may have been wary of your decision to move, but don't forget they are still there for you. If you are sad or lonely, reach out and talk with someone about how you're feeling. Getting it out feels better.
Remember, you're on a life-long adventure. Change is part of the fun. Live everyday like you mean it!
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I’ve said it before and I'll say it again, moving cross country has taught me a lot about myself. And, I would venture to say that I has done the same for many others.
If you are one of the "others", I want to hear from you. Let's chat (comment below).
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Thanks for all your support. It means the world to me. Until next time my friends!
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