On Moving to a New City

As most of you know, I moved to Boston roughly six weeks ago to begin my *adult life* aka try my very best to pretend to be a grown-up. After choosing between New York, where my family lives, and Boston, I decided that I wanted to stay in Boston. Much as living at home would have been a simple transition, I wasn’t ready to be done with such a wonderful city. And plus, I wasn’t hot on living with my parents. So with the help of my parents, I packed my bags into a very large car, hauled a dresser up two windy flights of stairs, and posted up in a city that I thought I knew pretty well. I told myself that I would have a ton of friends here and that I would absolutely love it.

Before I share my sob story, let me state that I do love it here. Boston is one of the most wonderful cities in the world (I’m a tad biased). It’s beautiful and has so much character. It’s approachable in that it’s not intimidatingly big but it also doesn’t feel so small that you could walk the entire city in 2 hours. I love my Friday afternoon walks through new neighborhoods and my Sunday runs along the river. Just last week, I briefly stopped while I was running just to take in my surroundings, truly in awe that I live in such a unique, inspiring city. I really enjoy my job and I love my apartment, so all is well in those areas. I’d say I’m doing fairly well.

What I didn’t anticipate when I moved here was loneliness. Feeling like you have to text five different people in the least annoying and awkward way possible to see if they’re doing anything tonight and if they are, if you might be able to come. That feeling that you get on a Saturday afternoon around 1:30pm when you want to do an activity but not knowing who to do it with. Knowing that other people from school are surrounded by their best friends in new cities taking them on together. Walking around a new neighborhood, content by yourself but kind of wishing that someone were experiencing it with you. Wanting to go to a bar but definitely not okay with sitting by yourself. Never.

Six weeks in, it’s hitting me that this transition might not be as easy as I thought it would be. Although I consider myself an extrovert, it’s going to take effort and time for me to find my place and people here. Don’t get me wrong–it’s not like I spend every waking moment by myself. I’m lucky in that I do have a lot of friends here, many of whom I troll the life out of on a Friday night to see what they’re doing. And they’re all truly incredible people–they’re hilarious and welcoming and don’t give a shit what people think. Those are the people I like. But no one can replace your best friends–the people who you text eight times in a row annoying them to come over and play with you. I’m not at that point with anyone here yet. Yet.

I naively assumed that the transition from college to real life would be easy. I thought that since I’d lived in Boston for four years and did have a ton of friends staying here that everything would be fine and that I’d live a glamorous postgrad life. But I forgot that moving into my own apartment in a new part of town combined with many of my close friends moving away might actually challenge me. That the only thing that remained consistent was the state I was living in. That it might be really tough on a Sunday morning when all of your feelings about postgrad hit you and you don’t know who to talk to. Sure, a phone call or FaceTime is an easy way to vent to your mom and best friend about postgrad. But it’s not the same as receiving the long, warm hug that you so desperately need and the shoulder that you want to cry on.

But you know what? It’s going to be okay. To everyone living in a new city or starting a new job or just living a different life: we’ll be okay. We’ll find the shoulders to cry on, the friends to troll for plans, and the significant others to hug us when we’re hurting. We’ll find our people and our places. But it takes time and patience and courage. Kudos to all of us for starting our lives and taking chances in new places with new people. It takes serious strength to so drastically change your life. But change is good–I’d argue that change is great. So we have to be okay with being alone for a little while. Independence is a good thing. But we also have to be willing to put ourselves out there; to hang out with people who aren’t (yet) our best friends, to start a conversation with a stranger, to be okay with the awkward silences that will diminish with time.

I think it’s important too to let yourself cry and to be scared and to own that the transition isn’t easy. But what you do after you’re out of tears is what’s key. Are you going to wipe your tears and then go back to binging on The Office, or are you going to tell yourself that you can do this? That you are a strong, independent postgraduate who can fucking do this.

I recently read an article on XOJane that really resonated with me about the seven things you should remember when you move to a new city. The ones that stood out to me: family is important, but don’t drive home yet. I know that if I go home, I’ll feel like I lost the battle between me and postgrad. I need to make Boston home before I go home-home. Make yourself your constantly reassuring friend, especially when your reassuring friends aren’t always there to pick you up when you’re feeling down. Give yourself credit–you’re doing the damn thing. The last item really resonated with me: find a place to be alone where you don’t feel alone. For me, that place is the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a few steps away from my apartment and where I find myself at least once a week pretending to read but really just people watching for hours on end. It reminds me that so many of those people probably went through the same thing that I’m going through and they turned out okay. It reminds me that there is something so much bigger than me in the world and that if feeling lonely sometimes is my biggest worry then I’m doing pretty well.

So the next time you’re feeling lonely, go ahead and cry. I fully intend to. But don’t lock yourself in your apartment and throw away the key–embrace this change, go explore, and go find your people and place. We can do it.

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