Relocation is hard. There’s no two ways about it. There’s the process of saying 'goodbye' to your old home, which comes with a host of emotional turmoil. Then there’s saying 'hello' to your new home, which will hide its gems from you until you fully settle in.
Moving also comes with physical aches and pains. Lugging boxes, hauling suitcases, packing your sore body into cramped airplane seats, and the stress-headache that often comes from holding a seemingly endless list of logistics in your head -- your body is a punching bag for an unending series of tasks, all of which need to happen now.
Relocation is one of the most difficult things many of us do in our lives. It requires discarding, at least temporarily, the safety of home and its familiar faces and routines. It then thrusts us into the ambiguity and turmoil of temporary living arrangements, unfamiliar faces, and a blank slate on which we are meant to rewrite our routines. Some days, especially early on, it can feel like you've betrayed yourself even though you know that, in the long term, you're making room for a better self.
Everything we assume about how to live — and live well — is tossed out the window when we move. This painful, chaotic mess of a process is one I have been through more times than I care to remember. I can still feel the back ache from unpacking boxes the last time.
Here’s the thing about moving though: every time you do it is an opportunity to learn exponentially more about yourself. It humbles you, and reminds you that everything you thought you knew about living your life was conditional on where you lived before. It opens your eyes to the fact that you can change everything if you really want to. Nothing is set in stone; you’re more free than you think you are.
Here are the top three things I’ve learned about relocating:
It will challenge your close relationships, but don’t retreat from them. You are relocating, not your friends or your family (unless they’re coming with you). So, everything everyone says about being tired or exhausted about day-to-day life will ring hollow. In fact, these complaints will sound downright annoying. How can you possibly know what tired is?! You’re not ripping up your life — I AM! This can toss your relationships all over the place. You won’t want to talk to people or be around others. You’ll just want to wallow in self pity and retreat from social life altogether and reminisce about when life was easier, better understood, and more predictable. But, whatever you do, DON’T WALLOW and DON’T RETREAT. I wallowed and retreated when I moved the last two times, and I regret the lost life currency.
Push yourself to go out and find normal, and throw yourself at creating new routines. Remind yourself that you will fail at a lot, and a lot of the things you try will feel wrong or weird. It doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong place or that you made a huge mistake. It just means you haven’t found the perfect routine yet. Celebrate every attempt you make at making normal for yourself, and whatever you do, don’t give up! This is a ripe time to learn and grow.
Remind yourself why you did this, and forgive yourself when things don’t go exactly according to plan. You’re putting yourself through a lot. Go easy on you. While it’s okay to push yourself, don’t try to do everything all at once. Treat yourself, and take a lot of breaks and naps. Your adrenaline will be high for a while, and that’s okay. Take moments to pause and remind yourself that millions of people around the world relocate, you’re just one of them, and you’re doing just fine. Congratulate yourself for how far you’ve come, and observe the moment you are in. Acknowledge it, and breathe into it.
You’re opening a new chapter of your life, and when you look back on what you’ve done in a year or two, you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come and how much you’ve grown. Good luck, and welcome home.