All the time you read those stories about people who move away from home, leaving behind everything they’ve ever known to this big city of their dreams with only $200 in their pocket – and they NEVER LOOK BACK. Yeah. . . that didn’t happen for me.
I was born and raised in a small town outside of Tampa, Florida called Riverview. Growing up, Riverview was the place where you graduated high school with the kids you went to preschool with, and everyone’s parents knew each other. Long story short – chances are if you were raised in Riverview, you didn’t leave.
In 2015, it looked like I would become a part of that statistic. I was 24 years old and living at home (which by some standards is kind of old). I had just graduated from the University of South Florida and had big dreams to get the hell out of Riverview and move to a bigger city. I got my first “big girl job” in July 2015 and by December, I was being transferred to Miami (the big city of MY dreams).
I was older. I had a salaried job that provided me with a stable income and the ability to live my life the way I wanted to. I was prepared, right? WRONG. The truth is, you can’t really prepare for anything in life. Even if you cross all your T’s and dot all your I’s, life will still throw an unexpected letter or two at you (like F and U). But that’s the beauty of life, you learn the most about yourself through your struggles and the things that make you uncomfortable. Here’s what moving away from home taught me:
It’s OK to cry.
I remember my first night living in Miami. It was New Years Eve 2015 and I was eating frozen chicken nuggets on the floor of my empty apartment on the third floor of a South Beach luxury building (I had no furniture yet, not even a bed). It was the first time in my then 24 years that I was alone. Like really alone. I cried myself to sleep that night and many nights following, because let’s face it – moving away from mommy, daddy and all your friends is HARD. But hurting usually means you’re growing, so I accepted I was experiencing some growing pains and that made crying OK with me.
Sometimes you’ll be really, truly alone, and that’s OK, too.
Sitting on the floor of my empty apartment eating those frozen chicken nuggets was the first of many nights I would eat alone. It was hard at first, but being alone taught me to love myself and appreciate my own company. And let’s face it, this period of my life could be the last time I’m alone for the rest of it.
I AM ENOUGH.
Yes, I have definitely been lonely and have definitely been sad, but I also discovered that I don’t really need anyone else. I paid my own bills, I built an IKEA bookcase, I carried armfuls of groceries up three flights of stairs – ALL BY MYSELF.
But don’t get me wrong; I still appreciate good company and the occasional helping hand.
The relationships that are meant to last, will. The ones that aren’t, won’t.
Plain and simple.
A point on a map doesn’t make a place home, people do.
This was the biggest thing I learned, and I didn’t fully grasp it until I moved away from home. The truth is, I still consider Tampa home just because that’s where my family is. And, it will probably remain that way until I start a family of my own. I learned that I should never forget the people who made me who I am. They may not be with me on every step of my journey, but they are the ones that kept cheering me on when I felt like giving up.