One of my biggest journeys of growth was in 2016. I decided to leave the home(s) I called mine, the close friends and family I loved, and the life I’d built to create a new sense of identity. Though the Midwest was the only roots I’d ever known, I felt called to build myself and my future elsewhere. There was something about the West Coast, something about the beach, something about the sun, and something about starting new that pulled at my heart, begging me to run.
I can’t quite explain the feeling—all I know is that I wrote poetry around and around the topic of leaving before, during, and after the journey. And somewhere amidst the pounding in my chest, the restlessness of my feet, and the calling of the sun on my face, I found the courage to pack up a U-Haul, drive 4,000 miles across the country, and start the rest of my life.
When you leave the place(s) you’ve called home, something within you shifts. You realize, first of all, that the definition of ‘home’ can be a temporary, fleeting thing. You realize that some love stays, and some leaves. And you realize that who you are is never meant to be rooted to one place.
When you leave everything you’ve ever known, you find a strength within yourself that you might not have realized was there. You watch the people around you move about their lives, and there’s a strange peace that falls over you as you realize those lives are no longer in rhythm with yours. And that’s okay.
I left my college town, the city I grew up in, the friends I’d had for years, and the family I loved to start a life 4,000 miles away. It was the scariest, most transformative, and truly liberating thing I’ve ever done. And here’s what I learned:
1. You must walk away from the familiar to truly find yourself.
We love being comfortable. We love the feeling of waking up and knowing who will be in bed next to us, or making coffee in the kitchen, or meeting us at the bar on Saturday night. There’s a warmth in surrounding ourselves with the faces and laughter of the ones who truly know us.
But what happens when we realize we don’t quite know ourselves?
Sometimes when we get so caught up in living the lives we’re supposed to, in walking the paths we’ve always known, in loving and spending time with the ones who have always been around us, that we forget that there’s infinitely more chances and roads to take.
Walking away from the familiar teaches us that who we are is not defined by people or places. It teaches us the necessary lesson of more—there is so much more.
And all of it is within grasp, if we finally take that first step.
2. An attachment that doesn’t stay or strengthen with distance is not one you’re meant to hold.
I can’t tell you how powerful this realization was, and is for me even still. Moving meant leaving people I loved. It meant leaving what I thought I wanted, what I thought I knew, and who I thought I’d spend forever with—and that was terrifying.
But anyone who lets distance become a barrier for love they have for you is not meant to be in your life.
If a person cannot stay, cannot believe, cannot fight—then they’re not worthy of you. True love knows no distance.
3. The resilience and strength within you is far more than you ever imagined.
There is so much power and strength within us, but until we leave, we don’t know. Until we step away and out of our comfort zones we don’t discover that we can, and will stand firmly on our own two feet.
Regardless of whether you’re contemplating a move, feeling restless in your skin, or trying to understand a nagging feeling in your chest, know that you are strong—strong enough to leave.
4. People are afraid of what they don’t know or understand.
You will face opposition. You will hear people say they think you’re making a mistake, or question the path you’re traveling. There will be times when you listen, and times when you question your own truth. But you have to understand that people are afraid of what they don’t know. And they resist change—we all do.
Don’t let their voices mask your own.
5. Do not love anyone who tells you ‘no.’
If someone loves you, they’ll let you leave. They’ll understand that they cannot control you, and that this part of your story shouldn’t be about control in the first place. Everyone has a journey, and the right one will know that this is yours.
Do not love anyone who tells you ‘no.’
6. There are no mistakes.
Taking a chance will never be a mistake. Even if you leave and don’t find what you’re looking for. Even if you fall down and have to pick up the pieces and return back. And even if you come home empty-handed, you tried and that’s what matters.
There will always be another option if everything fails. You will always find another road to take, even if you hit a dead end. Don’t let fear keep you from trying in the first place.
7. When you let go, you give your life a chance to truly happen.
You won’t know how the future will turn out. There is no guiding light, no roadmap, no answer key. You will simply move forward because that’s what you feel is right—and when you let go—your life truly begins.
8. Above all else, listen to your gut.
We are wired to have a compass within us. This can be your heart, your brain, or a mix of both. But when you feel something within the core of you, trust it. There is a reason it’s there.
Featured Image Credit: Element5Digital