North Carolina is my home. I was raised on its sandy shores, I have hiked its tallest peaks, I have jumped its rushing waterfalls, and I have floated on its waves. Six days after I graduated college I drove to Key Largo, Florida in my new-to-me Toyota RAV 4 to start a brand new job.
It’s not a shabby gig. My job is fun, I live in paradise, and I make good money. However, Florida is not my home. My roommates are no longer my best friends, I don’t walk into a bar and know everyone, and I can’t just pop home for the weekend. This post-graduate limbo of leaving your home and trying to create a new one is a very real struggle.
In my life I ask a lot of questions because I like to have answers. I don’t have the exact answers to how to instantly create a home in a brand new place. All I can give you are 3 ways that have helped me.
1. Embrace where you live
Everglades National Park, Miami, numerous coral reefs, and WAY too many seafood restaurants are right outside of my door. I invested in getting SCUBA certified, have spent numerous days off exploring the everglades (no joke, I have swam with alligators), and have eaten more fish tacos and Key Lime Pie than one should. I am not sure what my future holds, if/when the time comes for me to part ways with Florida, I will leave knowing that I made the most of my time there.
2. Be comfortable and confident by yourself
I would never consider myself a loner. In elementary school I had a shirt that said, “Social Butterfly” and despite the 15+ years that have passed since the third grade I will confidently say that that shirt still holds true. Despite being a social butterfly, I have come to enjoy solitude. My friends and I are all on different work schedules but I never wanted to let that stop me from making the most out of my time not at work. I have learned to be confident grabbing lunch alone or buying just one movie ticket. It gives me time to read, to rest, to reflect, and to write this blog post. Don’t let me fool you though, I’m always excited for when my friends all get off work and I can continue being a social butterfly.
3. Know who you are and who you want to be
I may have underestimated the power of community and a root system. More than leaving Wrightsville Beach or the Blue Ridge Mountains, I left my family, my friends, and my community. They reminded me of who I am and who I want to be. Not to quote Katy Perry but, I was starting to feel a little bit “like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind.” My mom encouraged me to make a list of characteristics of the woman that I want to become. That list now lives on the bulletin board above my desk. That scrap of paper keeps me humble, grounded, motivated, and driven towards a future I can take pride in.
As twenty-something’s this is our time to move, to relocate, to travel, and to begin new adventures. It’s easy to figure out the logistics: where you will sleep, where you will eat, and how you will get there, but its hard to account for the personal aspects: who will you hang out with, what will I do in your free time, and when the next time you will get to see your family is.