If there’s been one thing I’ve done a lot of in my young life, it’s been relocating. My family moved around a decent lot in the tristate area growing up, and that continued on into my early teen years, too. After my father had passed away, my family moved to South America (on more than one occasion), different states, etc. To say the least, we’d been around to a good variety of home fronts over the years before eventually making it back to Northern Kentucky. Once we’d settled in there and I got established at a new school, I prayed for a moment of stability in this one place – at least long enough for me to graduate with my current class. Conveniently enough, I ended up making a few good friends and meeting Tim (which obviously sealed the deal for me then and there) and I was planning the rest of my life based in/on NKY at 18.
Eventually we did go on to graduate, tried our hands at various jobs, schools, learned some valuable (and some harsh) real adult life lessons, moved out of our parents’ homes, got our first place together, etc. And honestly, at that point in time, I was elated with that – where we ended up and where we were still going. We’d found our niche and I was thoroughly convinced I would’ve remained content with that for the rest of my life. Kentucky is a beautiful place, and though I’m sure we’ll eventually find our way back, only through leaving the most consistent place of my young life did I realize that I was meant to continue experiencing life elsewhere (not just anywhere, but as far away as continentally possible) to really get the most out of it.
Moving to California has truly been the biggest blessing I never saw in the cards for my life, but is exactly what I needed without ever knowing it. For a devout planner like myself, it’s hard to deviate from what you know, much less jumping into the unknown in such a permanent way. I research just about everything (I’m one of those people who can’t even visit a restaurant without Googling the menu first), but I wasn’t able to do too much digging pre-move because neither of us were entirely sure where we were going to be ending up beyond SoCal. Yet for some reason, that didn’t terrify me – it ignited a fire in me I’d never experienced before. And that passion within has and will continue to help shape the person I am. Here’s a list of ways making such an life-altering move ended up being the best thing I’ve done so far in my twenty-two years.
1. The realization that there’s so much to this world beyond our own little neck(s) of the woods.
It’s no secret that traveling is one of my biggest passions in this life. In fact, I intend on spending my young years exploring as much of this world as I possibly can. I’d said for years after making our longest home in KY that I wasn’t going anywhere anymore, that my time moving all around was over, etc. (Not exactly the mentality one should go into our lifestyle now with, but I was young and had no idea what I was talking about. Shocking, I know.) But in the few years post-high school and all that came with them, I realized how much the idea of setting out for somewhere new again appealed to me. I’d “settled down” enough to find the person I want to continue to explore this life with, now I want to get into as much of it together as we possibly can. In my opinion, this world is so big, beautiful, and magnificent, that staying in one place forever is a personal disservice (vacations are a good start and encouraged, too!) – remaining on one page when there’s an entire novel to discover, so to speak. And not that there’s anything wrong with that! Different folks, different strokes kind of thing. But I cannot say how happy I am that I changed my mind, because the only thing I love more than exploring this wide world is doing it with my forever best friend by my side.
2. We’ve been able to genuinely come into our own, as people and as a couple.
Being thousands of miles away from familiar faces and places has forced us out of the boxes we may have placed ourselves in before. We as people are often shaped by the things and others around us, so throwing us into an entirely new realm has allowed us to evaluate our likes/dislikes, personalities, etc. to see if they’re genuinely “us”, or simply a collaboration of things we’ve gotten used to or has been expected of us. As a couple, we’ve maneuvered less ideal times on our own, spent holidays alone, and we’ve learned what’s best for us by us and the two of us alone. I’ve appreciated this opportunity to thoroughly focus on the two of us because I firmly believe it strengthens our family’s foundation. It’s one thing to say that you and your spouse share a unified front – it’s entirely another to live it while establishing your life together on what might as well be the other side of the world.
3. Some things vacations can’t cover.
There are a lot of things I wouldn’t have ever discovered about this place had my time here been limited to a week or two (I’ve been here 6 months now and I’m still constantly finding new things to get into each weekend). I love doing touristy things more than the average person, but the opportunities actually living on the West Coast provides me with? A trip to merely visit could not possibly compare (although they are always a good idea anyway!) Getting (or at least trying) to live like a local has made all the difference.
4. It’s taught us to not take anything for granted.
We’ve come to the realization that we may only have the chance to visit home maybe once a year as long as we’re on the West Coast, and that came with a mix of emotions. As much as we love our new life, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t little things from KY I miss on a somewhat regular basis. More frequent/regular family time, the friends, things, and places we’d grown up with, the food, etc. Even though I’m in no immediate rush to go back, being away will make us really take advantage of the time we do have when we return periodically.
5. Our hometown is not all it was cracked up to be.
Northern Kentucky is a wonderful place; it’s homey, it houses so many wonderful memories and loved ones, and it’s where our love story began. In fact, I’m fairly certain that’s where our family will end up eventually to raise kids, buy a house, etc. However, and something I’ve especially noticed only through leaving, there just isn’t very much to do as young people. Sure, it has its unique charms, but you never realize how many more opportunities there are until you venture elsewhere. Kentucky will always hold a piece of my heart – it’s just not where I was meant to spend the prime of my life. California truly houses so much in one place that I never would have had the opportunity to know otherwise, and I’m so glad we got to experience it this way.
6. You learn who really matters – and who never did.
Everyone loves you when you’re at their disposal, and they love you even more when your time together is fleeting. Life goes on with or without us there, and it’d be ignorant to think or expect otherwise. But relationships of any kind do require work on both ends, and like anything else, someone’s interest in you is measured in the effort they’re willing to put into you. When you’re on the other side of the country, a simple phone call, text, or social media message means the world, because it means at the very least that you’re thinking of us. But the number of those that have faded to black is eye-opening and a statement in itself, too. If distance makes the heart grow fonder, it also shows you who was all talk and no action, as well.
7. Embrace the new and different.
Anywhere outside of what you’ve established as “home” or the familiar is going to seem alien and foreign. Embrace that. Soak it in. Even if you later decide it isn’t for you, try everything just to say that you did. Make the most of every opportunity this life brings you. You can always return back to what you know, but the opportunities to experience new people, places, and things are fleeting, even if they don’t seem like it. Don’t let them pass you by.
8. Your opportunities to be and do anything are truly limitless.
As cliché as it may sound, we have the power to be whoever we want or do anything we choose to. We are the creators of our happiness. When people remain surrounded by the same ones they have for a majority of their lives, it’s instilled in them that they must be who they’ve always been, doing what they’ve always been doing. Not only is that incredibly false, it’s unbelievably disappointing. New people in new places seem to have worlds of possibilities available to them without judgement. We grow and change over the years, and breaking out of an environment that that tries to restrict that should be encouraged.
Moving away is a sobering, eye-opening, and necessary part of growing up. Moving away from your hometown or state is (in my opinion) an even more pivotal part of life not everyone has available to them. It isn’t always that feasible or simple as packing up and going, of course, but should you ever find that opportunity presented to you, I cannot stress enough how much it’ll change you in the best ways possible if you take advantage and let it. Venture beyond whenever you can!