As of two days ago, it’s officially been one month since we packed up our lives and hopped a one-way flight to the Bay Area for Eric to start his new job. What?! Time has gone insanely fast, and I chronically feel like we just moved in last week–but that’s moving for you. Anyways, after a reflective chat with a friend back in Minnesota yesterday, I wanted to write about my thoughts on life in California so far.
It doesn’t sink in immediately.
At the beginning, a cross-country move is surreal. Everyone wants to call and see your new place! All of the new fruits and vegetables in the farmer’s market make it feel so exotic. You spend a ridiculous amount of time taking trips to Target because for a lamp or garbage bags, only to realize when you get home that you forgot to buy lightbulbs or a trashcan. Back you go. Decorating an apartment from scratch is so time-consuming that there’s hardly time to think about the emotional aspect of moving. I wondered if it could really be this easy.
Once I started looking for jobs, I realized that I don’t know what I want to do yet–but that’s okay.
It felt like getting into college was the entire point of life for most of middle and high school. I spent most of my time studying, and my free time daydreaming about what it would be like once I was at Carleton and had finally met the tall, dark, handsome love of my life. (<–Still have a hard time believing that daydream actually happened.) And Carleton was an incredible experience, everything I could have hoped for.
But when you’re a perfectionist who has made academic achievement her only goal for so long, you end up wondering after graduation: what is it that I actually want to do? Because you can’t make a living earning straight A’s, no matter how much you want “professional good grade-earner” to be a career.
Two articles that have really helped me: Your Job Doesn’t Have to Be Your Passion and What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life? Because guess what? It’s okay if you don’t know what you want to do. If you read descriptions of the jobs you thought you wanted and realize that you don’t. It’s okay to start a career and decide it’s not for you. It’s okay work a job that isn’t as intense as college. It’s okay if all you really want is to be a stay-at-home mom someday. It’s okay to feel a little lost.
Some days are really hard…
I lived in the Twin Cities for fifteen years. I would be flat-out lying to you if I said that leaving was easy.
During college summers, I lived at home and worked in the Twin Cities or at Carleton. Last school year, I pseudo-lived in a suite with Eric and his guy friends. (On paper, I lived somewhere else, but… no. For all practical purposes, I lived in the suite). It is a hard adjustment to go from being around people 24/7, like I’ve been for as long as I can remember, to being home alone in the apartment, job searching, housekeeping, and running the occasional errand during the day.
It’s life, I know–we don’t get to live with all of our friends forever and that’s a part of what makes college so special. Having no family and only a handful of close friends nearby makes it a much more difficult change, though. Even though we have phone calls and Skype dates every week, set up dinners with nearby friends, and have already hosted a guest in our apartment, it’s hard.
It’s hard to find ways to get involved in the community that don’t cost a mint. The cost of living here in general is exorbitant, especially rent. I miss having huge parks and nature preserves close by–they’re all so far away here. The hot, dry weather actually has me missing Minnesota winters. I don’t think that we want to stay here for many years to come.
But I’m not ready to go home yet.
The hardest part of moving to California, for an extremely future-oriented person like me, is that we don’t see it as a long-term home. At the same time, I’m not sure if anything better could have happened to me at this point in my life.
For me, the Twin Cities would have been an incredibly comfortable place to live after graduating. Despite the winters, Minnesota is a beautiful place. My hometown is a decently sized suburb with a big mall, hospital, spacious parks, and lots of amazing restaurants. Yet it’s small enough that I rarely visit without running into someone I know. It feels so friendly and small-town. And I would have been no more than a 45-minute drive away from dozens of family members and friends. Honestly, I’m such a homebody by nature that I’m not sure I ever would have left.
But living in a place to which I don’t feel strongly attached has finally given me the desire to see more of the world. I didn’t understood “wanderlust” until now. I was too busy writing our five year plan: figuring out exactly where we’d live, when we’d buy a house, when we’d have kids (baby fever in your 20’s is too real!). And I do think it’s good to have long-term goals, but not to the point that life is completely devoid of spontaneity. I don’t want to look back on my 20’s and realize I missed them because I so badly wanted to get onto the next phase of life.
I love Minnesota, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someday, we end up back in the Twin Cities. But I’m not about to turn around and fly home as soon as we can. There’s a lot more out there for us to see before we do that.
If you’ve moved before: what did you learn from moving? If not: if you could move anywhere, where would you go?