A little over a year ago, I graduated from high school and was nearly wetting my pants with excitement over the all-too-soon reality that would be me packing my bags and jumping on a plane that would take me from California to New York.
Leaving my old life behind also terrified me; there’s comfort in familiarity, and there’s nothing familiar about living on your own for the first time in a state you’ve hardly even visited before.
Quickly, I learned how amazing life after high school is, and that change can often be one of the best things to ever happen to you.
In the spirit of another year gone by, to all the 17- and 18-year-olds geared up to flee the nest and fly into a new life in a new city, here’s what I learned moving out of state.
1. Keeping in touch with family and friends is not easy.
Okay, so you’re moving hundreds of miles away, and as you tearfully bid your family and friends goodbye, you promise every single one of them a weekly phone call or text. You’re pretty darn good at it at first, too.
You're consistently letting Mom and Dad know how you’re doing; you're reminding you’re high school BFF know how agonizing it is to be so far away from each other. But, then, things change.
You get a job and start working all sorts of absurd hours and days; classes start and studying takes over. You begin meeting people you genuinely like spending time with and *gasp* realize you could actually be friends with.
The beeps and buzzes of your cell phone become less frequent, and you soon realize it’s been a week and a half since the last time you talked to anyone from home.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? You realize as an adult how true it really is.
You may not have the time or capacity to play "keeping up with the hometown," but some of the hardest things to do are well worth it. That means remembering to let important people know you’ve been thinking of them, even if it is only every other month.
2. No one will understand your lingo.
When I say no one, I mean no one. You will constantly have to dissect for people certain expressions.
“Let’s meet somewhere else. That part of town is fasho cutty.”
Believe it or not, I had to explain to people “fasho” meant “for sure” and “cutty” was just another word for sketchy. Seems obvious, right? Wrong.
Don’t assume people know your town’s slang because they “fasho” do not. You’ll be asked to translate everything you say into regular English.
I guess everyone’s just booty-tickled that their city has no originality with words and isn’t awesomely creative.
3. Groceries don’t buy themselves, and grocery shopping is hard!
You know all that food always in the cupboards and refrigerator back at home?
Apparently, none of it magically appeared in there, but some brave soul dared travel into the dark abyss that is the grocery store. Navigating those daunting aisles full of grown, professional supermarket shoppers can be intimidating at first.
And so can the endless options of brands and prices, and the awful temptation of sugary sweets.
The first time I wrangled the grocery store by myself, I don’t think I returned with anything that was, you know, actually good for my health. I ventured back to those hallowed store halls (excuse the dramatics) with a mission — a health-crazed mission.
Various fruits and vegetables and the most expensive rice cakes I have ever seen piled onto the checkout counter and into my fridge and cabinets. That is until I realized I still hadn’t shopped correctly.
You can’t eat strawberries and rice cakes for three meals a day; trust me, I’ve tried. The balance of fun junk food, fruits and veggies and items like pasta that actually make up meals, is a rough scale to even out, and sadly, enough takes practice and a budget.
On a more positive note, you will be eternally grateful when you go home to visit your parents and have the magical cupboard with copious amounts of food back in your reach.
4. Your roommate may be your best friend, but he or she will still drive you absolutely insane.
Roommates aren’t as bad as they seem. You get to borrow each other’s clothes, vent out your day’s frustrations to someone when you get home and you slowly find yourself becoming closer to someone who, at one point, was a stranger.
And, then, you realize you breathe, eat and sleep in the same space every single day and night, and try not to step on his or her massive piles of dirty laundry on your way out of the house.
Okay, so you love your roommate, but he or she also drives you completely bonkers with all the shenanigans he or she has and will get you into.
No, I do not want to let you have a guest over, only so I can hear the passionate noises of love making as I try my hardest to fall asleep because tomorrow I have a full day with way too much work to do.
Sorry to burst your bubble. But yes, I still love you anyway. And why’s that? Because best friends are a nuisance. A beautiful, lovely, shoot-me-in-the-brains nuisance.
5. No one knows you; this is the time to start fresh and be the person you’ve always wanted.
This is so cheesy it hurts my soul, but also so painfully true. A close second to fleeing the country, moving out of state is one of the cleanest slates you could possibly give yourself.
It’s a comforting and stressful concept wrapped in one mega-cool package of new surroundings and new people.
After high school, you won’t meet a single person who cares if you were prom queen, or if you faded into the background and found yourself on the lowest quadrant of the social hierarchy.
But, have you always had a secret desire to show the world that maybe you’re worth a little more than a half-hearted nod in a crowded, smelly school hallway? Do it!
No one can stop you; no one can tell you it’s not who you are because, like I said before, moving out of state is a clean slate.
More importantly, change in yourself can only happen if you want it and you allow for it. So, allow yourself to be whoever is going to make you happy. A happy you is the most beautiful you.
6. But because no one knows you, their tolerance and patience with you is a lot thinner.
You know how your best friend and family love you unconditionally, no matter what ridiculously stupid things you’ve done or are guaranteed to do?
Yeah, apparently the entire world doesn’t operate on that same principle.
Everyone back at home is willing to turn their heads or even let you act like a total ass from time to time because they’ve been around you long enough to know all your good qualities as well.
In a new environment in a new state, this is not the case. When someone you hardly know gets all pissy and tries to cop an attitude, it’s obnoxious. If someone finds you obnoxious, he or she will do everything in his or her power to avoid you like the plague.
Moral of the story: Don’t push anyone’s buttons. At least let them get to know you better before you play that game.
7. Learning new public transportation is not easy.
“All you have to do is walk to Union Square, go down into the subway, hop onto a Q train, and ride it four stops uptown.” I’m sorry, what?
I hardly knew how to take the bus back at home, let alone walk a few blocks to a busy subway station and get on a train going in what direction?
While it is frustrating at first, you get the hang of it quickly. Thanks to smartphones, so many states and cities have apps that give you detailed directions for getting around with public transportation, anyway.
You’re guaranteed to be a pro after a month or so, and eventually, you’ll be writing directions on someone’s hand so they know where they’re going.
You’ll just have to get lost a good four, or 20, times before you’re actually good at getting around a new city.
8. You're going to meet a ton of people with different political views than you; learn how to argue.
No two towns are similar in appearance or in the behavior of people.
Each state and every city is so unique in views of the world, and I, unfortunately, learned that the hard way when I had one of my first politically-sparked debates.
You know how, more or less, everyone from your hometown had the same ideas and beliefs? Moving somewhere new exposes you to a whole group of people who stand for things you thought were only myths.
That means keeping your cool and explaining your opinion as calmly as possible, and even backing up ideas with logical proof if possible. And, unfortunately, sometimes that still isn’t enough for someone.
Well, at least you tried. Next time, maybe save the topic of politics for the second date.
9. Don’t look back.
Especially in your first couple months or year away. There’s nothing wrong with visiting home and catching up with people, but if you plan trip after trip back to your hometown, you’ll be paralyzed with fear and never move forward.
Most people move away (especially out of state) because they’re looking for something new and hoping to find some excitement and opportunities.
Dwelling on the past and where you’ve come from does nothing to help advance to where you want to be for your future.
And, yes, the first year away is hard in so many ways, but you made the decision to move for a reason. Be confident that everything will work out and be okay.
10. Even miles and miles away, you'll forever be dependent on Mom and Dad.
Ah, yes, the givers of life: Mother and Father. Where would you be without them? Honest answer: Probably dumpster diving and living in a cardboard box in a back alley.
When you first move away, you go insane with the power and freedom of independence, but the feeling quickly wears off when you realize no one's there to share your discoveries of the world with.
When you realize that after having a bad day, you can’t rest your head in your mom’s lap like you did as a 3-year-old, life takes a sort of sad turn.
But, it’ll all come full circle, right? And when you remember to make those phone calls home, it feels special to be able to talk to someone who understands you unlike anyone else.
Don’t ever take your parental figures for granted; they’re kind of the coolest people you’ll ever meet, especially when they bail you out of financial difficulties -- even from out of state and all the way across the country.