Four days before I graduated from college, I was offered a job 500 miles away in Washington, DC.
I grew up less than two hours away from Boston and lived in the city for five years while at school. Living in Boston was a big change from growing up in a sleepy seaside town, but it was a city I had been visiting every year since I could remember, so it didn't take long for it to feel like home.
When I was given the offer in a city I hadn't visited since my eighth grade school trip, I was excited but nervous about moving away from home.
Although my time in a new place was filled with ups and downs, there are four reasons I think every 20-something needs to pack up, hit the road and settle in a strange place.
1. Only you know what's right for you.
When I was sent my job offer, I had 48 hours to respond. Two days might seem like a reasonable request, but it was stressful as hell.
What if I don't like the job? What if I hate the city? Who will watch the Patriots with me? There were so many unanswered questions, I began to feel like it was better to stay in the comfort of my city and wait until I got a job closer to home.
To help make my decision, I looked for advice in every area of my life. I asked my friends, family and co-workers what they thought I should do.
Most of the responses were along the lines of,“I think you should do what's right, but it sounds like an amazing opportunity.”
I learned about past regrets of those closest to me -- jobs they wished they had taken, moves they wished they had made.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was a chance that I should take. It was the closest thing to a dream job I had seen, and I knew I would always wonder “what if” if I didn't take it. So I signed that offer letter, packed up my belongings and set off on a new adventure.
2. You learn how to make friends.
It took moving to a brand new place for me to realize I had met probably 90 percent of my friends through school.
Once you're an “adult” (is 25 considered an adult? I hope not), you either meet friends through work or some social sports league that your mom's friend recommended because her daughter met SO many people that way.
I'll tell you the truth: It's going to suck at first. You're going to eat lunch alone a few times (or for the first month), you'll spend more time with your Netflix than actual people and there will be a lot of nights that you mask your loneliness with too much ice cream and wine (who says Ben & Jerry's can't be your friend?!).
If there's one piece of advice I can give you, it's to just say "yes." It's easy to make up excuses for why you can't join the office happy hour -- but who are you kidding? You're not going to the gym, you're going to lie in bed for two hours scrolling through Instagram while eating a bowl of Kraft Mac & Cheese.
I don't think I regretted one day I pulled myself out of bed to grab dinner with a new friend or explore the city. You'll never make friends if you wallow in your sorrow of being lonely. When you get out there and meet people, this once-unfamiliar place will feel like home much more quickly.
3. You become independent.
The first apartment I rented in the DC area was a one-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a nice neighborhood. It was my first time living alone, which came with its own set of challenges.
There was the time when my area was under a tornado warning, so I did what any other 23-year-old girl would do -- strap on my bike helmet, grab as many pillows as I could find and hide in my walk-in closet (give me a break, there are rarely ever tornadoes in Massachusetts).
Or, there was that time when I saw a giant centipede traipsing across my wall but scurried away when I tried to kill it. That was a fun week-long period of being on the edge of my seat until I finally killed it.
Over time, I become more self-sufficient. I didn't need to call my parents every night that I was lonely or text my boyfriend each time something frustrating happened at work.
I began to feel a new, freeing sense of independence that I had lacked living so close to home.
4. Change is uncomfortable, but necessary.
You can live your whole life making the easy choices -- to stay at the job you're indifferent about, to settle for a significant other because you don't want to be alone, to say no to risks and adventures.
Or you can make the decision to shake things up, to go with the choice that will flip your world upside down. I encourage you to (safely) choose the second option.
Living in a new town, city, state or country will inevitably come with some hard times. You'll be lonely some nights, get lost walking the streets and miss out on memories back home.But you need to dust yourself off, remind yourself why you chose to move and get out there and live the greatest life you can. Learn from all your mistakes, then grow from them.
Use them as an opportunity to discover yourself and become a better person. I promise you, you won't regret it.
Moving to a brand new city gave me insight that I may have never had the opportunity to gain.
Over the summer, I moved back to Boston. I loved my time in DC, but I knew it was time for me to return to the city of Tom Brady-worshippers, where I can use “wicked” without confused looks and embark on the next chapter with a new appreciation for my hometown.