New City, New You: What You Learn From Living In A Different Environment

by Elyssa Carr

I’ve traveled a lot in my life and have lived in many different places. All of my different locations — with unique cultures that offer different foods, people and customs — have taught me more about who I am and who I aspire to become. Looking back, I now understand that it wasn’t anything specific about any place that changed me, but rather, it was the search to find my place in a new city.

When you live somewhere new, you navigate emotions that range from fear to excitement. You attempt to find your niche in this new world while working to make sense of the new life you’re paving.  All at once, you try to make new friends, explore new places and try new things. There is something about moving to a new city (even one with which you are familiar) that can feel like an endless cycle of discomfort. But this is a good thing — it promotes growth.

How to be alone

There is nothing scarier than finding yourself completely alone with your thoughts and your insecurities. But, there is also something wonderful about sitting alone in a coffee shop or an outdoor restaurant, watching people pass. At first, it can feel intimidating to be alone, contemplating all the things people may be judging about you, but eventually, you’ll grow comfortable and begin to enjoy the solidarity.

How to make new friends

This may be an obvious step of living in a new city, but it’s probably also the most important. This skill goes hand-in-hand with learning to be alone, as it makes you more approachable. When you live in a new city, you must relearn how to introduce yourself to new people, how to create friendships and how to relate to others.

How to make decisions

It’s refreshing only to have to worry about yourself and about what you specifically want to do, but it’s also terrifying. Moving to a new city is a lot like going to college — you begin to learn how to make your own decisions. In addition to choosing an apartment, you must also decide on things, like whether or not to go out or stay in on a Friday night. Your choices should reflect what you want, not what others want you to do.

What is important to you?

Moving to a new city forces you to shape and sculpt yourself. You no longer need to rely on your college sport or sorority to define who you are. Instead, you can choose what is truly important to begin to form an understanding of the type of person you want to be. You begin to sort the trivial aspects of your life from what is truly important. Sometimes, you’ll end up embracing parts of your life to which you never before paid much attention.

Who is important to you?

Just as it is important to understand what is important to you, it’s also important to realize who is important to you. Distancing yourself from the people with whom you once spent your days will push you to make choices regarding with whom you will continue to share your life. Maybe it is just part of growing up, but it’s no longer so easy to maintain your old friendships. Now, you must make time for those people who are of the utmost importance to you, and leave behind those who are not.

Let go

When you come to a new city, you must let go of the people, places and things that existed in your previous life. Things get left behind. It’s difficult to look back on your life in your childhood home, your college town or your last city knowing you have to leave all the quirks behind. When you move from one place you love to a new city, you must learn to let go of certain things and people to make room for the new.

Photo credit NYC Gov Tumblr