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Why You Should Move Around in Your 20s

8 Things I Learned From Moving Around in My 20s

Moving sucks, there is no way around it. As romantic as it may seem to escape your current life
and start anew, starting over has gotten significantly more difficult every time I've done it.

At 31, I've moved five times since college, all to places where I knew no one. I'm not alone;
because the job market was exceptionally difficult when we entered the workplace, millennials
were forced to move around for job opportunities, and in a career like mine in broadcast
journalism it's the nature of the business. What they don't tell you in journalism school: it's the
hardest thing about being in the business.

I had never heard of Mankato, MN, before I took off, driving eight hours with my mom to
interview for my first on-air television job after graduating college. I ended up taking the job, and
what a life-changing decision it would turn out to be. Little did I know Mankato was one of five
moves I would make in the next decade.

The moves spanned geographically, and would leave me a lot farther from my home in Chicago
than Mankato would. Here's what I learned about life from moving around in my 20s:

1. You're going to be lonely, and that's OK.

I come from a large family, five kids, one of whom is my identical twin sister and all of whom are
my best friends today. We had one shower in our home. You get the picture: I had never really
been alone until I moved away to Minnesota, and it was hard. Really hard.

I spent a lot of Friday and Saturday nights alone in my apartment crying, sometimes with some
wine to soothe the pain. With little disposable income, my hobbies were very limited and
included visiting the county library and an occasional night out with my coworkers.

The times of loneliness come and go, but the more I've moved, the easier it has become to
cope and adapt, and that came with learning how to enjoy spending time with myself. Just
remember, even if you are literally alone, you don't have to be lonely. Call a friend, call a family
member, do something to remind yourself that you're not alone.

2. It takes effort to make friends, and the older you get, the harder it is to make friends.

I am what I would consider an "introvert-extrovert." I am social, and I have the ability to make
friends, but in some cases I have lacked the confidence to put myself out there to new people.

I have been fortunate enough in all of my moves to meet coworkers who became confidants,
and later friends, but it always took effort, a kind of effort you didn't need in college. Not
everyone is going to like you, and certainly you're not going to click with everyone either, but it
starts by saying "yes" to invitations.

At times when you want to say "no" because you're tired, say "yes." If you feel insecure about not
knowing many people at the party, still go. Ask one of your coworkers who is from the area to go
for coffee or drinks to get to know the area more, and they may be able to introduce you to

Join a bible study, a running group, a yoga class, or whatever you are interested in, and have
the courage to go alone. It is hard to take the first step sometimes depending on your
personality, but know that the payoff could bring great reward such as a new best friend. It takes
a sincere effort to make friends postcollege that, at times, I didn't make, and I know I missed out
on meeting some great people.

3. Not everyone is meant to stay in your life forever.

Moving around means a lot of goodbyes. While the parties can be fun, saying goodbye we
know can be hard to do, especially when you know the chances of seeing some people again
are slim.

When I left home for a second time after college, a lot of my close friends stayed. Some of my
friends got married and started families, while others started careers and developed new lives
there. It was difficult coming home sometimes and seeing that I didn't have anything in common
with some of my old friends or that one of us had outgrown the relationship.

Saying goodbye to friendships can be hard, but sometimes it's necessary to break away in order
to move forward. Some friendships change and you won't be as close, you just have to know
when to say goodbye, when to adjust boundaries with people, and know that not everyone is
meant to stay in your life forever, and that's OK.

4. Volunteering will help you learn about the community.

In every town I've lived in, I have volunteered, mostly at homeless shelters because it was
something I was used to doing at home, but I made sure to find an organization or church to get
plugged into. I found that being connected and volunteering in the town I lived in made me feel
more like a part of the community, which made living there easier.

The people I met through volunteering were people I wouldn't have met otherwise, and it always
made me feel better knowing I could offer services to someone else, even if it was as simple as
typing up a résumé for someone.

Whatever it is you're passionate about or feel you can lend your skills to, find a local
organization that does that and reach out. I promise you won't regret it.

5. Stop being so hard on yourself.

Besides my geographical changes, at many times in my 20s, my life looked the same. Nothing
seemed to be moving forward; my romantic relationships, my finances, and my career all
seemed stagnant.

In the digital world we live in where everyone's life is on display, it's hard not to compare yourself
to everyone, even strangers. Too often because of the nature of the work I was in or the culture
that engulfs us, I allowed comparison to steal my joy. I was never good enough to have my
dream job, to be in a serious relationship, to be happy. I believed I didn't deserve.

I wish I could tell that 25-year-old to stop being so hard on herself and that failure is a part of
life, one that will make you stronger and more resilient. I can tell you, we have enough
negativity in this world as it is. Believe in yourself, keep working hard, and stop beating yourself
up for the things you cannot control.

6. You're going to be broke; a budget is necessary.

Saving for your future seems impossible when you're making less than $30,000. According to a
recent survey, the average millennial makes $35,592 per year. I was not one to work in jobs that
were lining my pockets, which meant learning a lot about living on a little, and unfortunately also
meant getting a credit card with high interest and maxing it out (still paying off that cute coat I had to have).

One thing I wish I would've done is learn about personal finances and credit score. There are so
many resources out there to help you manage your money, whether it's a budget app that tracks
what you are spending or a book that outlines how to do a budget. Everything is at your hands,
and usually for free, so take advantage of it.

If you aren't good at math and need help, ask a family member or a friend. It's important to start
budgeting before it's too late and your finances are out of control. I've been in that situation
plenty of times and it's not a fun place to be. Also, never pass up a 401(k) that your employer is
contributing to; retirement isn't that far off.

7. Dating isn't any easier in a new city.

I'm a hopeless romantic, even now as I am a perpetually single 31-year-old. In every city I've
lived in, I've found it more difficult to date than the last, even though I've gone into it thinking that "the bigger the city, the better the pool of options is."

Well, the bigger the pool of options is true for men, too. I've learned that it doesn't really matter
where you are, dating is hard now. While online dating is beneficial in many ways, people have
more options, which has made people more disposable and there isn't this urgency for
people to settle down and have a relationship.

Not to mention that people just aren't getting married as young. In the city I live in now,
Washington DC, it's taken to the extreme: recent data showed that 81 percent of young people were single.

Needless to say, I have learned the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Dating is
difficult no matter where you are; just stay true to who you are, know what you want, and be that
person you want to attract. (It's a process I'm still trying to figure out.)

8. Live in the present and enjoy the journey.

I can't tell you how much time I wasted worrying about the future. Countless hours wondering
what my next job looked like and worried why employers weren't getting back to me, always
looking at what was next instead of what was right in front of me.

I never really lived in the present, enjoying a moment just for what it was, no matter how
unhappy I may have thought I was. I know I would've been a lot happier had I stopped and been
grateful for what I had in those times. For the people I met, the experiences that made me who I
am today, and the history I got to witness. I wish I would've lived more in those moments, not for
the next ones.

Even though you may not be exactly where you want to be or where you thought you would be,
don't let that hold you back from living fully in this moment and this life. Life's about both the
peaks and the valley; try to find enjoyment even on your most challenging days.

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