Exactly one year ago today, I moved from my hometown of Bend, Oregon to Bozeman, Montana to pursue school. It had been a long time coming. I was so excited to finally get out of the town I was born and raised in and be the first one of my siblings to have a new adventure. It was such a new and exciting experience, packing and going on the last trips of the summer with all my lifelong friends, that I didn't fully realize what adjustments I was going to actually have to make. I don't think anyone can fully prepare mentally, emotionally, or physically to move 800 miles from the only place they have ever known. There have been so many ups and downs throughout these past twelve months, but I can honestly look back and say that I don't regret making the move. In fact, I know that it is the best decision I have ever made.
All that to say, here are 12 things I have learned over the past year.
1. The kitchen won't stock itself
This is something I most definitely took for granted living at home. You don't realize just how much it actually costs to well stock a fridge and pantry. Although I don't eat as much as a guy does, I now understand why my mom would always cut my brothers off at dinner.
2. Making friends is REALLY difficult
I always heard this from adults around me that once you're out of school, making friends becomes 100x more difficult. Unfortunately, it is just as true as they say. They aren't just built into my surroundings anymore. I have to actually go out and find ways to make friends through church, hobbies, or get together groups. It does get easier, but, dang, is it hard in the beginning.
3. Finding a place to live is extremely difficult
Being a young, 20-year old who had little credit history and no rental history, that made it extremely difficult to find a place to live. I actually had a place set up three weeks before I moved, and it fell through a couple days prior to getting on the airplane. Needless to say, I am grateful to have had a place to crash for a week until I found another house. I also am now working on the whole credit deal. ;)
4. You will get lost on the daily
Two words. One App. Google Maps.
5. You will cry. A LOT.
You are going to be totally overwhelmed with all you have to do by yourself and you will miss living at home like crazy the first few months. I think I cried almost every other day for a solid couple months mixed with many 2 a.m. phone calls and video chats home. It's totally normal and part of the process, though! Cry it out, call a friend, and get back up and keep trucking.
6. You will learn to pump your own gas
I know most of you grew up in a state where you had to do this anyway, but being an Oregonian, I never had to pump my own gas until I moved out to Montana. I am embarrassingly proud to be able to pump my own gas. You New Jersians and Oregonians know what I'm talking about!
7. Google Calendar will become your best friend
Let me just say, if you don't have some mechanism to remember everything on your to-do list, you WILL forget things. Its hard enough remembering what day it is, let alone having to remember to ask your boss if you can get off work early two weeks from Thursday to go to the dentist at 9:08 a.m. on the side of town you haven't been to yet. Take my advice, get yourself a calendar.
8. You will miss all the things that pushed you to leave home
Remember the way your brother would constantly pick on you or how the dogs would constantly lick your legs, hands, and face when you got home? You will miss that. You will want it back, not because you liked it, but because its a comforting reminder of home. Make the most of your time at home while you're there, cause you will miss it more than you think.
9. Being sick is the worst
I remember the first time I got sick after I moved. It was the worst experience knowing that I had no one to help make me my favorite smoothie, bring me cough drops, or just bring me a warm blanket. I had to actually get my nauseous self up and do all of it on my own. When you already feel and look like a zombie, it's not the most fun experience.
10. You feel exhausted all the time
Now, most of you already knew this, but I had never worked more than 30 hours in a week until I moved to Bozeman. Plus, I never had to pay rent or remember to get toilet paper or buy dog food. Life becomes a circus act of juggling sleep, eating, paying bills, having a social life, remembering to tell your brother happy birthday, and setting five alarms to make sure you aren't late to work. Finding a balance is difficult, but I promise is does get easier.
11. Life is so much more fulfilling
With all the new responsibilities you have, you are growing and learning how to balance this new way of life. Through being able to do something that once scared the crap out of you, like going to the dentist by yourself or walking into Costco without your mom, you will feel the most empowering, fulfilling, and confidence-boosting feelings you'll ever have experienced.
12. It will get better
Living on your own for the first time is no easy thing. There are so many new territories to cross into that are terrifying and overwhelming, but the more you do them the less overwhelming they are. Having lived on my own now for twelve months, I can finally say with confidence that I feel exponentially more confident and independent than I was a year ago. I know I still have so much more room for growth, but I am definitely well on my way.