What I Learned When I Moved Halfway Across the Country on a Whim

I am a nester. Having a “home,” in every sense of the word, is essential to my emotional well-being and happiness. I recognize that feelings of home take time to develop and grow, but in 2013, after two years of living in Washington, DC, I had had enough of waiting. I wanted out.

I truly believe that cities, like people, have personalities; DC and I were just two people who tolerated each other because of mutual friends but sat in awkward silence if left alone. I found the frantic energy of the city exhausting and the politi-bros annoying. The difficulty in getting away (if you didn’t have a car) made me feel trapped and claustrophobic. My best friend lived three miles away and we had to WORK to see each other every two weeks, at best. The transience of DC’s residents was always vaguely unsettling. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t shake the feeling of restlessness and out-of-placeness.

A few of my best friends were living in Texas, and I always loved visiting them there. 2013 hadsunset-258930_640 been a difficult year for me; I would fly down for weekends as a very expensive (albeit, unsustainable) distraction and always felt simultaneously re-energized and calmed by my visits. My job had also involved working with a lot of Oil & Gas companies, and so I’d established a pretty good network down in Houston. I had talked abstractly about maybe moving there on and off for years, but in October, when my roommate texted me to ask if I knew of any housing options for a friend of hers, I made my decision.

She could take over my lease. I was moving to Texas.

When you decide to turn the reigns over to your heart and gut in making a huge, life-altering decision, you will need to move swiftly and decisively. You will need to ride that adrenaline rush like a wave before it ebbs and your brain starts to give you a lot of very good reasons to back out. Within the span of two months, I signed over my lease, quit my job, found an apartment in Houston, and bought a car. I also ran a marathon and got bangs and went sky-diving. I may have gotten slightly carried away.

When you announce to your friends and family that you are moving halfway across the country after frankly less deliberation than your last takeout order, they will look at you blankly for a few seconds before realizing you’re not kidding. They will tell you that it’s a very brave thing to do but gently suggest that perhaps you’ve lost it. I stated firmly and often that this was something I felt like I needed to do for me, and that I was very, very excited. Most people were supportive, and it made me sad to leave them. Some were not, and I felt relieved that I wouldn’t have to waste my energy on them. I had stuff to pack and bangs to maintain!

When the enormity of your decision sinks in about a month after your move and your “new normal” becomes a reality, you will start to fear you’d made a terrible mistake. You will wonder if you are stupid and reckless, if you will ever stop desperately missing the friends and family you left behind. I cried to my father and told him I’d made a huge mistake and also that I had peaked in high school. My brain was short-circuiting and these two things seemed related at the time.

When the panic and second-thoughts subside, you will realize that it is not your heart, but your brain that is sabotaging you from within. You will start to trust your decision again and let yourself ease into your new life like a warm bubble bath. You will feel different, better, and it will show. People asked me if I had done something new with my hair and told me that my voice sounded different. I felt warm and glow-y, and not just because my pale, DC-winter skin got an immediate sunburn. It was because I was finally living in a city whose personality truly complemented mine.

Texas and I became fast friends. I learned that I need the laid-back atmosphere and “can-do” attitude that pervades Houston. That I like the weather and the flat land that seems to stretch to forever. That a really, really good margarita can increase my overall happiness by about 30%. That my restlessness went away when I felt my heartbeat sync with the pulse of my city’s energy. That trusting your gut and leaning into some Grade-A Crazy can really, really work.

Post by Jenna Mullady (CLAS ’11) 

Read More: College

Thoughts on “What I Learned When I Moved Halfway Across the Country on a Whim

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