Two months out of college I landed my first job. I was to be a reporter for a small newspaper – exactly what I went to school to become. I was excited, thankful and scared because I knew that moving from St. Paul, Minnesota to Sioux City, Iowa meant was going to be living by myself, in a new state, without knowing a soul.
My new job took me four hours away from some of the best friends I had ever met, and five-and-a-half hours away from my family.
The loneliness set in hard and fast. I can’t remember if I cried that first night in my new apartment or not. I do know there were many other nights that I did cry. I missed my friends terribly and struggled to find my place in my new community. I tried attending various young adult events, but still struggled to find good friends. I worried about missing out on things with my friends back home and wondered if they even missed me.
My friends and I didn’t lose touch, despite my fears. We regularly shared phone calls, talking long into the evening or on Sunday afternoons. In a way, the distance actually helped me get to know some of my friends more deeply as they shared their joys and struggles through our one-on-one conversations. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in those things before, it’s just that sometimes the circumstances of hanging out aren’t attuned to deep, personal conversations.
While that time was definitely hard, I am so thankful for it. During those two years in my new city, I was stretched, loved and educated in “real world” situations. I still keep in touch with some of the people I met there, years after I moved away.
The time spent maintaining old friendships was great training ground for when I began dating my husband. We had a long distance relationship up until three months before our wedding. From the long chats and even longer road trips to visit my friends, I knew that dating Adam would require sacrifice. However, I also knew the time and energy that maintaining such a relationship requires would lead to a greater commitment to each other. Instead of withering away, our relationship flowered despite the distance between us.
That first big move also prepped me for a life of staying connected to friends and family after Adam and I got married. While we do have so many wonderful friends in our current city, we live six hours from my family and over seven hours from my husband’s family. Our closest college friends are two hours away, but most are four or more.
Thankfully, keeping up with friends and family isn’t as hard as it once was. With social media and text messaging the challenge isn’t staying in touch, but truly connecting beyond the pretty pictures and auto-corrected messages. Taking the time to write letters, spend money on Christmas cards, or clear my schedule for a phone call with a friend is always time well spent because these are the relationships that renew me, build me up and give me life.
Leaving what I knew was scary the first time around, but it helped me open myself up to the possibility of new relationships and experiences. Moving, just like anything in life, is an adventure into the unknown. I’m glad I took those first few steps because they prepared me for the journey.