I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have struggled with my recent move. I knew it would be a tough transition for me, but I just didn’t know how tough it would be. I felt as if I prepared myself as much as I could; from other moves (and especially from my move to college when I was 18), I knew I would struggle. But you can’t know how much you will struggle, how hard it will be, how intense the feelings will feel, until you are in it. Until you are living through the anxiety and the fear.
This change was hard. It was so hard.
And when you’re 27 years old and have just moved out on your own for the first time, and crying because you miss your mom and you miss your old environment and everything feels so new and different and strange?
It’s hard to give yourself grace.
It’s hard to not feel as if you’ve failed at life somehow.
It didn’t help that my roommate was doing juuuuust fine with the move. She was bubbly and happy and so excited to live with a roommate after a year of living on her own. She’s one of those people who thrives wherever they are. College? Not a problem. New city where she know nobody? No biggie, she easily finds her social groove. She’s four years younger than me, and the fact that she handles change wayyyyy better than I ever will is a little demoralizing.
During the first few days after the move, it was hard not to spiral down into an existential crisis. I got lost in the “How Will I…” game. How will I ever be able to live on my own if living with a roommate – someone I dearly love! – is such a hard change? How will I ever be able to handle moving in with a partner, if the time ever comes for that? From there, it morphed to worrying about something happening to Dutch or my mom, my lifelines during this time. It’s a scary slippery slope when the mind turns on you like that. I was reminded of my first few weeks of living on campus in college and how much I struggled with the transition. I thought, with this move, I would handle the change better because I was older and wiser and good god, 27 years old, time to stop living with mommy! And yet… here I was… nearly 10 years later and still struggling.
Oh, the mind. It’s a scary place to be when you’re in the trenches.
What was most helpful for me during this time was talking it out and indulging in self-care habits.
I talked it out with friends, I called my mom daily just to talk, and I even let my roommate in on my struggles. I was nervous to do so because I thought she might think I was lame for struggling. But she offered me grace when I couldn’t give myself it. She offered me peace when my mind was in chaos. And she offered me the light bulb moment I needed when she told me that change is my trigger. For her, change isn’t a trigger, but for me, it is.
It was as if I could finally allow myself the grace and compassion I needed. It’s a trigger. It’s not a personality flaw. It’s not me being a baby. It’s just my trigger. For me, big change such as this causes huge issues with my anxiety. It causes something that I can generally control on a day-to-day basis to rear its ugly head and overwhelm me with feelings. I could finally say to myself, “This is your anxiety talking. You will be okay. You will make it through. You just have to sit here for a while and be sad and cry a bunch and wait for the tide to pass.”
This too shall pass. It’s cliche, but I want that tattooed on my body because it’s so hard to remember that when you’re in the gauntlet of emotion and hardship. This too shall pass.
You will get through it. Life will be different – not bad different, not good different, just different. You will survive. You will thrive. This too shall pass.
Also, self-care. I’m a big proponent of self-care because I’ve seen the magic it has worked in my own life. Without self-care habits, I’m not sure I would understand myself as well as I do. My self-care habits after the move included daily bubble baths, reading light and fluffy romance novels, indulging in all the TV I needed, and allowing myself junk food. I’ll admit, some of these habits aren’t the most healthy, but it’s what kept me sane during the few weeks of turmoil. I needed them to find my way out of the gauntlet. Self-care habits, get you some.
I wish I was more accepting of change, but I’m not. As a highly sensitive person, I place high value on comfortable environments. And with such a huge shake-up to my living situation, it overwhelmed my senses and opened me up to anxiety and panic attacks. But it’s been seven weeks since the move, and home is starting to feel like home. I’m happy here. I feel joy when I step inside my apartment. I’m comfortable with this little life I’m building for myself in Tampa.
I know more change is on the horizon. It’s already happened with losing one of the most important people in my life. I’ll lose more important people. I’ll switch jobs (hopefully not anytime soon, though). I’ll maybe even find a partner to build a home with. It’s all going to be hard. As long as I acknowledge that it’s okay that it’s difficult for me and that I allow myself the grace to adjust to the change, I think I’ll be just fine.
How do you feel about change?