Maybe the best and worst thing about time is that you can get used to anything. A new hair color. A new workout routine. A new place. A good relationship or a shitty relationship. A job that is challenging, or a job that is mundane.
You can get used to staying where you are, or you can get used to picking up, starting fresh, and trying new things. And when you choose the latter, you inevitably grow as a person.
The last few months have been a period of extreme growth for me.
Why, you ask? Well, I did things that made me uncomfortable. I moved to a new city for an internship. I didn’t know anyone or anything about the job I would be doing. I didn’t know a thing about Milwaukee, and I was nervous about whether or not I would make friends.
For the first few weeks, I was uncomfortable as hell. I felt like I couldn’t get into a good routine and I didn’t know what I was doing. I questioned everything. I got mad. I ranted.
By the end of the summer, I was upset for the opposite reason. I had to leave. It seemed that as soon as I became accustomed to my new routine, I had to move on.
I went home and I moped. And then I packed my suitcase, and I started my next adventure.
I flew across the world to study for a semester. I didn’t know anything about my five roommates, my apartment, or what it would be like to live overseas. I didn’t know how to get around the city (I’m incredibly talented at getting lost) and I really didn’t know Italian.
And I was uncomfortable as hell. Again.
For the first month -yes a full month- I was uncharacteristically homesick. I have always been fiercely independent, but for those first four weeks, I felt like I couldn’t get my feet on the ground. I didn’t know if I made the right decision about studying abroad. I missed the familiarity of my college town, seeing my best friends every day, and even the Indiana countryside (something I had never missed before).
And suddenly, I got used to being in Florence. I liked being in Florence. Now that it’s time to return home, it’s breaking my heart that I have to leave.
But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? To get used to being uncomfortable. To push yourself onto the next adventure. To see life as a series of exciting events.
The thing about pushing yourself outside your comfort zone is that it makes you grow. You learn so much about who you are when you’re forced out of your element. Maybe you discover that there are a lot of things you like about yourself or maybe you find that you don’t like the way you’ve been living. Maybe you end up with more questions than answers, but even that is a good thing.
If you decide to do something out of your comfort zone -whether it’s moving to a new city, studying abroad, starting your own business, or signing up for a rock climbing club- you’re in for a challenging, yet rewarding experience. You will become frustrated and question yourself. You will probably cry. You will call your mom or your best friend and tell them you’re not sure what you got yourself into. And then suddenly, you’ll figure it out. You’ll meet people who are interesting and think differently than you do. You’ll mix up your daily routine. You’ll learn a new skill or realize something about yourself or about life that you didn’t know before.
A fresh start can occasionally feel like a slap in the face. It’s like life saying “Surprise! I bet you thought you had a handle on things but not anymore!” But having to leave a place, a person, a period in your life, can hurt just as much because you know that you have to keep moving forward. You’ll never be the same way that you are in that exact moment and that’s what makes change so difficult.
What I’m trying to say is that the end of a new experience can be just as painful as the beginning.
But once you get used to uprooting yourself and trying new things, I swear, you won’t be able to stop. You’ll become an adventure junkie. Because it feels good to have memories to ache for and stories to tell even if they don’t have poetic, graceful plot lines. Even if it hurts a little to think about them.
You get to experience that cycle of frustration, establishment, euphoria, and heartache for the people you met, the places you saw, the things you learned, and the times you laughed so hard your stomach ached, as many times as you dare if you let yourself.
Think of your life a series of adventures. And know that the discomfort you feel at the beginning of a new experience will be nothing compared to the heartbreak you’ll feel when it’s all over, and you move on to the next chapter.
It sounds terrible, right? Well it is. But it’s the best kind of terrible.
Go on then.