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How I'm embracing an unknown city and an unknown future

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Image: Shutterstock: Markevich Maria

Alternative title: I don’t know what the hell I’m doing
If you’re anything like me, you are no stranger to the ample amount of anxiety felt when starting something new. Sure, it can be adventurous, exciting, even freeing, but it can also be completely and utterly terrifying. 
For most of my life, I was too afraid to make any big changes in my life. I wanted to live in a big city, but I didn’t know how I was going to make it work. Where would I work? Where would I live? Those questions left me so anxious that I decided to just live a life I was comfortable with. That is until one day when the reality of the life I had created bit me right in the ass.
One evening sitting alone in small-town rural Illinois, I realized I had a choice to make: I could either continue down this paved road of expectancy, or I could jump into a future completely unwritten. While it was a decision full of uncertainty and anxiety, I decided on the latter, and am all the better for it.
How I’m embracing an unknown city and an unknown future:

I call my mom, a lot

The older you get, the more you understand this little fact of life: your mom was right. I know, it makes me roll my eyes just typing it. But, then again, she already knew that.
I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of times I’ve called my mom up and unloaded all my anxieties and fears on her. When I first moved to Nashville, it didn’t take more than one whole day for my car to break down. After a few expletives and coming very close to a nervous breakdown, I took a deep breath and called my mom.
“Ellie, you will figure this out. There is always a way through.”
Her wise words helped calm my fears and reminded me to stop being over dramatic and just walk through it. I may be a grown woman, but I’m not too grown that I can’t seek comfort and reassurance from my mom when I need it most.

My Garmin never leaves my side

I’ll be honest with you: I have absolutely no sense of direction, especially in an unknown city. So as you can imagine, being alone in a new city is quite difficult for the directionally-challenged, such as myself. To make matters slightly more complicated, my commute to work involves several exit changes and ranges from 30-45 minutes if the traffic is flowing. But my handy-dandy Garmin GPS is constantly powered on, telling me in her monotone voice where to turn while I try and get the hang of my coffee routes.

I drink a lot

… of tea. See what I did there? While I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully give up my espresso habit, I am trying to cut down on the amount of caffeine and swap my afternoon Joe for a steaming hot cup of herbal tea. For the anxious person, caffeine can often be your worst enemy. Switching to (mostly) hot tea has really helped calm my nerves and relieve anxiety and helps me face the hustle and bustle of the city with a healthier mindset.

I treat myself

I am a big believer in the concept of self-love. In fact, I try and do something nice for myself not just once a week, but once a day. I know—this seems like it might get expensive. But here’s the trick: you don’t always have to spend money to treat yourself. A lot of time I think it’s a treat to just sit on the couch with my cat and watch New Girl reruns. Whether it’s taking time to just soak up some sun, spend time watching my favorite shows, or running into Target to just “browse,” the concept of treating myself for my hard work has paid off in helping me adjust to a new environment.

I’ve got “a place”

After exploring around a bit in an unknown city, I finally found my favorite coffee shop that I like to call “my place.” It’s a little cafe where I hope to one day be on a first name basis with the baristas. It’s a place where I feel comfortable sitting alone or with a friend, enjoying scrolling through Pinterest or catching up on some work. Whatever it may be, I have “a place,” and that makes me feel more at home here.

I try to get involved

Getting involved in your community is a quick way to meet new people who are interested in the same things you are. When you’re known to be fairly shy (again, me), getting to know new people can be quite the task. What I’ve learned from this whole experience is that sometimes you have to dive right in and see what could happen. Sometimes I will try and strike up conversation with people I’m standing next to at “my place.” Other times I look up things online that I’m interested in, such as yoga classes or wine tastings. The cool part about living in a big city is that there is usually something free going on, so it’s not too hard to get involved.

I don’t sweat the small stuff

Okay, I’ll admit, I don’t have a huge group of new friends here yet. But that’s okay! I’ve always been a big advocate of giving yourself grace and allowing life to take a natural course. As long as I’m doing my part and putting myself out there, I know that I will eventually find a group of people here that I can depend on. There’s no use in forcing anything. Life’s too short.

I remind myself who I am

Staying true to who you are, regardless of where you are, is vital to your health. You’ll never feel fulfilled in life if you are constantly sacrificing your values and beliefs for what others are expecting of you. If I’m not dedicated to myself and my beliefs, then what am I dedicated to? I try to take deep breaths whenever I’m feeling like I’m not living up to somebody else’s expectations of myself and remind myself that I am completely up to me, and no one can take that away from me.

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