The 8 things you’ll experience when you tell people you’re moving
Moving is a natural part of growing into this life of ours. It’s how we stretch ourselves, expand networks, have new experiences, and compile fun stories to tell our grandchildren about that “one summer abroad” in college.
I didn’t expect to leave my current home in San Francisco for quite some time, but when I learned I was accepted into graduate school at The London School of Economics, I was ecstatic. Naturally, I turned to social media to share my big news. Amidst the kudos and congratulations, one question kept coming up: “Does this mean that you’re moving to London?”
Yes, I’ll be hopping across the pond to the land of bad food, British royalty, double-decker buses and rain come August. But there’s just one problem: I told people in January about my plans. That’s a long runway for any change announcement, and if I could do it differently with a shorter announcement period, I would have.
You see, when you tell people you’re moving, you’re going to experience some very new emotions and situations that you may not be prepared for. I know I wasn’t. I talk a big game, but…that game is just words, and words don’t prepare you for the following things you’ll experience when you tell people you’re moving.
One: People stop inviting you to things.
I haven’t scientifically measured this, but my invitations to general parties and events have dropped by about 30% since I announced I was moving. Close friends still reach out, but it’s as if I were already gone to my general acquaintance-sphere.
This all means one of four things:
Everyone thinks you’re out of town already
Since bullet #1 requires careful consideration of your life plans (which we know is top of mind for everybody else, duh), let’s consider the possibility that you could just be out of sight, out of mind
You and your friends got old and there’s just less events happening in general
You’ve been a real asshole lately
My advice: Be ready for it, and don’t take it personally. (Unless you’ve been a real asshole lately).
Two: Be prepared to repeat your moving plans. A lot.
If you do manage to snag an invite to something and decide to go, you’ll hear the following at least a dozen times: “Oh my god, I thought you moved already?!”
Nope. Still here.
This is then followed by the inevitable question of when you’re moving or (even worse) when you got back. As if I’d somehow moved to London and back in the span of a quarter.
And everytime you hang out with those you do happen to be closer with, they will ask what’s new with the move. Except…it’s a move. It’s a static event at some point far in the future so there aren’t going to be any new developments.
My advice: Develop a stock answer that you can quickly deliver to move the conversation along to more interesting topics.
Three: You’ll be flooded with memories of things you thought you had forgotten.
The good experiences come back in equal parts with the painful. You walk the same streets with a sienna lens, recalling the time when everything was new and shiny and full of possibility. Every strong memory from a time before bursts into your consciousness to make a claim for a starring role. The corner you walk by every day on your way to work suddenly morphs into the corner where he broke up with you for the first time — something you hadn’t thought about in years. The swing in the park that you see all the time is now the swing you sat on during a rainstorm on Memorial Day and cried to your roommate. The wine shop you have happy hour at on Fridays is suddenly a symbol of hope, reminding you of how you felt when you entered it for the first time, the first Friday ever in your new city, because this was the first time you knew it was going to be okay because look — you already have friends to go to a wine bar with!
My advice: This will happen over and over and over again. You may want to die of nostalgia, but lucky for us nostalgia is not yet a fatal condition. Rather, it reinforces that old saying my Grandma always quoted that means a whole lot more to me these days: Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
Four: You no longer want to invest time in dating or making new friends.
When you view your time as limited, you become much more strategic in how you use it. (That’s probably good life advice in general). Accepting dates doesn’t make a lot of sense when — even if we do end up hitting it off — I’ll just be moving in a few months. That time on a date with a stranger is time better spent preparing for school or hanging out with friends. So I find myself saying “no” to perfectly nice gentlemen to whom I would’ve said “yes” just a few short months ago.
This also applies to platonically-inclined people you meet. These are the people you know that you’d love to get to know better if circumstances were different. However, time with them takes time away from those in the inner circle, so forget about pursuing new friendships.
My advice: It may feel like you’ve become set in your ways, but recognize it’s just a way to preserve energy and focus attention on the things that truly matter.
Five: There’s a fire to drink the nectar only your city can offer.
In San Francisco, that means fernet and wine country.
In all seriousness, I used to take for granted the access we have here to the ocean, to stunning hikes, to culture at my fingertips, to a wonderfully wacky and beautifully diverse city, and yes — to wine country. In the past, whenever I was too busy or too tired or whatever the excuse of the hour was to go out and enjoy San Francisco, I told myself it was okay. There will always be next weekend.
Except now there’s a clock, ticking down the time backwards, that makes me panic just a little. I suppose the clock has always been there, for all of us. But instead of marking the seconds with a faint whisper in the background, it’s more like a hammer drilling a nail. Each. Second. Counts.
My advice: Make a city bucket list, then aggressively attack it.
Six: You realize just how much you’re going to miss your best friends.
This is the one that gets me every damn time.
When I first moved to San Francisco, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make friends. I’m quite introverted, so let’s just say socializing has never been my forte. Every day, I made a conscious choice to put myself out there, and worked really hard on building a network and investing the time it takes to truly get to know someone and be a good friend in return. I had to overcome a lot of self-doubt in doing so (am i fun enough? interesting enough? cool enough to hang out with?), but that effort has paid for itself seven times over. I now have the most amazing network of inspiring, silly, driven, and generous people that I’m lucky enough to call my friends.
What’s going to happen when we’re in utterly different time zones so I’m late by 8 hours on all the gossip in the group text message thread? Who will do emergency happy hour with me? Who will fork over a lot of dough to go to a gala just because we want to wear sparkly dresses? Who will do all the planning for weekend getaways because they know I’m terrible at it? Whose couch will I crawl up on after a long week with a glass of wine and a request to watch Lifetime movies? Who will all rally to come to my dinner parties because I love cooking for large groups?
But I also know I had those doubts about leaving my friends in Seattle when I moved to San Francisco, and I realized I could keep my Seattle friends close while getting to experience all the joy of those I met in San Francisco. I hope London will be the same.
My advice: Cherish your time together, and hold these people close to your heart. And don’t let your fear of missing your friends or ability to make new ones hold you back from moving. You’ll miss out on so much potential joy if you do so.
Seven: You’ll worry about everything working out. Then worry some more.
What if I can’t sell my stuff in time? What if I hate it over there? What if my visa doesn’t come through? What if…what if…what if?
It’s a spiral if you let it become one. 40% of the time I dwell on it; 40% of the time I push it off because it’s something I can do in the theoretical tomorrow; and the other 20% of the time I remind myself I’m a competent human being and many before me have successfully navigated trans-continental moves.
My advice: Meditation helps, and take to heart the idea that if you can’t change something, then don’t worry about it. And if you can change something, then don’t worry about it.
Eight: You realize all good things come to an end, and that’s okay.
San Francisco, how do I begin to say “thank you” for everything? You gave me the best experiences of my life. You gave me sunshine. You gave me heartbreak that led to growth. You inspired me daily with the people who flock to live within your boundaries and are doing things that are truly changing the world. You taught me what a costume box was, and that you can never have too many tutus.
You taught me how to grow into my confidence and abilities professionally. You taught me how to throw a mean right uppercut. You taught me that you can have multiple lives within one city. You taught me how to expect more. You taught me to spend money on experiences, not things (except rent, which is like WTF outrageous).
You taught me to expect more. You taught me that good enough shouldn’t be good enough. You opened my sphere of existence to INCREDIBLE humans I wouldn’t have otherwise met — the very same people who pushed me and challenged me to leave because I’d outgrown this phase of my SF existence.
My advice: Don’t ever, for a second, take your city for granted. There’s always something irreplaceable each place you live owns in your heart.