When I decided to move over 700 miles across the country to start a new life, the choice was completely intimidating.
It wasn’t the distance that scared me, but more the fact that I was leaving a place where I’d spent my entire life and was headed to a large town, located in a state I hadn’t even visited before and knew nothing about.
Seeing as I grew up in a small farm town, everyone knew my name, along with my parents and grandparents and where I lived. Walking down Main Street meant running into at least a dozen people I knew and talking about everything under the sun. This may sound strange to some, but I’d lived this quiet life for my entire 41 years, and it’s all I knew.
Suddenly I found myself plunked down in the middle of a huge, busy town, where the only person I knew was my fiancee, David, who was gone at work for over 12 hours a day.
At first I tried to keep busy running errands. I filled my days with running and purchasing things for our new apartment and life together. Although I was on the go a lot, I still had downtime where I thought a lot about home—wondering what my family and the people I’d always run into were doing. I kept a smile on my face, but realized quickly that I was miserable.
Major life changes can be tricky for anyone, but for a person who suffers from anxiety disorder, it can be overwhelming. I began to take it out on David. I wasn’t mad at him, just jealous that he had work, friends and family close by, because I felt like I had nothing. I missed my quiet life, my horses, dogs and family.
Finally, one afternoon I had long phone conversations with my sister and my mom. They are both extremely positive people who seem to find happiness in all situations. I was surprised that they both had the same advice for me; stop feeling sorry for myself and to make the most of my situation.
I was the one who made the decision to move. It wasn’t right to be angry with anyone but myself for my choice. Instead of feeling stuck in a strange place, I needed to change my thinking and accept that this was my life now. One of my mom’s favorite sayings is “bloom where you are planted,” meaning that we can shine wherever we are and in any situation, if we just decide to.
From that day on, my life began to brighten. Yes, I still completely missed my family, but with modern technology I could FaceTime, text or call them any time. I started going to the gym instead of running at home. Instead of feeling lonely, I poured my energy into making large meals and doing special things for David. This not only thrilled him but made me feel completely different about my new life.
Soon this town where I’d felt trapped became my home. I even went back to Michigan to visit my family and although it was an amazing trip, within a few days I found myself missing my apartment and new lifestyle. When we returned from our vacation, our neighbors stopped to visit me because they’d missing seeing me around.
It’s amazing how things can turn around as soon as we change our mind and thoughts. Although I still spend my daytime hours alone, I’ve learned to love this time. I’ve become a part of this little apartment community I now consider home, all because I decided to think positively, which ultimately led me to be able to “bloom where I was planted.”
I’ve learned that my first response is naturally to be negative and that I have to really work at having a more optimistic outlook but it’s something that I’ve vowed to continue doing.
Anyone can do this. If you find yourself faced with a life-altering decision, or are just having a bad day, when the world seems to be stacked against you—change your thoughts. A positive mind leads to happy living and we are all capable of doing this on our own.
Whether it means compiling a list of things you are thankful for, finding an activity that brings you happiness or just simply changing your thoughts to positivity—life is short. Stand by your decisions, smile more and “bloom where you are planted.”
Author: Jill Carr
Image: flickr/Knar Bedian
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock