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My main takeaways from the past year, after moving 1,403.2 miles from the comfort of my small Virginia mountain town to the big Austin city life, go as follows:
Although many people see vulnerability as a form of weakness, I have learned, and am still learning, that opening up your mind, heart, body, soul, and voice is essential to discover your true, authentic self.
The decision to pack my things and leave the place that I had called home for so many years was not by any means based on the fact that I was unhappy.
I lived with my best friend who was more like a sister, was surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and wonderful friends, had experienced some of the best live music on the East Coast, and had a decent paying job that fueled my passion for travel and adventure.
I’m also a positive person by nature and lived each day feeling happy and content.
Despite most of my needs being fulfilled, I had a constant feeling that would occasionally loom over me that something was missing, that I was missing out on something. I often wondered if my happiness and comfort was me taking the easy way out. I worried that I was failing to challenge myself.
But why should I consider upsetting the beautiful life I had created?
As time passed, I thought these feelings would subside—but they only grew stronger. I started to become angry with myself for not acting on these feelings or taking the leap my soul so clearly desired.
I realized that it was fear that had been holding me back, and I refused to let fear have control of my life. So I decided I would move to Austin, Texas. And shortly after I told my friends and family I was moving across the country alone, I started planning this big adventure.
It’s crazy how fear can pervade everything—where you live, your career choice, who your friends are, and what you do with your life. When you live in fear, you find the first solid, comfortable thing, and you don’t risk going any further.
Moving from my quaint mountain town, where everybody knows your name, to the flatlands and traffic-filled streets of Austin was not the most appealing at first. But good friends and a job that paid my way there sold me on the idea pretty fast.
I had everything planned out and had a perfect image of what my life was going to be like.
My first months in Austin were filled with an abundance of emotions. I laughed and smiled more than I can count and cried more than I would’ve liked to. I reconnected with some of my oldest and most wonderful friends and met some beautiful and incredible new ones, too.
I also had my heart broken and then found love all within the same month.
I two-stepped, bat-watched, went on lots of boats, and ate more tacos on a hungover Sunday than my stomach could handle.
I had my bike stolen, my car crashed, my phone broken, my identity jacked, and my clothes taken from the community laundry room at my apartment complex. And I slept on a hammock in my empty living room until I got furniture.
I got lost daily because the highways here would eat the streets of my small mountain town for dinner.
I had countless joyful, unplanned nights that I will never forget (well truthfully, some of which I don’t remember because I am still learning what an Austintini and expensive sake can really do to you).
All in all, I’ve started to love the city skyline (almost) as much as I love the Blue Ridge Mountains.
My heart (and liver) have gone through quite the roller coaster, but the more those lessons rained down, the more blessings I saw.
And I am now happy and thankful and grateful to be exactly where I need to be.
There’s only one “very good life” and you make it yourself—you create it yourself. This day will never ever come again and the sun will never shine quite as it does today.
So make the move, love the boy (or gal), sing the song, dance the dance, be scared, be terrified, hurt, love, cry, work hard, and live fully and fiercely and gracefully and sloppily and completely out of your comfort zone from time to time, because the fear and challenges and struggles are absolutely worth it.