I had the privilege of being in one of my best friend's weddings this weekend! It was a gorgeous ceremony at an antebellum home in Mississippi. They tied the knot under magnolia trees in the heart of the south and it was truly beautiful. After the vows, the reception kicked off and everyone had time to mix and mingle with old and new friends. One common thread in every conversation was the transition of seasons. Whether it be from college back home, from home to college, from college to a new town, from job to job or from school to more school - almost everyone was making a transition to something new. It got me thinking.
I have moved three times in the past year. I moved from Starkville to Nashville, Nashville to Greenville and then Greenville to Spartanburg all in less than 12 months. Usually when people move, you only see the highlight reel. No one really mentions that they sometimes get homesick, that it can take a while to get settled, that it is super expensive to furnish a house or apartment, or that making new friends is a scary and sometimes challenging thing. With all that being said, I have learned a few ways to make just about anywhere feel homey with a little effort. I thought I should share them with you since so many of us post-grad-ers are finding new homes all across the country and even though Instagram says otherwise, it isn't always easy or pretty!
Tips to Feel at Home
1. Create your spaces
The first thing I like to do is arrange, decorate and organize my room. The sooner you get rid of all the boxes, the better. If you are living out of suitcases and taking your sweet time to unpack, it will be really hard to feel settled. Just take an entire day to get your room exactly how you want it so that when you are stressed, tired or just want to relax, you have a calm, peaceful place to do it. The same thing goes for your living room. Candles, throw blankets and pictures of friends and family are a few of the personal touches that make my new place feel like an old place.
2. Find your places
If you are a creature of habit like me, you probably have a favorite restaurant, grocery store, gym or coffee shop. All of the places we visit regularly are a huge part of what make us feel comfortable. When you get to your new city, take a weekend to explore your area. I noticed that when I found the grocery store and gym that I liked near my place, I felt more at home. Since I go to these places often, it was nice to get familiar with them right off the bat.
3. Greet new faces
I get it. Making new friends is hard. Especially when you are a recent college graduate because making friends at a university seemed so easy. You are constantly surrounded by people in the same stage of life as you who have similar interests, but when you graduate it becomes a little harder to put yourself out there. A few ways that I have been able to meet new people are...
-Reaching out to people with whom I have mutual friends. Your college roommate's ex-boyfriend's sister's best friend's cousin may sound far removed from your life, but when you are both in a new state and looking to make friends, any little connection can help you form a friendship. Don't be afraid to make the first move!
-Getting to know the people at work. You have so much to talk about already! Chances are you are in the same field, have common goals, similar experiences and education backgrounds. Use these things to build relationships. It will make work even more fun and you may even find yourself calling them outside of your 9-5.
-Attending networking events. I know, it sounds lame, but hear me out. It can be so fun to go to events in your city and meet other young professionals. I have attended several American Advertising Federation meetings in GVL and it is always so fun to chat with new people and make connections in my industry.
-Keeping in touch with my old friends. I heard a saying once that stuck with me. It was, "You can never make new old friends". That is so true! While making new friends is important and necessary, it is even more important to maintain connections with your old friends. Texting or calling weekly and even FaceTime sessions are super easy ways to check in on your home team!
4. Join faith bases
For me, it is Christianity and a relationship with Jesus Christ. For you, it may be something entirely different, but finding a group of people who share your beliefs is so important. I have been on the hunt for a church family ever since I moved and I am super close to joining one. Community with people who want to encourage, uplift, confront and walk alongside you is invaluable. The sooner you find it, the better.
5. Avoid the races
Instagram and the internet have a way of making you feel like life is one big race. Who will get married, buy a house, get a job or finish school first? Let me tell you, life is so much more full when you stop playing comparison. Be content with what you have and where you are. If you are reading this post you are living, breathing and thinking, and those are pretty amazing things.
Your living room doesn't have to be perfectly styled. When it is filled with laughs no one will notice.
Your job won't be fun every day, but work at it as though you are working for the Lord and you can find joy in the small stuff.
Your grades won't be perfect, but your work ethic and determination can be.
You won't have something fun and glamorous to do every night of the week, but enjoy your alone time.
Celebrate the newness and thank God for a chapter that will bring infinite opportunities your way.
Home may be where the heart is, but I would challenge that your real home lies within your heart. The bricks, wood, cement and coordinates are just a way of life. Embrace it!
And let me be the first to welcome you to your new city, she is so ready to meet you!