In July of 2016, I moved across the country for a year by myself.
With one luggage in hand, I moved from New York City to the San Francisco Bay Area.
When strangers ask me why I moved, I give them the shorter version of the story. I tell them I moved for work.
The longer version, however, is simply because I wanted to.
Because I wanted to see who I really was.
At home, my identity was always attached to my surroundings, my friends, and my family. But what if I remove all of those things, then who’s left?
I wanted to know.
I wanted to see who I was outside of my comfort zone without my family and friends. I wanted to see what I was capable of and how far I was willing to go for my dreams.
And I learned a lot.
I learned how to disappoint people without losing respect.
When I first told my parents I wanted to move, they didn’t understand. They didn’t understand why I wanted to leave all my comforts behind. They didn’t understand why I didn’t want to be near them.
I told them it had nothing to do with them. I told them I would like to experience living somewhere else. I told them that I wanted to see the world.
They thought I was crazy.
But reluctantly they let me go. I’ll never forget the look on my dad’s face when I hopped into the taxi. It was an odd mixture of sadness, disbelief, shock, and pride.
I don’t know for sure, but something on his face told me he was kind of proud of me. Maybe he didn’t really think I had it in me but I did.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
When I first read these words, I didn’t understand them. Or, maybe I didn’t believe them.
But it’s true.
Everything worked out pretty smoothly for me after I moved.
I found an apartment within a week.
I became really good friends with the first person I ever spoke to in SF.
I asked for a bike and my coworker literally handed me one.
I loved my job.
I had wonderful coworkers.
I couldn’t have asked for a better year.
You may say it was luck but I sincerely believe that these things came to me not because I was lucky, but because I was brave enough to ask for them.
The people you meet are all meant to teach you something.
In one year, I met lots of wonderful people and then a few not so wonderful people.
But every person taught me a lesson.
They taught me kindness, compassion, generosity, and love.
They taught me disappointment, pain, and forgiveness.
At the end, I became a much smarter and better person because of it all, and it gives me hope that wherever I go, I’ll meet a different version of them.
But perhaps the biggest lesson I learned was this: choose yourself, always.
In the months leading up to my move, I had to battle many self-doubts and judgments.
My parents gave me a list of reasons not to go and my own fears and doubts told me every day that I was being reckless and selfish.
There were so many reasons for me not to go but I only needed one to go: I wanted to.
And when it was time for me to go again, I had reasons not to go. But I reminded myself the reason why I was even there in the first place was that I followed my heart and now my heart was telling me to go because there is more to be discovered.
So, I put all my things back in the luggage that I came with and chose myself again.