san francisco, moving, alone

What I Learned From Packing Up and Leaving Home For A Year

Lifestyle/Self-development, Travel , , ,

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.

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Hui is a freelance writer on a journey to travel the world. She hopes to use her own knowledge and experience in overcoming fear, solo traveling, and goal setting to inspire others to go after their own dreams. If you are interested in working with Hui, feel free to reach out to her at

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