I call Durham, North Carolina, home. I’ve done the first three stages of my life – childhood, college, and my first few years of marriage – in the same place.
Learning to love the place I’m in hasn’t been a walk in the park. When everything feels familiar, it’s easy to take for granted the really great things that are right outside my front door. So whether you’re spending a summer in your college town, moving home after graduation, or pursuing life in a familiar place, here are some tips I have for making an old place feel new:
- Be a tourist in your own city. Google your city and research the top things to do on Trip Advisor. There may be some things you know are around the corner, but you’ve never taken the time to do them, or you did them a really long time ago.
I always knew Duke Gardens was right around the corner from me, but I never took the time to go explore. A few months ago, I decided to go, and let me tell you, it is beautiful! Taking my crazy pup there wasn’t the best idea – he interpreted “Take time to smell the flowers” as take time to play in and trample the flowers. But, I’ll definitely be back.
2. Check out local apps. The Triangle is truly becoming an entrepreneurial hub. There’s a new local app called Offline that posts about cool restaurants, bars, hikes, and other things to do in the Triangle area.
3. Appreciate how amazing your childhood and college friends are, but also look to build new friendships. I have some amazing childhood and college friends, some of which also live in the area, which is awesome! I’m so lucky that my two best friends who were my co-maids of honors live in the Triangle now (lookin’ at my gal pal loves Perry and Madz).
Since getting married, my husband and I have really tried to pursue new friendships in this area, too. We’ve made friends at our workplaces. We’ve also taken on new roles in a ministry we were involved in during college, Young Life.
We’ve gotten involved in our church and now host a weekly Bible study in our home, which has introduced us to a lot of new people in the area. I also recently joined a book club with old friends and new friends, and we had our first meeting last week. Btw, Highly recommend Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness!
I’m a different person from when I was in middle school or college, and I’m sure you are, too! Look for new friendships. The new relationships will bring a lot of energy to an old place.
4. Take a risk on new experiences. Buy tickets or add it to your calendar as soon as you think of it, so you don’t miss the experience.
A few things on my list are:
- Taking a Skillpop class: Modern Calligraphy and Spring Wreath Design are on my list!
- Yoga at a local brewery: tons of breweries offer yoga in the mornings, including Fullsteam, Neuse River Brewing, and The Roof at The Durham. There’s even baby goat yoga at Spring Haven Farm in Chapel Hill – which sounds awesome!
- Run the Bull City Half Marathon. It’s my goal to run a half marathon in every city I live in. Durham will be the first.
5. Document the new experiences you discover and the new things you want to try. When you get in your feels about being in a familiar place and not in a new city (it happens to everyone – ugh Instagram), do two things.
- Remind yourself of the cool new things you have discovered in your city. Write them in a journal or take pictures.
- Shove your feels aside and go try a new thing! Having about five things that you want try on a list on a Note on your phone. It will make it easier to go on a local adventure if they’re easily accessible rather than sifting through a million options and shutting them all down because, ya know, feels.
6. Take new friends to try your favorite things in the area. My favorite place in Durham is Monuts Donuts. Y’all do not get me started. Monuts Donuts is the literal BEST.
When I make new friends, the first thing I want to do with them is bring them to Monuts. I feel so much joy as soon as I walk through the doors and see the exposed brick, the coffee bar, and the delicious smells of fresh donuts and lattes. Getting to share that joy with other people is awesome and makes me remember how awesome my city is.
7. Lastly, remove the words ‘still’, ‘stuck’, and ‘settle’ from your vocabulary. Over and over, I’ve heard people say, “Are you still in the Triangle?” Or, “That’s great that you’re sticking around.” An acquaintance from high school backhanded-ly complimented my “settled down” lifestyle. I’ll be clear, I’m not a homebody – I probably won’t ever be one – and I’m certainly not settled. Most importantly, I’m not stuck. Two years after graduation, I’m continuing to live in the Triangle, but that’s where I’m supposed to be right now, and that could drastically change in the next six months, the next six years, or the next sixty years.
Everyone’s life after college will have some monotony – that’s part of the adjustment from life in college to life with a full-time job. The Millennial Mindset tells us that we must travel all of the time and that everything we do must be filled to the brim with passion and excitement. When you come home after a long day of work and need to take a break, that’s okay!
Remember that an adventure is always a car ride or a phone call away. Keep your running list of new things you want to try, and go do them! It’s a change in mindset and a change of experience that will change your life in your city.