There is something so thrilling and beautiful about moving to a new city. Who you are is a mystery to everyone. Your past, your mistakes, your success, your relationships are all unknown to the new friends you make. It’s a fresh start.
Something I’ve noticed about moving a couple times since high school is that I become a different person in each city. I know that sounds like I’m a fake, unauthentic person, but I don’t think it does. I think it’s growing and becoming more of the person I’m supposed to be.
Growing up in the same place, knowing the same people, going to school with familiar faces, molds you into a person, good or bad. Everybody has a perception of who you are, with little wiggle room to change those views. For the most part, you stay the same throughout those hometown years.
Growing up in sweet, rural Carroll County, Maryland, I developed a personality I wasn’t exactly fond of. I was anxious constantly. I was scared of everything (including ordering at restaurants, and even looking at a doctor’s office). I was timid. I felt like an outsider constantly. I felt misunderstood. I resented that place because of the person I was when I lived there.
The first change came when I moved away to college in Savannah, Georgia. I became independent. I could talk to people without feeling like I was going to pass out. I became driven, motivated, focused, less bitter. More optimistic. I still carried baggage of who I was back home, still afraid of relationships, still keeping to myself in most scenarios. Moving away to college forced me out of comfort zones, but also allowed me cling to some. I clung to my need to be perfect (and the feeling of anxiety and anger when I fell short). I clung to anxieties that come with meeting new people. I clung to the impression that since I didn’t go to parties in high school, I would’t even think about going in college. I clung to very old insecurities.
I moved to Savannah while I was still a teenager. I was still figuring things out. I didn’t know the freedom that comes from being able to choose to act, think, feel, and be whoever I wanted to be. (I didn’t even know that was an option.)
This summer, moving to Nashville as a twenty-one-year-old, I felt a control that I had never experienced before. I made lots of amazing friends. I was outgoing. I made jokes at everything. I made people laugh. I went out with friends. I spent time exploring the city alone. I stopped my car on the side of the road just to appreciate the wildflowers. I let my guard down in record-time in relationships. I said ‘yes’ to experiences. I chose constant joy and love and hope; and man, it felt good. I didn’t let my past define me. The perception of people who had known me from my past didn’t cloud my personality.
Looking back on all of my journeys, I can point my growth out through the moves I’ve made. I’m thankful that I made the move to Savannah (however of a terrible transition that was). I’m thankful I moved to Nashville this summer and got to experience a glimpse of life outside of college. I think it’s so important for people to discover who they are outside of social confines. You learn so much about yourself that you never knew before. I learned that I love meeting new people and making new friends. I love being social. I love being goofy and making people laugh. I love not taking myself too seriously (coming from a girl who takes EVERYTHING way too seriously).
A couple weeks ago, I spent a day or so back in my hometown. And for the first time maybe ever, I noticed the beauty of the rolling hills, the serenity of the singing bugs, the peace that comes from driving on the curved roads. I always was so quick to want to leave home, to leave reputations and leave who I had become in the close proximity of familiar faces. I’m at a point in my life that I can enjoy where I’ve come from, and enjoy where I am. I can come home and be all the things I’ve discovered I love to be. I don’t have to be the timid, anxious girl I was, I can be the outgoing, goofy, relational girl I’ve grown to love in myself. I can dance in those rolling hills, I can sing along with the bugs, I can drive with the windows down on country roads. I’m not defined by my past, and I’m not locked into a lifestyle I once lived.
Nashville has shown me the woman I am, and the gal I enjoy being. She is bold. She is brave. She is loving. She is passionate. She sees herself in the wildflowers that grow in the fields. I will forever be a home-body with a nomadic soul. Discovering that is possibly one of the best feelings in the world.