Moving Out (and Moving on From Childhood)

Like everyone else on the planet, I was supposed to do a lot of things last year that never came to fruition. I was not planning on staying in my childhood home for an extra seven months. Actually, it was quite the opposite; in August of 2020, I was supposed to be on a one-way plane to London to study there for my full first year as part of Florida State University’s First Year Abroad program. To put it (extremely) lightly, my dreams were kind of crushed. My program obviously ended up getting canceled and I did not get to leave my home in Tampa for college until three weeks ago. 

London and big ben at sunset Photo by Lucas Davies from Unsplash

If you would’ve asked sixteen-year-old me if she was ready to move out and be independent and be essentially all on her own, I would have given an absolute hard “not in a million years.” My anxiety had been at an all-time high and I could genuinely never have imagined myself parting from the comforts of my home, my family and my routine. As my anxiety began to dissipate and I got older, I started to feel mostly okay with the idea of moving out. And then for almost the entirety of last year, that mild “okay” feeling turned into an urgent “I love my family but I will literally do anything to get out of here.” 

And lo and behold, my wish finally came true. The last few weeks of 2020 resulted in packing up everything that meant anything to me and putting it in a cardboard box. On the first day of 2021, my parents and I said bye to my younger brothers and my dog, got in our car, and drove the four hours up to Tallahassee. My parents helped move me in over the course of one weekend, and that was that. I was alone with my new roommate and my family and I was no longer separated by one wall but a four-hour-long drive in a car that I did not have. 

woman sitting in dim dining room Photo by Yoel Peterson from Unsplash

I used to be a really emotional person; I could easily make myself cry and did so on the regular. But being stuck at home for so long stopped me up like a bottle and I suddenly felt emotionally stunted. Crying was no longer easy for me, and I spent a lot of those months feeling kind of numb. I thrive when I’m out of my element, but there was nothing to challenge me for so long. I wasn’t figuring out how to navigate a whole new country like I thought I would, nor was I even just moving into a dingy dorm room. Everything was stagnant and boring—my absolute worst nightmare come true. 

Moving out was my saving grace. It wasn’t the huge break I was looking for but it was still something. The first night after my parents left I sat by myself in my new apartment and found I wasn’t anxious or sad or scared but that I was grieving of all things instead. I felt grief for the girl I was last year and the girl I was two years ago and the girl I was supposed to be. But grieving for me is never a bad thing; it’s incredibly cathartic and I was finally experiencing what I was supposed to feel so many months prior. It was wonderfully overwhelming (and I was finally able to allow myself to cry!!). 

Moving out has also made me realize I love being with people. I love hearing myself talk, and I hate being alone. I love having my routines, but it feels so good to know that I am not held back by my self-imposed routines, the way I felt when I was living at home. I also discovered I have a love-hate relationship with change; on the one hand, I hate not being able to plan ahead and know exactly what’s going to happen. But on the other, change only serves to make me a stronger person because I make it through to the other side every single time unscathed, and I’m proud of myself for that. 

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