I’ve always prided myself on being fiercely independent. As a wallflower kid, biking to my secret spot in the park and reading was my jam. By college I was all about going to the movie theater alone, something high school me would have been embarrassed of. And running has always been a solitary activity for me, a time to quell the noise in my head (I so want to like running groups, but they’re just not my thing). So when I made my first solo move to Milwaukee after graduating from college, I wasn’t too concerned. I figured that before I made new friends, I’d happily soak up adventures alone.
In reality, it was way harder than I thought it would be—my roommate’s cat was my primary support system. She’s crazy adorable and all, but was probably bewildered by this weird crying human that had moved into her home. The point of all of this is to say that I was very nervous to wipe my slate clean again in Pennsylvania when I moved at the beginning of this month. Especially because this time I was going to a small town instead of a mid-size city.
I’ve been here three weeks now, and this go-around is already far better. Plus this is the first time I’m living without a roommate, which is its whole own empowering step. (Is this what being a real adult feels like? Being able walk around in your underwear and decorate your apartment walls exactly as you like them?)
When I moved to Milwaukee as a 22-year-old, I was a lot more shy and very scared to put myself into new social situations, which made making friends really hard. At 27 now, I’m a bit gutsier, having adapted the very grown-up What’s the worst that could happen, they don’t like me? attitude. Because really, if I’m not even being myself, what’s the point anyway? There’s always that awkward testing-the-waters-of-weirdness phase, where I don’t know how off the cuff I can be with a new acquaintance. Getting totally comfortable around an almost friend is a process, but I can say that the people I’ve met here so far have been super welcoming. Baby steps, guys.
Oh, and my penchant for running alone has really helped me to explore my new surroundings, especially because I’m marathon training and logging lots of miles. All the pictures you see in this post I’ve taken during some recent run because it’s so lush and green and gorgeous here in the Lehigh Valley during summertime. I’m still baffled when I walk around my town and see tree-lined slopes surrounding me on all sides. This has got to be good for my lungs, right?
While I do miss running along Lake Michigan and feeling its cool breeze—that sure would be nice today, as it’s hitting 97 degrees here—I’ve been having fun exploring new trails during my Sunday long runs. I’ve got a 14-miler coming up tomorrow, so expect more pics… because I’m a monster and can’t resist stopping to take them every few miles. (Proof: My new Instagram account @runcraveconquer. I started it because I felt bad spamming my personal Instagram account followers with so many scenic photos. You’re welcome, friends.)
Are there days when I totally miss walking down city streets to favorite coffee shops that don’t close by 5 p.m. like so many small-town joints around here? OMG YES. Do I feel like I’m majorly missing out on going to Milwaukee’s summer festivals with my oddly delightful friends? Completely. But unlike my last major move, I’m not dwelling on these inconveniences or allowing myself to feel too nostalgic. There’s that really lame saying that you always see on basic wall art at places like Target: “Bloom where you are planted.” It’s super trite, but it’s exactly what I’m trying to do.
YOUR TURN: What was your last major life change, and how’d you deal with it?