“You’re so lucky!”

Am I really, though? Or is this a combination of hard work, persistence, risk-taking and a little bit of crazy that has actually gotten me here? When I broke the news to family, friends, colleagues, and even my dermatologist that I was moving across the country from Boston to Los Angeles on my own, the responses were not quite what I expected. Sure, there were lots of comments about how lucky I was, how others wished they could do it too, and how happy they were for me. Much to my surprise, I also answered a lot of negative questions about the trip. Why would I want to leave everything I knew? What was better about California? Why would I leave my job without another job in place? One of my best friends even slapped me with a “You’re better than that.” So much for support, am I right?

When you’re already terrified to make such a gigantic move, those comments and questions don’t help. In fact, they make you want to retreat back to your bubble of comfort where all of your family and friends live within a two-hour drive. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to have plenty of people that supported me, especially my parents and closest friends that understood my need to jump into the unknown.  It was with that support, a couple of suitcases, very little life-savings and a killer playlist that I packed up my Jeep and changed my life. 

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

No, it’s not comfortable being a six-hour flight and countless states away from everything you know. Let’s just get that out of the way. It’s tough. Really tough. There are days when you feel alone, days when you just want to cry (and do), days when you literally do not know what to do with yourself because you have no idea what’s even out there to do. There will be quite a few days when you wished you were home in your bubble doing things you love to do with the people you love to do them with. Don’t let that stop you, and by all means, do not turn around and go home. Life is testing you, and nobody likes failing tests. The best things in life certainly don’t come from making easy choices.

Start doing things by yourself. Get up and go hiking, join a gym, find other groups that enjoy your hobbies, take a class, and find things that might make you feel at home… even if just for a minute. Over time, being uncomfortable starts feeling a little more comfortable, and you start passing the test. Things you would never have dreamed of doing at home suddenly become the norm. You feel entirely free to do things that your friends back home would never have done with you or things that you didn’t even know interested you until now. You’ll find new passions, hobbies, and no matter how confident you thought you were, you’re going to surpass that. 

Say yes.

You do not have any room to say no. At some point, you’ll get your first invitation to do something, anything, from someone you just met. Maybe it’s attending a barbecue or a beach volleyball game (I’m terrible at beach volleyball) or a hike with a group of people you don’t know. It’s human nature to find an excuse not to go because — you guessed it — it’s uncomfortable. But you have to. Some will make you wish that you never said yes (like the viewing party turned speed-dating event I unwittingly suffered through), and some will mean the beginning of life-long friendships that you can’t imagine your life without. In my case, a networking event turned into finding my best friend on the West Coast… Who would have thought?!

Much like the Shonda Rhimes book Year of Yes, this becomes a practice. It becomes a conscious decision that not only propels the first few months of a new life; it becomes a lifestyle. “Yes” leads to new experiences, life-changing relationships, and a world that opens up beyond what you ever thought possible. You’ll find yourself in rooms with people you’ve always admired and in places that are more beautiful than you could have imagined. All you have to do is say yes.

A new take on “you are who you surround yourself with”

A friend recently came to visit me from Boston, and when she was leaving she turned to me and said, “Honestly Courtney, you’ve surrounded yourself with better people for you than you were able to back home.” Talk about an eye-opener.

When I left Boston, and for many months after that, all I could focus on was that I missed my friends back home. I missed the laughing and the outings and people truly knowing me. What I didn’t realize was that I now had a blank slate. I had a white canvas that I could paint with whatever colors and shapes I wanted to, and very slowly, I began to paint a masterpiece without realizing it. When you make a move like this, there are no outside opinions, there are no pre-judgments, and frankly, there is no frame of reference anymore for meeting new people. You start to surround yourself only with those that have good energy and connect with you and only you. There are no more friends of friends or people you have to be around due to circumstance. You now have the freedom to choose every single person that you allow into your life, so take advantage. Be selective and choose those that you have a soul connection with. Don’t waste time on toxic friendships or shallow ones.

You finally have the opportunity to be you, so take it. 

Just go for it

So what now? Eight months after the big move, I’m happier than ever. I have a job I love, friends I couldn’t live without, and have experienced things I honestly never thought possible. Life has, quite literally, opened itself up to me and provided opportunities that never would have existed had I stayed in the bubble. 

For those of you that have had that back-of-the-mind thought that maybe, someday, I should get out there and make a move (and even those of you that never thought about it)… Just do it. Make it happen. Say to someone — out loud — that you going are going and write down the date so you can’t back out. You will always have your home, and you can always go back, but what you can’t do is live life wondering if you should have gone. Trust me — you will adventure, you will learn, you will fail, you will laugh, you will share new experiences, and most importantly, you will grow. 

“I’m a great believer that saying yes is a lot more fun than saying no.”

Richard Branson