The Cost of Living the Dream28 October 2015
Moving to Washington DC was one of the biggest and most unplanned decisions I've ever made. I'd like to say that in typical me fashion I had plans to move here after graduation, with a job lined up and ideas of what neighborhood I would rent an apartment in. But I cant.
Somehow I found myself walking across the stage of my college graduation totally unaware of what my next step was. All I knew was that moving back home was the last thing I wanted or needed, and I was willing to take the first flight anywhere.
Luckily I didn't completely drop the ball my senior year, having spent a quarter interning in DC and applying to one graduate school. I didn't think too much about it, the application fee was waived and it's hard for me to say no to a good sale. Hell, I was saving 40 dollars, how could I not apply? Amazingly I was accepted, but I didn't say yes to the offer right away. It took one month of living at home to realize that beggars cant be choosers, so I said 'yes' to moving back to DC and starting grad school in the fall. Goodbye year to find myself, hello crippling student loans!
I'm not complaining though, at least not completely. I love Washington DC and all the opportunities it has presented me, but every great chance has come at a price. And that's what happens when you take advantage of the things not everyone is offered, you give up all the comforts of predictability. Anyone who moves away to a new town far from home glamorizes packing up and catching that long awaited flight, yet no one talks about how hard it is once the plane lands. With no one to greet you at arrivals and welcome you home, living the dream feels more like surviving.
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I keep reading all these articles on sites like Thought Catalog and Elite Daily that talk about all the great things that come with moving to places like New York and being in your twenties, but who is writing about all the stress that comes with feeling alone in a place as big as New York City and how fucked up dating in your twenties has become.
Moving to DC meant leaving behind every friendship I had created in California, from past roommates to high school best friends. Going to college 400 hundred miles from home meant I wasn't new to having to start over, except this time there weren't planned socials for me to meet new friends or extracurriculars I could sign up for with the hopes of leaving with free pizza and a new friend.
Leaving my best friends had to be the hardest transition, with no one to run errands with or invite out on a Friday night. You don't get used to not knowing a single soul, and after a while, you began to give up on the idea of finding a new group of friends.
I can honestly say I haven't really found a group of people in DC yet that I can truly call friends, and it sucks, but it's the sacrifice I've made. That and giving up 50% of my income to keep a roof over my head.
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Shows like How I Met Your Mother and New Girl glamorize living in the city, and especially sugar coat what it's like to have roommates in your twenties. This year I decided I would do everything in my power to live on my own, and while it was possible, the struggle is very much real.
Quitting my job and praying I'd find a better paying one fast, renting a studio and putting up with pipes that smell like rotten eggs are just some of the challenges I face on a daily basis. But I try to not dwell on the price of rent or the fact that I'm just not clicking with the crowd in DC, cause I am living the exact life I pictured when I caught my flight to the East Coast. Sure it took a year before I found a decent paying job and semi affordable apartment, but hey, it was worth waiting for.
The point of all of this was to remind you that life isn't as simple as all those listsicles make it out to be, people who travel often than you are most likely broke and lonely half the time, and it's perfectly normal to have to settle for less for a greater purpose. So ignore people who tell you how it's so important to be single in your twenties or move to a new city, do what works for you, because at the end of the day nobody's happiness is more important than your own.
Have you ever made a major life change to be happier overall? What's the biggest risk you've taken, and did it work out in the end?