One Way Ticket Out of the Comfort Zone

I was born and raised in North Carolina which has become my safe haven when I need refuge. Four years ago I made the decision to pack up my life after college and move to what I considered the big city. I stayed in the heart of a bustling Maryland City and was only a short ride from historic places like the White House and the National Monument. College had allowed me to at times feel like a big fish in a small pond especially attending a predominately white institution as a black woman. This move would shatter that idea and I quickly learned that I was no longer in my comfort zone and had to act accordingly.

I attended college only a short hour away from my family home which allowed me to have my space but to make quick trips if need be. College had provided me with a family away from home since we spent so many of our formative years together. We had experienced heartbreak, death, triumph, failure, and any other relevant emotion together. It was hard to believe that this could all be erased in the blink of an eye. Our paths veered from one another after college with some staying in the area, others going back home, and some going somewhere completely new. I was one of those people who chose completely new.

Though my best friend had made this move as well, I could not help but to feel lonely. I was in graduate school with women and men who were sometimes double my age or already settled in their career. I was the 22 year old who showed up to class late with no idea that I had an assignment to turn in this night. I couldn’t find any similar qualities in these people who were supposed to be my peers. My grades suffered because of this and even my interest in school was diminished because it just didn’t seem fun anymore. I went from having a plethora of those to associate with to literally just my best friend.

The loneliness had almost fully enveloped me until I decided I couldn’t live like this. College had provided several opportunities to easily become friends with people and some of these friendships were purely surface level if I had to be honest. The real world didn’t afford you this same luxury. You had to make an active choice to get out, explore, and hopefully meet people you connect with on a deeper level. You had to hope that your busy schedules and varying views would allow you to interact outside the monthly happy hours you visited. You had to realize that loneliness was a choice.

Once I freed my thinking of the intangible chains, my life took a turn for the better. I felt like myself again as I started meeting new people who seemed to share some of the same struggles that transitioning into adulthood brings. I accepted a job that surrounded me with fresh thinkers who wanted to change the world but also enjoyed an occasional beer. I met other women who seemed to be the mirror image of myself which resulted in a friendship that has sustained us through the years. More importantly, I let go of the idea that I needed anyone to be my full and complete self.

As I said earlier, loneliness is a choice. I have chosen every day to take action that makes me feel whole whether it includes other people or not. Moving to a new place made me realize that the majority of the limitations we face are created by our fears. I had fears of not being good enough, fears of not fitting in, and fears of not getting what we deserve. I struggled with all these issues and my time alone gave me no choice but to find a solution. My solution was the fact that my life didn’t have to fit into a status quo which at times was uncomfortable but so enriching. 


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