In July of 2016, I moved across the country for a year by myself.

With one luggage in hand, I moved from New York City to the San Francisco Bay Area.

When strangers ask me what made want to do this, I give them the simpler version of the story: I tell them I moved for work.

The real version, however, is simply because I wanted to and it taught me a great deal about myself.

What Moving Alone Taught Me

At home, my identity was always attached to my surroundings, my friends, and my family. But what if I removed all of those things, then who’s left?

I wanted to find out.

I wanted to see who I was outside of my comfort zone without my family and friends. I wanted to see what I was capable of and how far I was willing to go for my dreams.

And I learned a lot.

Disappointing People Without Losing Respect

When I first told my parents I wanted to move, they didn’t understand. They didn’t understand why I wanted to leave all my comforts behind. They didn’t understand why I didn’t want to be near them.

I told them it had nothing to do with them. I told them I would like to experience living somewhere else. I told them that I wanted to see the world.

They thought I was crazy.

But reluctantly they let me go. I’ll never forget the look on my dad’s face when I hopped into the taxi. It was an odd mixture of sadness, disbelief, shock, and pride.

I don’t know for sure, but something on his face told me he was kind of proud of me. Maybe he didn’t really think I had it in me but I did.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

When I first read these words, I didn’t understand them or maybe I didn’t believe them.

But it’s true.

Everything worked out pretty smoothly for me after I moved.

I found an apartment within a week.
I became really good friends with the first person I ever spoke to in SF.
I asked for a bike and my coworker literally handed me one.
I loved my job.
I had wonderful coworkers.

I couldn’t have asked for a better year.

You may say it was luck but I sincerely believe that these things came to me not because I was lucky, but because I was brave enough to ask for them.

Everyone Is Meant to Teach You Something

In one year, I met lots of wonderful people and then a few not so wonderful people.

But every person taught me a lesson.

They taught me kindness, compassion, generosity, and love.

They taught me disappointment, pain, and forgiveness.

At the end, I became a much smarter and better person because of it all, and it gives me hope that wherever I go, I’ll meet a different version of them.

Choose Yourself

In the months leading up to my move, I had to battle many self-doubts and judgments.

My parents gave me a list of reasons not to go and my own fears and doubts told me every day that I was being reckless and selfish.

There were so many reasons for me not to go but I knew if I didn’t go, I will regret it for the rest of my life.

That was something I was not willing to live with.

And when it came to time for me to go again, I had reasons not to go.

But I reminded myself, the reason why I moved across the country in the first place was because I followed my heart and now my heart was telling me it’s time to go again.

The journey just started.

So, I took one last look at my room, put all the things back in the luggage I came with, and chose myself.

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