I would argue that being 18 is one of the strangest times in a person’s life. There are so many changes that seem to happen all at once, and for the first time, you have options about what you want to do with your life.
I grew up in Colorado, so knew I wanted to move some place new when I graduated high school. Because of my parents, I reluctantly attended the University of Colorado my freshman year of college. After a year of hating the cold weather, my classes, and the same old scenery, I knew I needed a fresh start in a new place.
So, I quit my job, packed all of my clothes into the back of my little SUV and drove 1,000 miles away. Seriously. I moved all the way from Denver to Knoxville, and although it was hard at first, it was easily one of the best decisions I ever made.
These are the reasons why.
1. It taught me how to be self-sufficient. My mom couldn’t do my laundry for me anymore. Being halfway across the country, I couldn’t count on my parents to take care of my responsibilities. I had to take care of myself. I learned how to go grocery shopping, how to clean my bathroom and how to make my own doctor appointments. For the first time, I was forced to be an adult, a lesson that my 19-year-old self definitely needed to learn.
2. It taught me how to be spontaneous. I know I sound reckless for moving across the country, but it was the first time I’d ever ventured out of my comfort zone. Since I didn’t have anything to lose, I learned to say yes to things I wouldn’t have before. And no, I’m not saying you should say “yes” to everything. Be smart, but allow yourself to be open to new experiences. I hung out with people that I never would have before; I went line dancing at a country bar, and I took a road trip to North Carolina to find fresh apple cider. Being on my own gave me an “up for anything” mentality, which is something that I believe all 20-somethings need to have.
3. I met people that I actually had something in common with. It seemed like I had completely drifted apart from my friends back home; we grew up and grew apart. The things that we had in common in elementary school were long gone, and it almost seemed like we were friends for the sheer fact that we had been friends for so long. When I moved to Knoxville, I met people that I established a real connection with. I found friends that were supportive of me and shared interests with me.
4. I met my better half. My boyfriend encourages me to be a better person every day, and his constant love and support makes me feel truly blessed to have him in my life. His family has also been an incredible support system for me since I’ve been so far away from home. They are my Knoxville family, and they’ve welcomed me into countless Sunday lunches, burger nights and holidays.
5. I’ve learned to be okay with being alone. When I moved to Knoxville, I didn’t know a single person. I’m not going to lie; I hated it at first. I was so used to always being with other people, and the thought of being alone made me feel uncomfortable. But I began to enjoy my alone time. It gives me time to reflect, to read and to have a sense of peace in my life.
6. I’ve learned to accept failure. I’ve studied for exams for hours and hours on end, aided by excessive amounts of caffeine, and still completely bombed them. There have been days where I’ve felt discouraged about my major and work in my internship, weeks that I’ve neglected working out to sit on my butt instead, and times that I’ve treated people I love poorly. I’ve been able to conclude that it’s completely acceptable to fail.You might be fortunate enough to be in your 20’s and have your life completely figured out. But I’d argue that most of us, including myself, aren’t even close to that point. We don’t have to be.
7. And, most importantly, I’ve learned to trust myself.
Sadee Hanson is a senior studying public relations. She blogs about professional advice for the present and future. She will graduate in May 2015.
Edited by Maggie Jones