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Moving is Hard (Even When You Want to Go)

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I am a photographer and writer passionate about the outdoors, meaningful travel, and living deliberately. I hope to use my platform online to show the beauty and complexity of the world we live in, and to encourage genuine connection to the outdoors, culture, people and wildlife.

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On Tuesday I moved to LA. Honestly, there were endless reasons not to go.

There will always be reasons not to do the scary thing or take the risk. The reasons not to do something always seem to be louder, right? They scream and demand to be listened to. They show up to remind you that you could be lonely, that you could stay scared, that expectations are real and that they could be broken. I already know that’s all possible. It feels like I’ve lived through all of it many lifetimes over. I’ve been there, sat with loneliness on four continents, on islands and in cities and on beaches and rooftops. I have lived that solitary uncertainty more times than I can count in my early 20’s alone and in truth, I already know that it’s exhausting.

None of those reasons were good enough not to go.

Driving out here was like 16 hours of meditation. All that time just to sit with myself. Somehow when there’s just road in front of you and it’s just you, there’s nothing in the way of wondering why you’re not working on your dream project or why you’re not finding the love of your life. You can go into that middle-of-nowhere gas station and buy as many peanut M&M’s as you want– those same fuckin’ questions will be there when you start driving again.

Moving is hard even when you want to go. Even when the going is the most important thing.

I know for sure that no song is catchy enough, no podcast interesting enough, no canyon stunning enough to take my mind off of the wounds I normally try to cover and hide from myself. Driving out here was 16 hours of showing myself the walls I’ve put up, and 16 hours of giving myself the forgiveness and permission to start taking them down.

It was finding acceptance and courage; it was stirring the pot of stuff I thought I left behind in Boulder or New York or Porto. Just sitting in my own history, remembering the main players in every game I’ve ever won or lost, the prominent characters of each chapter of my life, wondering if I might see them again as I turn another page.

I have moved around so much. I have lived in many houses (sometimes tents), alone or with someone else, and leaving– well it’s familiar but I’m not convinced it gets any easier. Part of me will always fight the belief that it’s best to not get attached so that you don’t have to hurt when it’s time to go. Part of leaving will always suck– apply it to whatever you want, it’s hard to uproot. You can know a relationship isn’t right but still love the person, maybe you still love why you fell so hard for them in the beginning, and maybe you still do. It doesn’t mean they are right or good for you.

I think the hardest part of leaving is that bit right before you do. You can imagine it for months, you can fantasize about your new life and how great it’ll be and how free you’ll feel and the exact thing you’ll wear as you board the plane or drive past the state line. Even when you’re ready to start over, it’s hard.

To some, it must not seem right that I’d trade mountains and open space for traffic in the city. But I would much rather return to the Rockies someday knowing that I followed my heart and soul; knowing that I listened to the cells of my body that pushed me West, and that I most importantly responded to that call. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. Remember that nobody else gets to have an opinion on your decisions without your validation.

When you make a change I promise you’re gonna get hit with all of it– the loneliness and the hummingbirds, the heartbreak and the starry-eyed wonder of the new place, whatever and wherever that might be. I know California doesn’t promise me anything different. It certainly doesn’t promise anything that I don’t look for. I know that I see magic wherever I choose to look for it. I am happy to be here. I am happy to sit on these steps in front of the lime tree and write this to you. I’m reminded of the porch at my old place in Colorado, how it too became a place where I’d sit and unload my thoughts here– where I handed over my dreams and my hurts in surrender and therefore, in strength.

If and when you move into a new story, remember that although you may feel like a stranger in the new place, you’re not a stranger to yourself. You can sit and know yourself anywhere, regardless of what tree you sit under. Life is hunch after hunch. But you have to trust that you know what’s best for you, and that the feeling that pulls you in whatever direction is not without purpose. If you don’t listen, how else will you get anywhere?

There will always be a million reasons not to go.

The point is that you are the only one who can decide to drive your life in any direction for 16 hours, or however long it takes you to get where you’re going. There will always be endless reasons not to go. Decide which call you want to listen to.

Know that nothing is wrong with you if it’s hard. It just means the chapter was meaningful in the first place.

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  1. Matthew Hell says:

    This really hit home! Lots of emotion in this and fell it in your writing. You got this Erin!

  2. Karlee says:

    Parts of this made me smile & giggle because it describes how I’ve felt I so many times but you put it into perfect words.
    My favorite part was when you said, “You can sit and know yourself anywhere, regardless of what tree you sit under. ”
    I’m going to keep that in my mind over the next few years, with all the places my journey might take me.

  3. Steph says:

    I love this post!! I’m moving to San Diego from CT and I start driving Thursday. I’m so excited and so scared at the same time. I know it’s the right thing, but it’s definitely hard to fathom that it’s all finally happening as I sit here and start to pack my world into my tiny SUV. Your article came at the most perfect break time! Best of luck to you in LA…. the universe is unfolding exactly as it is supposed to! Maybe our paths will cross out west one day. I sure hope so! 🙂

    • Steph – that is so exciting (and totally terrifying). Isn’t it so funny how we only get scared once it actually starts happening? All the best with your move!

  4. kim says:

    You’ve just put into words a lot of what I’ve been feeling for the past year. It’s been at a high point over the past month and I was just going to go to bed and then I found your piece. Thank you… It opened up my heart reading it and it felt good to read someone else is going through the same things, for most part of her life it seems. <3

  5. Alyssa says:

    This post hits home real hard as I pack up whatever fits inside my SUV and leave the state I was born and raised in to move halfway across the country to Texas. No one understands why I need to do this and, depending on the day, I don’t know why either. But I know I need to listen to my gut that it’s time for a change. It’s so nice to hear that others are going through the same challenge and I love how perfectly your words describe the uneasy yet exciting feeling of leaving home to go somewhere completely new and start fresh. Good luck in LA and can’t wait to continue following your story!

  6. Jessica says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’m originally from Pennsylvania and found myself moving first to Montana and now New Mexico. Life takes us to crazy, unforeseen places but some wisdom like you just shared helps get us through.

  7. Emily says:

    This post resonates with me so much! Two years ago, I moved from Ohio to California alone, not knowing anyone in my new city. It was thrilling and terrifying all at once. While I was excited to start a new chapter, it took some serious reflection to realize that I’d made the right choice. Thank you for sharing this!!

  8. Jeremy says:

    I’m living the same feelings. Moved from Boston to Austin a couple of months ago. Each move serves a purpose even if it’s for a month or 3 years, it’s what was right for you at that moment in your life.

  9. Hati says:

    Wow. I can’t quite believe how emotional reading this has made me. I feel like I am currently at a massive crossroads in my life, where my heart is really trying to yank me in one direction but the rest of me is doing everything in it’s power to go the other way. Reading this post, and seeing everyones replies has comforted me slightly in knowing I’m not alone. This has definitely helped me come slightly closer to making a decision and so thankyou! I follow you on Instagram but have never actually been here, I will definitely be revisiting and I look forward to reading more of your posts!
    X

    • Hati, glad you made it over to the blog and thanks so much for sharing. It’s like we want to keep ourselves safe from the uncertainty for fear of failure or whatever else may come up. You are totally not alone. The one question I always ask myself– “will I regret NOT doing this?”

  10. Michael says:

    ” Here is the truth about self-discovery: it is never without cost. ” Angela Flournoy It makes no difference Erin if the move was right or wrong, time will answer that. There really is nothing we do that comes with guarantees. You are smart, thoughtful and fierce. I think good things will unfold for you and send you energy.

  11. Kacie says:

    This really touched me. I recently resigned from my teaching and coaching job. I have no idea what I am going to do, what I want to do, and really have no sense of clarity. All I know is, that something has been pulling me SOMEWHERE for the better part of the last two years. At this point, all I can follow is my curiosity and it’s scary as hell learning that it’s okay to trust in that. Thank you for sharing, Erin.

  12. Diana says:

    I could really resonate with your words, Erin! Moving is hard, and I think you’re so right about accepting that there will be those lonely and difficult moments. They come with the journey. When I moved away I felt terrified and so lonely, but after a few months things began to fall into place. I’m now back at home but am so glad I had the experience of living away from home on and off for a few years- it challenges you in so many ways. Another wonderful post xx

    http://mylovelierdays.com

  13. DAYUM. Glad I’m not alone in these strange moving feelings. I’m currently on the road for a month moving from LA to NY. There are a million reasons to go, and going was still so hard. Grateful/annoyed with all the time I have in my car to think about it. Congrats on your move. Kiss that city for me 🙂

  14. Josiah Bedrosian says:

    As someone who has just uprooted myself, and doing it for all the right reasons, I can relate to the feeling that it’s still hard to do so even though you know it’s the right call. You have some great incite, Erin, into how to properly view the change that is inevitable in our lives. I appreciate your sharing!

  15. Sheema says:

    I’m going through the same wave of emotions as I make my own move and take a few (somewhat) calculated risks. I’m scared, but several of my friends have commended my “bravery”. I can relate :).

  16. Christian says:

    Erin, this is amazing. I loved every word.

  17. Catina says:

    Erin,

    This was truly an amazing post. Having just stumbled upon it as something so similar is occurring in my life at this very moment. Beautiful.

  18. Ciara Khan says:

    Tugging at my heart strings! Beautiful post, Erin.

  19. Amanda Kohr says:

    Hi Erin,

    I originally found you as a fellow gal on She Explores and fell in love with your blog. This post was especially poignant for me; I too have hopped around the country, and can certainly empathize with the need to head west. There’s something romantic about the unexplored, it calls to the heart and I’m really excited to learn from other people who understand and validate that call.

    I live in LA right now as well. The city is intense, but the culture and outdoor scene is so rewarding. If you ever want a road trip buddy or to grab a cup/glass of something, let me know. I love keeping the She Explores network thriving—Gale is a friend and she’s literally changed my life by introducing me to fellow travelers. 🙂

    xo,

    Amanda

    • Hi Amanda! Thank you for the love and for sharing–– I totally agree. Though I’ve lived in LA since August, I’ve actually only been “home” for a few weeks of that time! Looking forward to spending more time in the city this fall and I am sure our paths will cross! Gale is so awesome.

  20. mjscooke says:

    I needed to read this today. Thank you!

  21. Yuri says:

    Hello Arin,

    Do you still live in CA or have you moved since then?

  22. Emily Cox says:

    This was super helpful and affirming to me on the brink of a big move. Appreciate you!

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