Moving is one of the most stressful things you can do as an adult. The logistics, not knowing anyone, anticipating the change about to come, and a whole list of other variables all build up an immense level of stress and anxiety that sometimes feels impossible to overcome. Adjusting to a new city can be overwhelming, but it’s also super exciting sometimes. Change is hard but spurs some incredible personal growth.
I remember how stressed I was about moving to Portland. I was moving across the country to a city I had only ever been to once before, where I didn’t know a soul. I was both excited and terrified. It didn’t help that I was moving in the middle of the pandemic, making friends even harder. If I’m completely honest, my first year in Portland sucked. The city was on lockdown, and everyone was avoiding everyone trying to dodge catching COVID. And even though I completely understood why the city was like that, it didn’t make the isolation any easier. But now, with life going back to normal, or as normal as it will be after the world shuts down, I’ve started to love the city, and I can’t see myself moving away anytime soon. So how did I adjust to such a big life change?
Adjusting to a New City
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
I am naturally introverted and a homebody. So if I don’t have a reason to leave my apartment, I won’t. And it might sound crazy to tell someone who is moving to a new city that they need to get out of their comfort zone seeing as moving is already doing that. But, and maybe this is just my thing, I find comfort in setting a routine, and being a naturally introverted homebody, that routine makes the outside world disappear some days. I legit forget that there are other people in the world if I don’t go outside for long enough. This is why I stopped ordering my groceries online as a reason to force myself into the real world.
Join a Gym or a Rec Sports Team
I have always struggled with going to the gym. I find conventional gyms so freaking boring. I go inside, move some dead weight around, leave, and then rinse and repeat daily. The monotony of it all makes my skin crawl. I have always loved playing sports when I’m not injured, but organized sports become less accessible as you get older.
My solution is rock climbing. I found a rock climbing gym a few blocks from my apartment and tried it. I was instantly hooked. It wasn’t just listening to music while I moved weights around, but figuring out climbing routes and meeting cool people. The cool thing about a rock climbing gym is that it’s filled with cool people who are usually super friendly. I’ve made some awesome friends through rock climbing. But maybe rock climbing isn’t your thing. I get it.
My friend back home in Florida recently joined an adult kickball team. They play a game every Wednesday night. And he seems to love it. But he is a lot like me in that he misses organized sports. Maybe you’re not into sports or being athletic, which is fine. You need to find a group of people who like doing what you do. Join a book club, sign up for a Magic the Gathering tournament at your local board game store, or even volunteer at a local nonprofit. The thing with meeting new people as an adult is you need to throw yourself into new environments, and you are bound to make a friend or two. (Or, in the case of us introverts, you’ll get adopted by an extrovert.)
Become a Regular
This one is kind of dumb but also helped me through the pandemic. Become a regular somewhere in your new city. Maybe you love coffee, going to a bookstore, or grabbing lunch on your break. Becoming a regular somewhere can help make a strange new city more familiar. Seeing familiar faces, people knowing your name or your order, can help alleviate the alienness of moving.
New City, New You!
Moving to a new city gives you the same opportunity you had when you went to college. You can rebrand yourself a bit. Allow yourself to explore the city, find new hobbies, figure out what makes your city as cool as it is, and you can try and find your place in it. Adjusting to a new city can be hard. Still, with a little courage, an adventurous attitude, and positive thinking, you can overcome any stress or social anxiety that comes your way.