Have you ever tried explaining that you’re moving halfway across the country, you only know one person, don’t have a job, and it’s going to be fine? Have you then tried to convince yourself of that over and over? I wouldn’t call it fun. But it certainly is validating and character-building.
I knew I was moving to Boston months before I got here. I loved my mid-western upbringing (it’s pop, not soda), but knew that I needed something new. I went out-of-state for both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I had a trial run during an 8 week internship in upstate New York the summer between my two years of grad school. I had moved away for a few weeks, so obviously a few years would be nothing.
For someone who spends ages deliberating pros and cons and what “ifs”, I’m an ID-driven decision maker and I’m impulsive. I’d decided Boston was where I needed to be based on instinct. It’s that same hunch that helped me recognize that I’d love a position in residence life even though I had minimal direct experience (but many transferable skills). And it’s that same gut reaction that tells me I’m definitely not going to like Game of Thrones, even if I’ve never seen it (too many dragons). It’s all for good reason. That voice inside me, no matter how misguided it seems, is constantly poking and prodding because it knows me. I don’t think that intuition has led me anywhere I wasn’t meant to be so far.
This isn’t to say there weren’t and aren’t challenges. My mom was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer right before I picked up my entire life and moved it 1400 miles. There were conversations regarding whether or not I should stay or go. Mom knew I’d resent not following my heart and my head and with breaths of apology, I went. By nothing short of an act of God, my mom’s doctors caught the cancer early and treated it aggressively. She’s currently cancer free.
All of this is to say, if you’re going #SAmobile for whatever reason, congratulations! I’m excited for you and want to offer some tips that worked for me:
- Professional networks and organizations prove invaluable. Before I moved, I set up informational interviews to learn about folks’ experiences living and working in Boston. I wanted to build a professional network, and as a bonus, I met one of my now-dearest friends (if you’re looking to come to the Boston area, let’s connect). Organizations (like NASPA, ACPA, etc.) have mentorship opportunities, sponsor local happy hours, and hold drive-in workshops. You should go! There are meet-ups, divisional meetings, YMCAs—there are a myriad of ways to meet people, get connected, and start to (re)build your village. Networking introduced me to friends, fun, and my current, wonderful position.
- You might be unsure, but trust that the confidence in your sense of self will win out. There were days filled with deliberating and hesitancy. I took a first job I wasn’t sure I’d want to do forever. Still, I saw the opportunity to really learn and dove in. I may not be living The Secret, but I made sure my expectations and my attitude propelled me forward.
- Be ready to really be you. Starting over is a bizarre liberation. You get to operate independent of other’s long-held expectations. If that doesn’t apply, you get to actively reaffirm how you live your life. This isn’t to say I’m a fully realized person, but I’ve spent the last 18 months really defining who I am and who I want to be. It’s awesome.
I moved across country for the possibility of what could be. It’s that same hope that nudged me into student affairs in the first place; the hope that I could change the lives of students for the better, helping them be the whole persons they were meant to be, just as someone had done for me.
This post is part of our month-long series #SAmobile, a look at the stories of SA pros who picked up and moved for their career. This series is about the struggles, the successes, the hurdles, and the emotions involved in such a life changing decision. For more information, see the intro post by Juhi Bhatt. Check out other posts in this series too!
> BONUS <
Podcast With Kathleen Kerr on Passion – A Dirty Word?