555 – The Change

If you pay close attention, you’ll notice when the universe is guiding you. Sometimes we receive spiritual messages through “Angel Numbers,” which stem from the numerology-based belief that certain sequences of numbers have specific prophetic meanings. For example, when you see the number “555,” it means a change is in your horizon. 

The idea of change is often one of the most unnerving concepts to me. An insanely structured and anxious individual, I am most comfortable with organization and monotony. Needless to say, change is inevitable, and as much as I swear I don’t enjoy it, I rarely resent the changes I’ve experienced. 

5 years ago, I earned my undergraduate degree. Since then, I’ve changed my state of residence 5 different times. Here are 5 lessons I learned along the way…

1. Identity

If you are not aware of who you are, you are not living up to your full potential nor are your actions feeding your true purpose. 

Discouraged from the lack of ideal job opportunities after graduation, I packed a few bags and hopped on a bus to Chicago, IL to continue my job hunt. Certain I’d have better luck in the Windy City, one of my older brothers invited me to move in with him. I remember gawking at the enormous glowing skyline, my headphones blasting “Homecoming” by Kanye West as I arrived. I stepped off the bus with naïve excitement. The last time I visited Chicago, I was too young to see it for what it would mean to me on this day: the beautiful and bountiful city where my new life awaited. What really waited for me just outside of my bliss was the obstacle of meeting new people.

I was eager to get out and build a new network, but every time the occasion arose where I’d need to introduce myself, I ended up tongue-tied. A couple of awkward conversations made me realize the need to focus on discovering and defining my identity. Because I’d never lived far from home, I seldom had to introduce myself to someone who didn’t already have insight on my background. In Chicago, people wondered who I really was as a person besides a recent graduate or somebody’s daughter/sister. I started wondering the same thing. 

What were my goals? What were my hobbies? What was important to me?I tried committing to new habits and experimenting with new hobbies. I played around with my style and switched up my iTunes playlists. In short, I worked to open my mind in an effort to explore myself. I wanted to be able to accurately present myself to others with confidence. Today, I try to look at every experience as a helping hand molding me into who I am meant to be. 

2. Friendship

At the root of every healthy relationship lies an even healthier friendship. 

A few months later, I received my first salaried job offer which brought me to Indianapolis, IN. With the exception of my boyfriend and his family (whom I’d only recently met) and a few extended family members, I barely knew anyone there. My new lifestyle hit me with major culture shock. While this was my first true taste of adulthood, I felt isolated and needed my friends more than ever before. I was thankful for Facetime dates and Snapchat videos, but nothing could compare to the euphoria I once felt after spending good, in-person quality time with them. 

With time, I began to realize which friends actually gave me that recharging feeling and who usually always left me feeling low. I examined what truly mattered to me in a friend at this stage in my life, which helped me to determine my definition of friendship: two people with similar morals, a mutual respect for one another and an effortless habit of understanding before criticizing. 

I started trimming my circle of friends down to those who not only brought light to my life but also thrived off the love that I could provide them in exchange. Friendship is essential in every type of relationship in my life. As my network grows, I revisit my standards to help me maintain a healthy, supportive tribe. 

3. Understanding

Be gentle with yourself and others by seeking to understand before passing judgement. 

After two years away, I reluctantly returned home to Michigan. When I initially moved out, I was solely focused on finding myself and starting my career, but I should have stayed my butt at home and saved more money focused on development in other important aspects of adulthood as well. Fortunately, my mother and stepfather always encouraged me to come home if I ever needed to; and once I did, they never pressured me to move out. It was more important to them that when I stepped out of my comfort zone again, I would place my foot on a sturdy foundation.

Despite their reassurance, I couldn’t help the fact that I felt like a failure. It took a few months to admit that the only reason I felt defeated was because I had subconsciously placed judgement on others who had never moved out. Little did I know, they were two steps ahead of me in the journey toward a bright future. Living at home while I got my ducks in a row turned out to be the smartest decision I could have made at that time. 

Returning to Michigan humbled me. The move taught me how to understand others’ journeys as well as my own. Everyone’s situation is different, but in many ways, we all face the same struggles. We are all trying to figure out how to navigate through our lives – constantly forced to swallow our pride and practice patience along the way.

4. Independence

The responsibility of independence is worth the power of being self-sufficient.

Once I felt ready, I stuffed my father’s Jeep to capacity for a move to New York City. A few months before, I mentioned to him that I was strongly considering moving there. Soon after that, we took a weekend road trip so that I could visit the Big Apple for the first time. A proud product of Brooklyn, I knew my father was secretly using the trip to convince me to fall in love. One plate of chicken and waffles at Sylvia’s in Harlem was all it took! I was intimidated by the idea of such a drastic move, but all signs in my life were pointing me there. 

Upon moving in, my older cousin welcomed me with open arms. “I like having my family close,” he’d often say, which always reassured me that my presence was not a burden. Although he remained supportive and available if I ever needed him, my cousin did not hold my hand through my transition. He respected my maturity, trusting me to look after myself and never meddling in my business. This level of independence was accompanied by the bittersweet reality that nobody was checking for me anymore. It was ultimately up to me – and only me – to take care of myself. From keeping myself hydrated to getting home safely, everything was my responsibility now. I sometimes felt overwhelmed by all the decisions I had to make just to get through each day in one piece. 

On the other hand, I fell madly in love with my own company. For the first time ever, my decisions wouldn’t directly affect anyone else. Today, some of my best times are spent alone attending concerts, dining out or sightseeing. The fact that I lived in New York City was the cherry on top of it all because fun new experiences were never hard to come by. I feel much more in control of my future as I continue to practice smart decision making and problem solving for my own well-being. 

5. Inner Strength

Whenever you seek peace, search within first.

A year later I found an apartment in New Jersey, where I currently reside. For the first time since college, I feel stable and secure. Now that I’m finally settled, I have time to reflect on everything it has taken me get here. Of everything I’ve learned along the way, the most significant realization is how adaptable I am to change. With every relocation, I went through stages of feeling frightened, discouraged and insecure. I overcame challenges I had never even imagined facing. Each time, I emerged wiser and more confident than before.

I also learned how much strength it takes to be honest with myself and speak up when it’s time to ask for help. Without the encouragement and support of my friends and family, I would not have had the opportunity to change my situation the way that I did. Additionally, I was strong enough to remain ambitious when it felt easier to depend on others. In the moments when I wanted to give up, I didn’t allow myself to fall stagnant. 

I may never be fully comfortable with the unknown, but at least I now have a better understanding of how to embrace it. I am more comfortable taking risks. Because I forced myself out of my comfort zone again and again, I am aware of the power that I possess to change my own life. Now, whenever a change is in my horizon, I can say, “Wow, I can’t believe I [x]… If I could do THAT, I can definitely handle [y].”

The desire to make a change may lie deep inside of you, and if it does, consider taking action. Personally, my journey required me to make huge life and environmental changes, but yours may not need that much effort. Every single day, we are required to choose between familiarity and the unknown. I challenge you to choose the unknown a little more often. You never know what lessons you may learn. 

Think about the one thing you’re afraid to leave your comfort zone to do. In your journal, list all the reasons why you haven’t done it. Next, list all the good things that could happen if you do it. Which list is longer? If a change is on your horizon, are you willing to take the first step towards it?

What awaits you just beyond your comfort zone?

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