Today marks a couple of “anniversary” dates for me. It was exactly 5 years ago on this date, that I got into my car in my little ol’ small country town in NY and set out to drive across the country and move to Los Angeles, CA. It was definitely a life-changing experience. Also, exactly 4 years ago on this date, I got on a plane and took my first solo flight to another country. I have been to other countries before, but usually with a group of people. This was all by myself to go visit my sister in England. All this nostalgia got me thinking about how I have changed in the last 5 years.
1) Like I mentioned already, just moving to LA was a life changer for me. I had never been to the West Coast, except for my interview for the job I was moving out here for. I had always lived in NY and thought I was an East Coast girl. If I had to move, I thought it would be somewhere like Florida or North Carolina, but never all the way out to California. I sold some of my things, boxed up the rest, and set out across the country to start my life all over, not knowing anyone or anything out here. I was following my heart to come out here for what I thought would be very short-term, to work with abused and neglected teenage girls who were also pregnant or just became mothers. I wanted to make a difference in their lives and help them learn how to become independent and take care of themselves and their babies. But it also taught me how to be self-sufficient and fiercely independent as well.
2) Taking the solo flight to England was also a life changer. Just having confidence in myself to make the trip and having no one to help me deal with customs and all things involved in international travel was an interesting experience. But it allowed me to gain confidence in myself to be able to do things on my own, no matter how big or small. I now am more open to going out to eat by myself, going to movies alone, going to events like hockey games alone, random road trips alone, etc.
3) I have become emotionally stronger and no longer allow people, especially men, to walk all over me or treat me poorly. I think before I would allow men (or others) to treat me bad, use me, yell at me, etc and would not really stand up for myself, and would find myself settling, just because I wanted to feel like I was loved or was in a relationship. Over time, and through much heartache, I have learned that I matter and I am worthy of the right kind of love, and deserve to be treated with respect. My feelings and desires matter, and since I have learned I can be okay on my own, I no longer feel like I have to settle.
4) I have learned who my true friends are. One of the hardest things about moving, is leaving behind some of the ones you love. It is hard to keep in touch, especially as we get older and LIFE gets in the way. Most of my friends back home have gotten married and have recently become parents, so they are in a much different and busier place in life. And I think that “out of sight, out of mind” also applies. When you don’t see someone for a long period of time, you tend to forget about them, and often lose touch. The same holds true for people that you can see on a regular basis, such as at work or church, or were even in a small group with. You shared your lives together for a time and then life happens, and they are gone, most of the time without warning or a word as to why. You sit around for awhile wondering what happened and if you will ever get an answer, and eventually you again learn who your real friends are and move on. I am thankful for things like Facebook and Skype, which have allowed me to keep in touch with family and close friends, but I do get sad sometimes when I “see” some of those friends that I used to be close with update their Facebook status, and I am not really part of their life anymore.
5) My expectations are not Your expectations. This was, and still can be, a hard lesson to learn. It’s not that I want control of everything (yes, I am a bit of a control freak, but I really appreciate some structure and a plan and think some things are common sense), but I have learned, especially living with 5 other people, that we all have different views on life and how to keep a home, and even how to be a friend and interact with others. Every single person in the world has been raised with unique values and morals and expectations set (or even NOT set) by their parent(s). Sometimes you embrace those expectations and carry them out into your own life when you become an adult, or you go the opposite way and rebel against how you were brought up. It has been a humbling experience at times, but it has also helped me learn how to let go a bit of my expectations of others, and has forced me to be more open with communication. I hate confrontation, but I am learning to not be so passive and to appropriately deal with a situation when it arises. This applies in all situations, not just home life, but at work, at church, etc.
I know that God isn’t done working in my heart and growing me into the person He wants me to be. Though I am not always a fan of change (the control freak in me), I know that some change is good, and I could always use some refining. I look forward to the next 5 years, seeing how I change and grow, and what experiences await me.
Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights. ~Pauline R. Kezer
If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.
What about you? What are 5 ways you have changed in the past 5 years?