YAY! You have a new job and in a new city. Perhaps, your spouse may have a new job in a new city. OR you are going to achieve a degree in a new city. Whatever the case may be for you, you are moving. You are moving and you are excited. You may also be scared. You may also be sad. You may even be feeling all of the above feelings and emotions previously listed. Whatever the case may be, while chaotic, your mental health matters when moving.
When I was in college, I knew that I wanted to get out of the South. As someone who truly embraced and thrived off of diversity, I wanted to be in a city that was more diverse, embraced, and accepted the beauty of diversity. I have family in the Washington, DC area and friends, too. So, I knew that Washington, DC could just very well be the place for me. While I LOVED my time in North Carolina, I longed to live up North instead. Flash forward to March 2021, and I made the decision even without a job lined up then to move in with my Papa into his apartment-like space in the Washington, DC area. Just a few weeks later in then-April 2021, I got a job in the Washington, DC area. My ticket was essentially purchased and ready for me to roll on up to the Washington, DC area. I was *finally* moving back up North. Life is good.
Flash forward to May 15, 2021 and I graduated from my now alma mater, Meredith College. I now have to go through my entire apartment on my college campus and move out. It’s, then, May 16, 2021, and my apartment is empty. My entire contents of my belongings is in a U-Haul trailer and 3 different cars. Everything barely fit jam-packed into all of the vehicles and U-Haul trailer, but it works. We, then, make our way to the Washington, DC area. I am walking around my campus moments before. I am emotional. My friend Chandler stops by. We are both emotional. I, then, make my way up North and am barely looking back.
May 17, 2021 is a high day. I am high on pride and excitement that I recently graduated from college. I am filled with gratitude for the extraordinary friendships, family members, relationships made with fellow Meredith College staff and professors of mine, and excited for my upcoming job that I will start that July. My Papa and I go to Walmart and Giant – a local Washington, DC area and nearby states’ grocery store chain. I am enamored with ALL of the beautiful selections of items, when compared to the Food Lion and even Harris Teeter in Raleigh, North Carolina. I am more than excited and those high exciting and feelings of pride and gratitude remain in my heart all week.
Just a few weeks later, I start to miss the life that I used to have. The life where I was living right by my classmates and friends in my on-campus apartment. I didn’t have many friends nearby and since I hadn’t started my job yet, I didn’t have enough money to travel to go see others until I started working. I felt down and sad. At the same time, I was late to the game to learning how to drive and had yet to get my drivers license. I was pretty bummed. I couldn’t really explore my new town much, most of my friends were in North Carolina, and I pretty much had empty days filled with nothing to do. My mental health plummeted. Not to mention, I had TONS AND TONS of boxes to unpack and reorganize.
Moving is stressful to begin with. You’re going through several boxes that may or may not be organized based on its contents and location within your new place. You have lots of things to do and places to be and people to see. At the same time, you may miss your old home and are processing being away from your friends and former community. I dealt with all of it. I would hear my friends tell me about all of their exciting Summer and/or Fall plans – none of which I could attend due to my new home’s location being an hours’ drive away. It sucked. It was hard. My mental health plummeted. My life was filled with stress, sadness, anger, and uncertainty.
Once I started my job at the end of July, things got much better. My days were busy and I could utilize the skillset that I acquired from my Mathematics degree and minors in Data Science, Statistics, and Website Development. Soon after I started my job, I got my driver’s license and was able to go places on my own (needless to say, I shopped wayyyy too much at first haha!). I also got my first-ever paycheck, too. My hard work was paying off. But, still, I missed my old community at Meredith College and within the Raleigh, North Carolina area. It sucked. When you move you have to essentially build up your community yet again. Building up communities in new cities and homes can take multiple years. It felt and still feel elongated due to the lingering effects of COVID-19. It isn’t easy, but it’s reality.
Even almost a year after moving to the Washington, DC area, I still have yet to grow a community here. COVID-19 has made it much harder to build a network and community for everybody – NOT just me. When moving during COVID-19 it’s much harder. Mental health can take a toll on us all. Remember to take time for YOU, moving or not. And, most importantly, know that things WILL get better.
XOXO – Katie <3
Oh, I completely agree that moving impacts my mental health. It always feels like a gargantuan task. I can’t imagine what it was like for you to move during Covid! Wishing you luck in building your community.