I’ve been through a transitional period in my life recently, and while I can’t say I’ve got it all figured out, it’s got me thinking about the last time I went through a period of significant change like this. In retrospect, it was probably when I left the best nation in the UK 🏴 to come to what I now wholeheartedly believe to be one of, if not the best, cities in the UK 🐝
After almost 3 years (!!!), I feel pretty settled here in Manchester, but I still remember how lost-at-sea it can feel to be in a brand new place, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the matter for anyone who might be in the same boat.
Making friends as an adult is HARD
No one tells you this in school, but when you’re a grownup™, building a network of friends is really difficult, especially when you don’t have anyone around that you already know. There can be a lot of excitement associated with change, but also a lot of fear. Fear of loneliness and isolation is very understandable, especially when moving to a new place where you have to build a network around you from scratch.
I would be a big fat liar if I said I really know how to resolve this one for you, dear reader, as since my big move I’ve been lucky enough to spend my days in a workplace with some of my closest friends, and I’m very aware that this isn’t the case for a lot of people. However, I do think that having a workplace that has a really social atmosphere can be an incredible boost when it comes to carving out a space for yourself in a new city.
You don’t have to have it all figured out
As someone who’s never been a type-A, five-year plan, knows-my-goals-and-sticks-to-them kind of person, it can be really easy to feel like you’re not doing enough to get to the “next stage” in life. I know everyone says not to compare yourself to others, but when all you see is “new job!”, “she said yes!” and “got the keys to my first home!”, it can be pretty bloody hard not to!
Sometimes life goes in a direction you wouldn’t have ever expected for yourself, and you find your goals looking very different to the way they did before. It can feel like you’re taking two steps forward and one step back, or even that you’re standing completely still, but that’s fine, promise! Your twenties are such a strange time because almost everyone you know is in a different place, and honestly, while it can make it a nightmare to sync everyone’s calendars, it does make this part of your life really special!
Even if you don’t know exactly what it is you want from your future though, you’ll definitely start to pick out the parts of your life you love, whether it’s people, places, friends or parts of your job over time. Keep a note of them, and when you start to see a pattern or two, that’s when you might find goals you didn’t even know you had! If you’re always looking ahead though, chances are you’ll miss the good things in your life right now, so slow down, relax, and enjoy the chaos that is being twenty-something!
Self-love is the strongest tool you have
Being in a new place is tough, but when you genuinely enjoy your own company, it’s a hell of a lot easier to do the things you want to do! Building self-love is hard, and I really don’t think that anyone ever loves themself unequivocally all of the time, but the closer you can get, the better you’ll feel, and the more it will spread into your everyday life. Plus, you can always fake it until you make it – you might not think it would work but with enough repetition it really, really does!
In the words of a sound I heard on TikTok recently: “This is my brain, I can think whatever I want!”. Obviously, this is never as true as we’d like it to be, and things like anxiety, doubt and insecurities are always going to creep in, but really, you can tell yourself whatever you want, so why not tell yourself nice things? If you’re struggling, however, there are always options – speaking to friends and family can be so helpful, but if you find yourself far from home and without a close support network, like so many people who move away on their own, speaking to a professional can also be an incredible tool to get things off your chest and start to understand yourself more.
Honesty is always the best policy
Whether it’s in relationships, with new friends or when navigating issues in the workplace, nothing will slow you down or throw you off track faster than being anything other than your complete, genuine, and most honest self. Lying to yourself or others, no matter how well-intentioned will, at best, get you to somewhere you didn’t really want to be in the first place. So why bother? Being honest and upfront is a concept that lots of people struggle with, but it’s one that people respect for that reason too.
This isn’t to say that a white lie every now and then is a terrible thing or that you should throw all sense of decorum out and say whatever you want to whoever you want whenever you want, but instead to be upfront, proactive and honest wherever you can. This might mean saying “She’s just not that into you”, being frank about your feelings on a work issue or, god forbid, telling a friend what you really think of the clothes they show you on ASOS 😬
I want to end by saying that I have no idea if any of this is definitively good or bad advice – whoops. Working things out in your twenties is hard, and I sure as hell don’t have it down yet, nor do I think I will anytime soon, but this is advice that has helped me on my way, so maybe it’ll help someone else too! 🤞