Navigating A City Alone
Fresh out of college and eager for new experiences, I made the decision to live in Los Angeles. Granted, this was the city where I had gone to school, but outside of my university’s bubble, I knew very little about the city and didn’t have a blood relative for hundreds of miles. After college, everyone expected me to move home to my family and my native New York, but I turned away from the temptation of a safety net, and found myself navigating a new city and a new chapter of my life, completely alone.
I felt unprepared for so many aspects of my newfound life, from several new bills to figuring out what a gas light was when the heat wouldn’t work in my apartment. But the most difficult thing to grapple with was feeling foreign in my new city. I didn’t feel any connections or ties to the city, and it made me miss “home” more than ever.
Then I had a breakthrough. I added new activities to my routine and it completely changed my perspective. Soon after, I found myself thriving in Los Angeles.
Here are the four things I started doing that helped me navigate and conquer a new city on my own:
by christianna wiggins
Find your happy place
One of the toughest things about being in a new city, is feeling like you don’t have any real attachments to the city, and therefore, you don’t have a place that really makes it feel like home. Build an attachment by finding a place in the city that feels really personal to you. It can be a random park bench, a cute little coffee shop, or even your own apartment (decorating helps a ton!). Find a place that makes you happy and at peace by just being there.
Whenever you feel upset, unhappy, or lonely, just head to your happy place and you’ll feel refreshed.
People often attempt to make new friends through old friends. But if your experience is anything like mine, you may find that your old friends are too busy to incorporate new people into their daily lives, or they’re still figuring out that city at their own pace.
When alone and in doubt, try networking! Join a Facebook or LinkedIn group related to your field, or ask your company about networking groups within your organization, and attend official networking events. These help you feel productive, introduce you to new people, and may even lead you to a partner for your next passion project. Never underestimate the power of networking.
Join a recreational sport
The best thing I did within the first few months of graduating, was join a recreational dodgeball team. At first, it seemed pretty silly and I was scared of playing a sport that I hadn’t played since grade school, but being on a team as an adult is absolutely incredible.
In addition to meeting new friends, you’ll also build a support network that you can go to in lieu of having family physically there for you, and stay active. And it doesn’t have to be dodgeball, from kickball to bowling, there are several recreational teams to join nationwide. Find your niche and find your tribe.
Diaries are all the rage when you’re a pre-teen but adults often forget how therapeutic it is to write out our thoughts. Grab a blank journal and start detailing your days, writing out your successes, venting about life, and jotting down personal goals.
Journaling provides a healthy outlet to express emotions and keeps you focused. Why did you move to this city? What would you like to get out of being here? Write it all down and track your own progress, or use it as a reminder of your goals.