I was eighteen when I moved from my small Tasmanian hometown to the city of Melbourne to start university, alone. I did’t know a single soul and I was both terrified and excited. Being a quiet person who is not excessively sociable made it even more intimidating. Two years on, I have a bunch of new friends and have grown in countless ways. This is why I think you should move to a new city alone.
You can be anyone you want to be
Moving to a new city gives you the opportunity to recreate yourself. If you cut your hair off and become a vegetarian (like I did), no one will bat an eyelid, because they haven’t put you in a preconceived box of who you’re supposed to be.
You become independent
Being alone means that you have no one to rely on but yourself. This doesn’t mean that you have no friends or that no one will help you if you need it, it means that you are free from dependence on others. You don’t need to spend your time on anyone else unless you choose to. You are the one who looks after yourself and organises your own life. This can be daunting but gives you a huge sense of pride and accomplishment when you know that you really can take care of yourself, especially if you have just come from living with your parents!
Conquer your fears and grow your confidence
Feel uncomfortable walking into a bar on your own? Intimidated by deciphering complicated public transport routes? Struggle to start a conversation with a stranger? Time to get out of your comfort zone and conquer your fears. You don’t need to worry about pleasing or impressing others when you have nothing to lose. It’s never as scary as you imagine it is; I am always surprised at the kindness and helpfulness of people I’ve never met before. With every fear you conquer, your confidence will grow.
You can do whatever you like, when you like
There’s no one to answer to but yourself. You can stay in with a pile of books and watch TV shows all weekend. You can go to the shops in your pyjamas at 9pm in pursuit of a sudden craving for olives. There’s no one to tell you that you can’t do these things.
Meet new people
Moving to a new city will give you an opportunity to meet new people with different worldviews and lifestyles. My hometown community had a large number of conservative Christians and tradespeople. Melbourne is full of left-wing activists, creatives and intellectual types. Befriending people from different backgrounds will open your eyes to a range of ideas that you may not have otherwise encountered. You’ll have long conversations about interests you never knew you had and you may even change your own way of thinking.
Everyone you will ever meet knows smoothing you don’t – Bill Nye
Another advantage of going somewhere alone is that other lonesome strangers are more likely to strike up a conversation with you, as you do not look as intimidating as a group of strangers. This gives you a better chance of meeting new people and making new connections.
Grow your self awareness
Thinkers from Socrates to Shakespeare have emphasised how important it is to “know thyself.” What this means in practical terms can be hard to figure out. A key part of it seems to be introspection and taking the time to reflect on one’s beliefs and way of life. Being in a new city takes your beliefs and ideas out of their usual context, and so it provides a new perspective on them. It also provides new opportunities to see how a place makes you feel and how you respond to the challenges it brings. Through this, moving to a new city allows you to become more self aware and increases your understanding of what it means to be you.
Embrace new opportunities
The city is full of opportunity. This is particularly apparent if you are coming from a small town or rural area. Whether you’re looking to advance your career, study something new or volunteer with a non-profit organisation, a new city will give you a fresh path for doing this. However, keep in mind that while there are many more opportunities in the city, there are also many more people also chasing those opportunities, and so it can be very competitive. I’ve always felt that the best and worst thing about the city is that there are many people with similar interests, goals and beliefs to you. While you might not feel as unique and special here, you will not feel alone.
Find your new favourite places
In a different city there are new streets to explore, new coffee shops to read in, new buildings to wonder at, new foods to indulge in. The thrill of discovering these is something that any traveller is addicted to.
You don’t know the people
You can walk down the street and there will be no acquaintances to stop you and force you to make tedious small talk. This is a dream for any introvert who grew up in a small town. No more living in fear of going to the supermarket!
Get lost in crowds
Some people also say that going solo in a crowd is lonely because you see everyone else with all of their friends and you have no one. I would disagree. I love being in crowds. I love watching other people interact. I love seeing what other people are wearing and doing and I love noticing the different ways that people smile. It also highlights your own insignificance in the big scheme of things, which can be a refreshing reminder in a world focused on individualism.
While I do not advocate running away from problems, I absolutely recognise that sometimes a place has nothing more to offer you. This means that it’s time to pack your bags and move on. Creating a new life for yourself in a different place can offer an escape from bad relationships and bad memories, and give you the opportunity to make new ones.
Chase that crazy dream
Always wanted to be a professional breakdancer? Ever dreamed of starting your own antiques shop? It’s time to go turn those dreams into goals and goals into reality. New place, new opportunities, new friends, new way of thinking. You have nothing to lose here, so nothing is stopping you from having a go. To conclude, it seems appropriate to quote the idol of my teenage years, Hilary Duff:
Why not, take a crazy chance
Why not, do a crazy dance
Have you ever moved somewhere new on your own? Leave a comment to share your experience.