Why Every 20-Something Needs To Move At Least Once Before Settling Down

4/3/14 11:59AM EST

Why Every 20 Something Needs To Move At Least Once Before Settling Down  Why Every 20 Something Needs To Move At Least Once Before Settling Down

Image via Unsplash/Nicholas Swanson

The real truth of adulthood is that it usually doesn’t begin until you walk across the stage with diploma in hand. The next step in life is to find a job and set off on the next journey to build the career you’ve worked 18 years to prepare for. For most people, the easiest and often most comfortable choice is to job-hunt right at home. It makes sense: You know the people, the roads, the restaurants, the overall culture. Finding a job and being faced with the hard fact that Life is now in session is difficult enough — why not make things easier by surrounding yourself with what you already know? All this is true, but these are your twenties. This is the time of your life when you really and truly have no other responsibilities other than taking care of yourself and making yourself happy — not to mention preparing for the second round of adulthood when other people enter the picture. Settling down isn’t for now, it’s for later — when you’re done “self-exploring” and all that. Now is the time to get out, move away, escape home, live somewhere new. If you need to know why other than the fact that it’s just a great idea, here are a few reasons why every 20-something needs to move at least once before settling down.

You’ll Learn How to Socialize Again

Grade school is pretty much social hour for eight hours a day, and it takes little more than walking down the hall to see your friends-now-turned-family in college. It doesn’t take a lot to make friends or date when you’re in school, but how do you deal with socializing when you’re thrown into an office and people have their own lives outside the nine-to-five? Staying in the same city as where you grew up or went to school is the best way to suppress your ability to learn to socialize again. If you’re not moving, chances are someone else is, and the people you know won’t be in the same place forever  — who will your group be when everyone parts their ways? It’s easy when you have your best friends to hang out with, but moving away and being forced to meet new people can be one of the most rewarding challenges you’ll experience. You’ll meet people from different walks of life, build life-lasting bonds, and mostly, challenge yourself to overcome an uncomfortable situation. The reality is that after school, meeting people isn’t as easy as attending a mixer or being paired up for a class project — it takes effort and social skills to go up to strangers at a networking event or join an online dating site — something you’ll never develop sticking around at home.

You’ll Become More Self-Reliant

The best thing about being a kid is that there’s always someone to help you. Whether it’s your parents, teachers or your best friends, someone is always there to get you out of a mess and tell you that everything is going to be A-okay. Adulthood isn’t always like that, and the best way to rip the bandage on this reality check is moving away. When you’re settling down and creating a little life for yourself in which people come to rely on you, it’s going to be a rude awakening if you can’t even rely on yourself to get through the sticky messes. Staying close to home is the perfect crutch for when it’s time to grow up and stop being dependent on friends and family to help you with things like paying the bills and learning how have a full-time job and eat healthy and go to the gym — all at the same time. Having to do it all alone can be scary at first, but there’s no better way of realizing how much you’re capable of doing on your own until you have to do it. Moving to a new place where everything is foreign is the perfect training to becoming an adult, and the sense of self-assuredness you’ll gain knowing you can do things on your own is a priceless reward only those who’ve done it will ever know.

You’ll Become More Adaptable to Life

The one thing that people only learn the hard way is that almost nothing ever goes your way in life. Especially when it comes to planning out “the perfect future,” curve balls are sure to come your way. Losing your job, dealing with mortgage payments, starting and ending relationships — these are all normal issues adults deal with everyday. Without the right amount of flexibility and maturity to adapt to life’s problems, dealing with even the most common everyday issues can be a feat. One of the first things you’ll learn moving to a new city is that things can go wrong at any given second, and you just have to figure out how to deal with it. Find a new way to work when your usual route is blocked due to construction; suck it up for the harshest of winters when all you know is warm weather year-round; compromise the washer/dryer unit for a more coveted location when apartment hunting on your modest budget. All these new decisions you’ll have to make are a great training tool for when life gets even more complicated and you realize that the ability to adapt to change and hardship is a prized skill to have.

Moving to a new city isn’t the only way to grow into adulthood, but it’s definitely one of the most accessible. When you can’t afford to take a year off and travel to figure out “who you are”, you can always pick up your things and move a city away. Take the step into the unknown while you have few responsibilities and endless possibilities — you have your entire life to settle down, why would you do it now?


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