Thursday, March 26, 2009

Moving Away and Moving On

When I was 16, my family and I moved from Hingham, MA to Stony Brook, NY. I left everything I'd ever known and started over. We moved for my dad's job. He wasn't happy where he was, and wanted to find somewhere new. He's a rabbi, and that's one of the few jobs where you don't really have many other options if you're looking for a change. Fortunately, my dad and I have always been close, and I know he's great at what he does, so I supported him. However, this just means that I didn't go kicking and screaming, I didn't say I would hate him forever, and I didn't rebel to get back at him. It doesn't mean that I was happy about moving. I'm sure there are a lot of people who have moved countless times, but this one time was major for me. It taught me a lot about myself, about friendship, and about making the most of new opportunities.

As a teenager, I was never really part of a set group. I had a good number of friends, and I just kind of floated between groups and tried to spend time with everyone. Over the years, I had a few really close friends, and we had some pretty amazing times together. Right before I moved, I had a going away party. All of my friends were there and everyone took part in making me a scrapbook to bring with me to my new home. We all promised to stay in touch and I intended to follow through on this promise. The thing that I didn't realize then is that teenagers are unreliable. Try as they might, there's just too much going on in those formative years.

For the first few months, I was pretty miserable. I had gone from a four grade high school with 800 kids, to a three grade high school with 1600 kids. Everyone at my new school had known each other forever, and I was the token new kid. I'd love to say that it was the stress of adjusting to this new place that caused me to break my promise, but really, I sucked at keeping in touch. I tried for a while, and got frustrated when my efforts weren't reciprocated. My best friend was the only one who really made the effort. Despite a couple of bumps in the road during college, due to stupid miscommunication and an overreaction on my part, she and I are still great friends, and I am so grateful to have her in my life. As for pretty much everyone else, Facebook friendship is as far as it goes at this point.

At the beginning, I was pretty hurt. Why didn't my friends want to make the effort to keep in touch with me? Out of sight, out of mind? I was all alone in a new place with very few friends, and all I wanted was to know that the people I had grown up with still cared about me. In retrospect, just because we fell out of touch doesn't mean they didn't care. We were juniors in high school, with crushes, college applications, extracurriculars and countless other things to worry about, and keeping in touch takes a lot of time and energy.

Looking back now, I know the experience taught me a lot. I am stronger than I give myself credit for. A new situation is a perfect opportunity to become a better version of yourself. It's not worth dwelling on things you have no control over. When you're thrown into a new situation, take the opportunity to meet new people, be more outgoing, try new things. Be grateful for the friends you have, the ones who truly care about you. It really is quality over quantity.

Sometimes, I look through Facebook photos of people I used to know and wish that things had turned out differently. Part of me wishes that we had never moved, but then I would never have met some of the people who are important to me now. I have amazing friends, most of whom I've met since moving. Some of them even live far away and still keep in touch. You never know, somewhere down the road I could reconnect with my old friends. I still miss them sometimes and I proabably always will. I guess what I'm trying to say in this post is that new situations don't have to be all scary and negative. Like most things, it's what you make of it, and chances are that you'll look back and find that you're a stronger person as a result.

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