Q: My employer offered me a promotion, which requires me to move across the country. The opportunity is too good to pass up. I’m in my mid-40s and this will be my first time moving out of state so I’m nervous about making such a big change. I know it will be hard to say goodbye to friends and family in Minneapolis. How can I prepare and adapt?
It’s natural for the mind to spin as you sort through all the logistics of moving, not to mention the social and emotional impact. In many ways you’re well situated compared to others who move because you already have a job and are familiar with the organization. Depending on the size of your company, it’s common for an employer to pack your boxes and help you find new housing. If this is your scenario, be relieved you don’t have to deal with those hassles. You’ll also have the benefit of being automatically introduced to a new community of people. Whether these are folks you’d like to do a happy hour with is another issue!
If you’re an extravert it will be much easier to make friends. For extraverts, meeting new people is like a sport and they can’t wait to jump into the game. If you’re an introvert, all the new names and small talk will be taxing. On the flip side, you might enjoy the solace at the end of your workday without the usual social commitments you had back home. The best antidote to feeling lonely or homesick is to put energy toward finding your new “tribe.” Join a recreational sports league, art class, gym or parenting group. The poet Rumi wrote: “Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.” The more you devote to rebuilding community, the more it will come back to you.
You allude to this being harder because of your age. Sure, we don’t have the same zest and naivety as we did fresh out of college, but being in your mid-40s doesn’t mean the world isn’t still your oyster. You never want to let your life get too small and be confined to the bubble that is your comfort zone. Aren’t you curious to see what else awaits you beyond the Midwest? Every city has its own unique personality. Think of yourself as a sociologist, investigating the disposition of this new land. Observe the differences in dialect, architecture, cuisine, entertainment and green space. Learning your way around the city could be confusing, amusing or some combination of the two. This is all based on your perspective. If you go into the experience free from expectation with the eyes of a child, the process might feel more intriguing than daunting.
Tips before you go: Send out an email to friends and family announcing your impending move and new address. Heck, throw yourself a cozy going-away party so you can say ‘goodbye for now’ in person! Start your move with a road trip and make a playlist of your favorite songs. Alternate that with listening to a scintillating podcast like “Serial,” or an audio book. If you’re road tripping with kids, take your time and visit monuments and state parks along the way. Arrive at least a week early to give yourself time to deal with the nitty gritty of running errands and going to the DMV (everyone’s favorite). Tips once you’re there: Seek out free weekly papers that list activities such as concerts and other community events. Go on walks in the neighborhood, switching the route each time, so you can discover sneak-spots like little parks, murals or corner coffee shops. Splurge on new clothes for work and play, especially if the climate is different. After all, with this new position you need to dress the part.
Let’s not forget the big picture. Feel fortunate and honored that your employer likes you enough to promote you. Your hard work has paid off. Plus, this transition could also be the right time to make other changes in your life that didn’t make sense before. Your mid-40s is a swell time for a little reinvention. Better that than a mid-life crisis.
Dr. Rachel Allyn is a licensed psychologist in private practice. Learn more about her unique style of therapy at DrRachelAllyn.com. Send questions to Rachel@DrRachelAllyn.com.