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kaomungai's avatar

Leaving what I know -- How do I get over my jitters?

Asked by kaomungai (133points) December 19th, 2010

Things couldn’t be more splendid for the first time in my life. I am blessed with a plethora of great friends, a nice apartment with a charming house mate. My once very rocky relationship with my mom has matured into something sweet. I love where I live. If I need anything or want to do a project I know just where to find things and who to ask to make it happen. While I have extensively traveled all my life (call it wanderlust if you will), I am nervous of leaving what I know here in this region.

For years, I have worked in the non profit sector to make a living. Well, economy being what it is—our wonderful organization had lay offs. But, I feel like this is the best thing that could have happened to me. I am taking this opportunity not just to explore all the creative pursuits I would only allow in my free time but to also go back to college and finish my degree. I am awaiting the responses from my West Coast applications and am working on the East Coast ones this month.

My fear comes at this point. What if I do get into my East Coast schools and try to move? I have lived in California for almost all my life. We are a bit relaxed at most things and I fear sticking out both in school, my politics, the possibility of not find work, or making friends. What if I don’t get this part of me together before I am 40? What if age at a ridiculous level in the next few years and stick out even more? My heart starts beating crazy and I get scared of missed opportunities I may be leaving here.

To add to all of these fears, I am worried I am moving to pursue this smart, charming, and sweet man I was dating this past year. I had already in my mind that I may move to the East Coast and to put in applications. But, when things ended two months ago, I wanted more than ever to be out there with him. He is one of the three cities out there in which I am applying for school.

I won’t get my responses from schools until April at the earliest. I am scared of leaving everything but excited to finally explore this important chapter of my life. I know it will be good for me regardless.

How do I get over these jitters? What do I say to myself to be excited and not frightened? What exercises have others done in which to be living in the present and going for everything while you are in the prime of your life?

Thank you for reading such a long post. I know it must sound so ridiculous coming from a ‘grown’ woman.

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14 Answers

augustlan's avatar

Ooh, an adventure! You’ll never know if you don’t try. The coasts are more alike politically than you might think… the country is pretty darn liberal on both its edges. Even if you end up in an area where your views are in the minority, there are bound to be some people who share them. Heck, I’m about as liberal as they come, and I live in West Virginia! Anyway, people are people, no matter where they’re from… I promise we don’t bite. :)

To calm your fears, try to remember that nearly everything you do can be undone if it turns out to have been a bad move for you. Good luck on your adventure!

partyparty's avatar

Try to think of it as a new adventure. You are moving forwards in your life, embrace it.
You obviously have lots of friends where you are, and I am sure you will make new friends again. You sound like such a sociable person.
If it doesn’t work out you can always move back to your roots. Good luck and enjoy, enjoy enjoy!!

janbb's avatar

You sound like a very positive grounded person who know what excites you and what the pitfalls are. Although you won’t hear about the colleges until April, that also means you don’t have to decide anything yet. Try to calm your jitters by not living out all the possibilities until you know what they are. (I am still trying to learn to do this.) When you know what the choices actually are, you can explore hte opportunities more realistically and decide which will work for you. Meanwhile, enjoy what you have now – and realize that being a bit jittery about change is part of living. (By the way, Bi-Coastalism is a treatable condition.)

And welcome to Fluther – one of the best sites on the web!

marinelife's avatar

You cannot completely expect to banish the jitters; you are facing the unknown.

You need to just think of your current good place in life as a strong basis for moving forward in your life.

You won’t have to worry about your politics or laid back self as you will be at a college, which is a bastion of liberalism. You will find like minds wherever you go whatever your persuasion.

Embrace the possibilities of a move. Tell yourself that you will enjoy the historic buildings found on the East Coast and the sense of history. That you will enjoy the cultural richness of East Coast cities.

Tell yourself that you are finishing school: a long-held goal.

Good luck. Keep us posted on how you do.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Learn how to focus in on yourself, perhaps through meditation and yoga. The constant in your life is yourself. “Wherever you go, there you are” means that no matter what the change in circumstances are, you will be your constant. Appreciate the great friend you have inside you, because she will always be with you.

Like @marinelife said, there is a cultural richness to the East Coast, and there are also a lot of young people. Opportunities lie there, and in the midwest.

JLeslie's avatar

Just go! It is wonderful to live in a new place, learn and experience new things. If you hate it you can always go back, but you will do so with having learned more about yourself, what makes you happy. You will appreciate having the things which are important to you, whether it is that you move and see you actually like it in the new place better than the old, or vice versa. Every new city has positives and negatives. I feel very sure you will make new friends, there are nice people everywhere! You just need to make a little effort to meet them.

I am not clear if you are talking about northeast or southeast? The northeast will have many people with similar attitudes most likely to yours, if you fit how I generalize west coast people in terms of politics and atitudes. But, maybe you don’t fit the stereotypes in my head? Still, the coasts are so populated that we have all kinds out east.

JLeslie's avatar

I wanted to add that this is one of the wonderful things about living in a large country like America. We have mountains, and prairies, and oceans, and desert, and tropics, and people with many different backgrounds, and each region has its own uniquiness, and as an American we can live and travel within what is still comfortably “home” to us and experence all if these different things. It is an incredible opportunity we have, something to embrace. As someone said above, it is an adventure. You will not be on the other side of the world without communication with the people who are closest to you. You will be a 5 hour flight away, or a click on facebook.

I understand being apprehensive about change, most people are, but try to focus on what you are going towards, not what you are leaving behind. Have you been out to visit the schools and cities you are possibly considering? Being familar with the area might make things much easier, see if it feels like a place you want to live, before just moving out there. My most difficult moves were ones where I had never been to the city before. Feeling all of a sudden in a place I had to learn from scratch. I find learning parts of the city, but being able to go back home, becoming familiar in a small dose helped me a lot. And be sure to look for the things you love to do, and live in a place you can keep doing them, tennis, swimming, a certain type of club, try to continue parts of your routine that bring you joy. Look up those things before you go.

jerv's avatar

I had a few jitters when I moved from East to West (NH to Seattle, to be exact) but I found out that most of that was for nothing.

As far as sticking out for your politics and such, the upper East Coast is generally open-minded and laid-back there. Many states either approve of or turn a blind eye to same-sex couples, VT voted a Socialist (Bernie Sanders) into Congress, etcetera. Being from CA makes you a lot more like a New Englander than if you were from the Midwest, or South

As you go South, people tend to be more friendly but also more Conservative and less open-minded. (I’m not saying they are xenophobes, merely that they are less open than the Northeast, which is very Liberal about some things.) Personally, I have never felt comfortable much further South than DC, so Virginia is about as far down the coast as I would go.

People in New England are a bit more distant at first and may seem unfriendly, but it just takes a bit of time to warm up. Just remember that most people on the street are just people on the street and not a friend waiting to meet and you should be fine. As for he South, they are quite friendly; enough so that my Yankee ass felt a perpetual invasion of personal space. People in San Diego were friendlier than I was used to, but Southern Hospitality was a hell of a culture shock for me. You would probably do just fine though since you are not used to the same surliness I am.

I would recommend that you stay off the roads until you learn the local customs though. Little things like the fact that they don’t always change lanes to pass you, and in the Boston area, parking spaces are worth more than your life. And this time of year, it is quickly apparent who was born in the Northeast and who wasn’t; natives can drive in the snow. Around the middle of the coast, the driving is more sedate but enforcement of things like speed limits is a little more prevalent, and there are parts of Georgia where you want to stay off the interstate unless you are prepared to engage the warp drive.

In general though, you should have no problems fitting in along most of the East Coast. It really isn’t that different from CA. I had zero problems fitting in in San Diego during the years I was stationed there, and found them remarkably similar (aside from CA being friendlier).

kaomungai's avatar

Oh you are all so lovely. Thank you for taking the time to answer and share your experiences, advice, and thoughts about the East Coast. I feel very lucky to find Fluther and the thoughtful individuals here. <3 I hope it is ok that I am writing you all at once rather than each at a time. I didn’t expect such feedback.

For the East Coast, I am applying to are in DC, Boston, and NYC. I know I enjoyed all my trips to the Big Apple.My free time in Cali has always been spent/creating/encouraging musicians, artists, and writers so NYC is an easy fit for me. I know exactly where I can hang out, eat, and lose myself. Boston wasn’t bad but I didn’t get a read on it the 3 times I have visited. That in itself was a bit perplexing. However, I do have a couple of transplant friends so it makes everything a little more welcoming. The bulk of the schools I am looking at are in DC. The first time I went (which was for work) I didn’t like at all. I was on crutches and people were so very mean on the Metro not letting me sit down or accusing me of faking an injury. I am pretty sure that isn’t how people generally are but it was sure off putting. My subsequent trips to the DMV area have been delightful. Though, it may have been influenced by the man I am smitten over currently (please cue Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas’ song) and meeting a few new friends. But, I always feel —err, less than polished ? I also don’t know many off artistic places that are dive-esque or non mainstream. Maybe, those are things I should go hunting for or help develop if I do go.

I am also going to school as a non-traditional transfer student. So, my undergrad classmates are probably 10–15 years younger than I am. I am blessed I don’t look anywhere near my age (for now) but I know I am older and I feel a little uneasy whenever people find out I am 35. As I am filling out my applications and essays, there are parts of me wondering if I will get into school or if the powers that be may think I am ‘too old’ or ‘not ready’ and then giving me a rejection letter.

So—age, unfamiliarity with the arts scene, and just plain old moving are a little intimidating. Did any of you transfer as an older student to college? Or perhaps have you had older students in your classes—did it make you uneasy?

augustlan's avatar

Welcome to Fluther, @kaomungai! I’m actually from the DC area, and live about 2 hours away from there now. There are a lot of art-centric communities not far from DC, and plenty of live theater and music venues right in the city. I think you’d be able to find what you’re looking for there or close by.

As to your age… Psh. Don’t fret it! I know a man in his 60s who just finished grad school. Go for it, and don’t worry about that at all. :)

kaomungai's avatar

@augustian—Thank you for the welcome. I am really loving the Fluther community. I’ll at least have all of you when I go.

You know that is absolutely wonderful to hear about the artistic communities.<3 The people I have met were in policy, public health, or technology. I just couldn’t seem to find (through them) the spaces I would have kindred spirits.

And, thank you for the push and the quick anecdote (hope I used that correctly) about the grad student. HUGS

augustlan's avatar

If you do end up in DC, let me know. There are actually at least two members here who graduated from art schools and now live and work in DC. I’ll be happy to introduce you, and give you more specifics about the area.

jerv's avatar

The arts are alive and thriving in Boston too. Just two seconds on Harvard Square will show you that. I am not surprised that you had a hard time getting a good read though; it is very diverse and people keep to themselves a bit.

JLeslie's avatar

I am from the DC area too, @augustlan and I went to high school together. I also am in NYC quite often and have relatives who live there. DC is fantastic in many ways, but I do think NY generally is a little bit better at helping others and friendliness. But, what I would say is don’t go by how strangers treat you in a city, because as I said there are nice people everywhere, and I feel confident you will make your own circle of friends, and it will be fine. Do you live in a major city in Cali? Because, I would say the biggest differences around the country are big city compared to small city, more tha region of the US. Both cities are incredibly diverse, so many interesting people from all over the world. DC and the surrounding areas are beautiful, cherry blossom in April, no buildings are taller than the Washington Monument, all of the Smithosonian museums. NYC also has so much to offer, always something to do, free concerts in Central Park in the summer, museums, great food, and central park provides complete relief from the cement when you crave it. Both cities, have people from everywhere, so it is not like you are the girl from Cali that sticks out like a sore thumb. And, California is perceived very well by east coasters, so there is no negative prejudgement to worry about. The most negative thing might be they assume you are obsessed with being “green” but the east coast leans in that direction also anyway. You probabaly have more stereotypes in your head about east coasters than they have about you. I do agree if you are into the arts, NY is probably a better fit.

There are some tips about living in the city that are go to know, etiquette tips, so others don’t get frustrated with you. I think many times when people have a bad experience in NY, saying people were rude, they were in the persons way maybe? Things like stay right if you are standing on an escalator, and keep your feet in when sitting on the subway, and have your metro card ready to swipe when you get to the stand, be ready to order your lunch when you get to the counter. Fast pace. Still, no excuse for someone not giving up their seat when you were on crutches. There are seats for handicapped on subways and busses in NYC that someone must give up for someone who needs it. But, that happened in DC right? Horrible. And I was raised by people who were raised in the Bronx and grew up in DC and I would have released my seat to you in a second, and given the man next to me a dirty look haha. Actually, whenever I do get up for a pregnant woman or an older person, usually then a man nearby gets a clue and stands up so I can stay seated. I guess maybe that sort of thing is getting worse now that everyone is truly in their own world, with ipods and blackberries, less aware of people around them.

Lastly, some great things about DC, NY, and Boston is you can go between the cities by train easily, NY to DC if you take the fast train is just over 3 hours, the slow train more like 4, so no matter where you are you will be able to explore all of it. And, flights up and down the east coast are very cheap. Easy to vacation in FL for a long weekend to get out of the winter cold. The ocean is not far, and either are the mountains. Lastly, flights to parts of Europe are the same distance as Cali practically.

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