Mover's Guilt: What I Wish I Knew

Earlier this year, I made the decision to pack up and move from the San Francisco Bay Area to Seattle, Washington. In one sense, the decision was incredibly easy. I had visited Seattle numerous times, and with each visit I fell more in love with the Emerald City. But on the other hand, leaving the home I grew up in, my friends, family and support network was incredibly difficult.

Now that I’m settled in my second* Seattle apartment, I’ve started to find my groove and routine. There are days that are easy and days that are more challenging in terms of the emotional roller coaster that I find myself on. That being said, having an affinity for the dramatics, a movie, playlist or something ridiculous can alter that rollercoaster either way. (*By the way, why did nobody warn me that living in an apartment with someone over you is no lie, a living hell? Luckily my building still had units available on the top floor — made that swap in a hot minute.)

Here’s the skinny: 

I recently turned twenty-seven and until two months ago, I still lived at home with my Dad. I know for our generation, that’s more common than in generations past, but something still bothered me about it. I guess you could say I was experiencing a little twenty-something panic.


I was (quickly) approaching my late-twenties and although I was on the right career path, had a steady job and was slowly plugging away at my degree, I felt stuck — so the choice was made. There’s something the bloggers, vloggers and pollywoggers don’t tell you about moving away: the immense, chest-crushing, utterly exhausting guilt that comes with the decision to move away. 

With each conversation about the big news, I felt my soul’s sparkle fade just a little bit more. In a time that I felt I should have been overjoyed, I began dreading broaching the subject with my nearest and dearest. In the moment, I didn’t feel supported — and that honestly was a pretty big letdown. As time went on, I began questioning if I should call the whole thing off. It certainly would be easier than what I was experiencing, right?

This guilt made me feel like I was abandoning the people that I cared so deeply for. Hearing comments and questions like, “But that’s so far. Aren’t you going to miss your [family, friends, dog]? How long will you be gone for? Why do you need to move? What will [I, we] do without you? You know so-and-so is really going to miss you”  made these feelings even more prominent. I felt myself begin to get angry when hearing comments like these. It was kind of like, why are you shitting all over my plan, mixed with, well it’s happening so I’d advise you to get on board. My excitement turned disappointment turned sadness turned anger, led to tense situations with those closest to me, leaving both parties feeling a little defensive and bruised. 


The time came and the car was packed

The week before the move wasn’t the most fun. I was stressed about the move itself, coordinating the moving company, planning the fifteen-hour overnight drive and saying goodbye to my friends and family one-by-one. I had initially planned a going away party to make the process easier, but as that grew closer and my feelings about the move were still shaky, I figured it best to cancel. At the time, I didn’t think that I would have been able to manage any more potential “negative” feelings or comments. I envisioned it ending like any of Dorinda's parties in the Berkshires — and it's a decision I still stand behind to this day. 

Even though saying goodbye was hard (especially to a crying mom), I had a trip planned for three weeks after I moved — so I had to just keep repeating to myself (and everyone else) "it’s just three weeks!" The drive was brutal, and I have to give a very special thank you shout-out to Danielle for playing co-pilot for the ride. 

The first weekend was a whirlwind. I was awake 39 hours straight, after driving overnight, unpacking, shopping and getting the essentials setup (aka my new Leesa mattress.) Naturally, after an excruciatingly long day, we needed tacos. As one that needs to watch TV while eating, I was DEVASTATED to find out that I shattered the screen of my brand new 50" flat screen. It was the cherry on top and the moment we decided long hot showers and bed was the only resolution to the day. 

Dropping Danielle, my best friend of ten years and confidant, off at the airport was very hard. Saying my first goodbye in California was like a snag in a sweater, and each one after unraveled me a little more. Saying goodbye to Danielle at departures terminal and the drive away from SeaTac left me feeling like that sweater was gone and I was naked and alone. I had a very Laguna Beach moment driving away. It was a bittersweet ending to a long and emotional weekend — my final goodbye and my first true hello to Seattle, my new home, on my own. 

Not quite a free bird…

As of a few days ago, I've lived in Seattle for two months; but between multiple trips back to California and the weekends here jam-packed with midterms, finals and furniture assembly, I don't feel as though I've experienced much yet. Both trips home were very weird for me. Even the first, only three weeks after moving, felt like an out-of-body experience. 

I stayed at home... and it was my room, but it wasn't. The hills in town looked the same, but different. My time spent in the office felt like no time had passed, and that it was a completely different universe. All this "change" in such a short time made me long for my little apartment in Seattle. Although I was just about to pack it back up and switch units, it felt more normal than the Bay Area.

At the time, I may have been a little too forward with expressing these thoughts (without explaining the why behind them.) I wasn't thinking how my I can't wait to go home / It feels weird here comments were affecting those around me. I suppose I wasn't truly aware until I came home and heard how my friends and family took it that I saw that my words were as hurtful to them as theirs were to me before I left. I wasn't saying it to hurt anyone, it was poor expression, much like they weren't trying to hurt me the month prior. 


And now?

Things* are much easier two months in. I still have days that are more challenging; but on the whole, I'm starting to feel myself and ready to start venturing out in the city. I'm working on being more cognizant of the feelings of folks back home and also being more aware of their side as well. At the end of the day, I know they're sad and miss me, just as I miss them. 

I've smoothed over the hurt feelings and cleared the air with everyone and feel as though a huge weight has been lifted. I always knew my family and friends supported me in this decision, but now I feel it too. Even though I'm over 700 miles away, I still feel very rooted to "home". In fact, I probably talk to some people more, and my FaceTime app is definitely getting a workout. I'm truly in love with my new home — and while I'm still getting settled and trying to make friends here, it's been one of the best decisions of my life. 

(* I hate the word things. It's on the list with 'stuff' — have I already mentioned this?)



This over-dramatic moving series is brought to you by my anxiety-riddled move to Seattle. I'll be writing about the initial planning, the move and settling-in over the course of the next few months. To keep up with the big move and what happens next, keep an eye out for the special image in the header with the gold bar — or by clicking the “moving series” tab up top. Can’t wait to see where this road leads!

David Self