10 Reasons You Should Live Away from Everything Familiar in your 20s.

I’ve lived in four countries, so far. I obviously had no say in where I was born, and I moved to my second country with my mum. I moved to my third country on my own (which I used as a base to travel some of the world). I moved to my fourth with my now-husband. I’ve loved every single country I’ve lived in, but the one I moved to on my own, is the move I am most proud of.

A relatively nomadic lifestyle is common nowadays, and here are some reasons why living in an unfamiliar place should be a conscious choice in my opinion, for all young people:

  1. You challenge pre-established ideals. Whoever you were brought up to believe you ought to be, you re-evaluate in the absence of the usual social pressures. I found that I retained the things that kept me grounded, and let go of the things that added complexity and did not serve, or better me as a person.
  2. You make friends who you would’ve otherwise never crossed paths with. As obvious as this may seem, my group of friends now range from being three decades older to a few years younger. I made them through my unique experiences, rather than through work (as I knew it back home), education or family.
  3. You choose your own value set. You realise that many things you were conditioned to fret about, are just not worth the trouble. You become more relaxed overall, while fiercely passionate and protective about the things that are personally meaningful to you.
  4. You realise you need only mutual kindness and respect to co-exist with anyone: If you choose to, you get to live alongside people who eat food you’d never heard of, who grew up observing radically different cultural practices, who speak a different native language, and you realise you still have more in common than you don’t.
  5. Your comfort zone expands. You learn you aren’t reliant on the comforts you grew up with, and you become more relaxed with less. Though one thing I remain ‘stuck in my ways’ about is that I still appreciate a bit of toilet paper over a spray of any sort.
  6. Your definition of family expands, and begins to include everyone who made you feel at home while you were so far away from home, for no other reason than being drawn to you, for you.
  7. You become comfortable travelling alone. With a little planning ahead, and avoiding unnecessary risks, you learn that you will be ok alone in a foreign place. And you meet other travellers like you, or locals who welcome you, and it is no longer just you.
  8. You find like-minded mentors. You meet people who you intrinsically admire and keeping whose company helps you become more confident about your own chosen path.
  9. You get to chaperone your loved ones out of their comfort zones — especially rewarding when they discover things they enjoy, they otherwise may not have made time for.
  10. You may just meet your life partner. Setting out on your own may increase the odds of meeting people who wish to pursue life the same way you do. I met my now-husband in Norway, on a hike.

I’d be lying if I said it isn’t lonely sometimes, but even the loneliness is empowering, because it compels you to reach out to new and unlikely friends.

I feel that most of us are impressionable enough in our twenties to be influenced by the right people, while discerning enough to graciously pass up the things that do not align with who we want to be.

In the period that I lived away from everything familiar, I became unapologetic about pursuing the things I personally found rewarding. They were years that I look back on now and don’t regret a moment of, years that I truly lived unencumbered and adventurous — set for the rest of my life to regard travel to unfamiliar destinations an opportunity for personal growth.

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Originally published at smallwaystobemore.com on April 10, 2016.

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