7 years ago I packed up a Uhaul with a trailer carrying my car on the back and left San Diego for North Carolina. I had been out of work for over 8 months, had just broken up with my controlling boyfriend, and felt mentally, emotionally and financially bankrupt. While I was grateful that my parents and sister lived nearby, I only knew one other person in NC and it was an awkward situation. I was terrified of picking up the pieces and starting over. But, I was also determined to. I didn’t want to let the last year and a half dictate the rest of my life. So I dove into my new one.
How to Make Starting Over Less Painful
My first move was to lean heavily on my support system. I was fortunate to have my family close by so I stayed at my parents for a couple weeks, talked to my mom a lot and thrived on our weekly family dinner. If you don’t have anyone physically close to you, you can still construct a pretty solid support system.
- Schedule a regular phone/video date with a friend or family member
- Start or participate in a group chat of people you feel comfortable with
- Reach out to someone who you know has gone through something similar
Lean on the people who care about you. There’s a difference between sharing your feelings with others and being a burden to them. Let down that pride and get the support you need.
If you’re starting over in a new location, job or just need to shed people who aren’t good for you– being social is important. After a couple weeks in my new city, I was ready to start meeting people. I reached out to the one person I knew despite the awkwardness and told him that I really needed him to be a friend and to get out of the house and meet people. He brought me to a gathering of his friends at a local bar and I chatted with as many people as I could. I was able to exchange numbers with a few people and make some hang out plans.
- Join Meetup or networking groups that fit your interests
- Actually attend events held by these groups
- Engage in conversation
At the time, I wasn’t into fitness but if I had to do it all over again I would have joined a gym with a strong community (most likely a CrossFit gym) and attempted to forge friendships there.
Sometimes when we are starting over we have the confidence kicked right out from under us. For almost 2 years I had allowed a man to tell me I was worthless, stupid and unattractive. What’s worse is I believed him. I had to start telling myself a new story. Confidence can be found in some pretty unexpected places. At first I listened to Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter” on repeat. I’d even get up and sing it in anger at my mirror. Sounds weird, but I feel like it gave me some strength.
While I generally don’t recommend seeking outside validation, in my circumstance, I had believed I was the most unattractive human on the planet. That no other man would put up with or want me. So in order to tell myself a new story, I had to get out of the house and flirt. Yes, having men hit on me was incredibly helpful to regaining my confidence. I was able to tell myself that I was indeed wantable and maybe even lovable.
If you have a negative story in your head, you need to find a way to tell yourself a positive one.
Happiness can come from spending time with people we love, but also from doing things we love. I find joy in the ocean, in sunshine, in lifting heavy things, in reading, in creating, in climbing trees, in shows that make me laugh, in dancing, in traveling, in good wine and amazing food. Find the things that bring you joy and do them.
Look at starting over as a clean slate rather than having to come back from a loss. You get to decide your own story, no one else.
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