I live in rural Tennessee now. The scenery is beautiful, the people are almost too friendly, the pizza is terrible, and I'm pretty sure I made this exact same observation on Twitter shortly after moving here. Oops, yes.
Being on my own (and in a new state) has been wonderful and scary. I have been given one of those rare opportunities to reinvent myself, but because I started out liking who I am, I'm really just finding the courage to test my limits. Sometimes, I push myself to break bad habits (eating too much sugar, being five minutes late to everything) or to start new ones (exercising, journaling). I say yes to things I never would have tried before—hiking a half-marathon, playing piano with a renowned oboist, asking for help when I need it. I also hide in my house and eat Lucky Charms in bed when I lose the battle with anxiety and fear.
I have found a lot of inner strength this year, but I have also re-discovered the joy of community and the support that comes with that. When things are going well, I have people in my life to celebrate with me. When times are tough, I have people in my life to prop me up with love and encouragement, gifts, hugs, and so much homemade food. I would not have survived this year without my parents, brother, grandparents, extended family, boyfriend, friends, coworkers, and even my new church.
There are still many days and many nights when this adventure seems like too much for me, and I have too much pride to ask for help or to admit defeat. But I am learning. I practice self-compassion and vulnerability (and read about it often) because I like taking off the mask of perfection. I like that my life is a hot mess this year. I like that I have a small army of people who are always on my side. I like that there is room for failure and room to improve.