Moving out of your comfort zone is hard, but maybe it isn’t all that bad?
I didn’t always live in Boston. My early years of life, my childhood, were spent in a city nearby. This place was once my home, but thin memories and nostalgia don’t keep it perfect. This home was Quincy. I used to live by the ocean, on a private beach with the smell of low tide and sand always on standby. Apartments were common, but the further outward you went, the more they turned into humble houses. It definitely was suburban with primarily white, middle-class people. I never paid that much mind because I had those I cared for with me. I spent my days oblivious and free, never hoping I would leave.
That day came too fast.
In November of 2016, my mom told me and my brother that our landlord was selling her house. A scowl instantly formed on my face, my chest filled with rocks. “Moving,” a word that creates worry. I already moved once and lost what few friends I had. Starting over in a new area, new people, I couldn’t do it again. I begged my mom to try to find a place in Quincy so that I could stay close to what I had, and she tried.
Early morning, mid-May of 2017, I was in the kitchen making some ramen, carefully handling the piping hot bowl. My mom had come into the house out of breath, sweating from the summer heat. I quickly got her some water. After a few long sips and breaths, she caught her words. “I found a great-looking three-bedroom.” My heart pulsed out of my chest hearing this. Her excitement faded a bit as she told us the place was in Dorchester. My heart plummeted. I couldn’t believe what I just heard, but I had to.
An inevitable move. We spent the month of June packing. I shut down a bit, numb and nauseous. Shoving my keepsakes into boxes and bags. Over and over. Rip, pull, carefully place, tape. Our stuff is in the truck, and we’re on our way. An immediate homesick feeling hit me. Looking behind me as rocks filled my heart. Despair took over.
We arrived at our new home; it was a two-story apartment that was quite spacious. Most of that summer was spent indoors, not bothering to look outside. A pad of paper and a screen were my comforts. I never had many friends, and the ones I did I could never hang out with outside of school. So I spent most of my days alone. I never saw a problem with this, and thus I continued minding my way with the humming of summer. Yet that all changed when I did leave the house. Leaving the house, my curiosity peaked. I noticed each apartment building clustered together that seemed to stretch up for a mile. My soles trotting along the littered, cracked, and tarnished concrete, life desperately grasping for light from it. Minute-long sidewalks and corners at every end. Nostalgic smells filled my airways, but I couldn’t grasp their origins. Booming music, speeding cars, and people being chatterboxes brought some old memories to light. Good vibes were high in these streets. Compared to Quincy, it was similar, but it felt like it had a lot more to say.
A brick didn’t hit me until my first year at a Boston school. My old schools were fine, except for their diversity. In elementary school and some of middle school, I was one of two or three that had some melanin in their skin, who didn’t have blue eyes and light hair. That never made me feel isolated, but I felt strange being one of a few. My new school was completely different. When I stepped into the hall through the metal detectors, wonder crossed over me. Scrambling students in the hall, scents of perfume, and late summer mugginess, all feeling foreign and yet similar. I met many who were Latino, Asian, Black, Haitian, and mixed. Honestly, I was stunned. Never before had I been in a room with so many people who looked like me or who shared melanin. From teachers to students.
That year, I learned a lot about those I interacted with. Who they were, how they behaved, their hobbies, etc. As I interacted with them, I noticed my flaws and how I had a one-sided mindset. I saw friendship as a one-sided street. There is no need for much input to be considered a friend. I didn’t need to constantly keep up with them. I was very wrong. I saw failure in a much greater light. I discovered I was scared of failing and noticed how easily I gave up in the past. Seeing how hard my peers and teachers worked and what they achieved motivated me. They made me want to step up and keep doing better and better with my academics and schedule. At the end of that first year, I realized how relaxed and driven I was.
I don’t completely regret moving here. That feeling pops up, but no longer does it rummage through my insides. I’m happy that I moved here. It wasn’t instant, but from being surrounded by it I got comfort. I learned a lot about different people. I discovered my flaws and desires. Now I’m a person who is more self-aware of my actions and words, who is more confident. Some things I learned from this was going someplace new isn’t all bad. Meeting new people and being in those places helps with reflecting on oneself. To figure out who I am and how my actions affect those around me. In this world, we never get the full picture until we experience it head-on. Never knowing what things are truly like for ourselves and others until we see it with our eyes or are told. Being told something may give us that idea or thought to think back on our actions and how we see ourselves compared to others or our past.