A Reflection on a Year Spent in a New Place

Matt and I recently re-signed our lease on our home in Chattanooga, TN. To mark the first year, we found my dream couch at a local thrift store and built a desk for me to work from in our back sun room overlooking the yard; each item taking time and patience to find or build-all the while making our house more of our home. At this moment I am surrounded by my plant babies, watching the rain fall through a large back window, sipping some tea, and since I am a sucker for anything reflection based, I wanted to take note of some of the most ground breaking and re-birthing moments of this year in a new place.

As a deep rooted optimist and lover of anything new and different, I was drawn to the change of pace from Atlanta to Chattanooga. The access to limitless outdoor activities and a city on the cusp of big things, was also a draw. I tend to make a decision with little to no thought surrounding “what ifs” and fear, which in my defense, has been a trusty force behind big decisions in my life, but also tends to lead me to massive change that I somehow don’t expect each time. Our first few months in this town were full of hilarious irony and constant reminders to trust the process. It was a balance of not running away from the things I was not fond of, and focus my attention, instead, on the things that were keeping me curious.

What no one ever tells you about a new place, is that it is HARD, no matter how optimistic, out-going, full of energy, and passionate you are. It is up to you, and you alone, to not put so much weight behind the first impressions, but to really see the human-ness of the experience and, in turn, allow it to shape you. So many things about me that I identified with before became null and void, or, maybe, just different, because as I grew into my routine, what I wanted for my life from this place has shifted my intentions and perspective. At first, I resisted these shifts and labeled this place as “not for me”, rather than seeing what it could offer. I grappled with the quiet, slow pace and the small town cliquish mentality, that ultimately allowed me to be more thoughtful about my friendships and invest in people and experiences that offered me presence, peace, and thoughtfulness. I resented feeling like I had to prove myself (even to myself) and rebuild a life that I already had elsewhere. Basically, I questioned everything and just prayed for a day where I felt content.

The most beautiful part of all that questioning, doubt, and resistance is that there is only so long you can keep up with that before you decide to just dive in and let go. Instead, I began focusing on the way the universe showed up for me-the yoga studio that fell into my lap with beautiful people who welcomed me with open arms, the new friends that called me to hang out and come sit on their couch and chat, the swimming holes all summer long that kept me feeling energetic and alive in the oppressive summer heat, the new endeavors that have allowed me my first taste of financial freedom, the home we have created, and, ultimately, the love and trust that comes with doing hard things with a partner by your side.

So, my dear Chattanooga, although you don’t feel quite like “home” yet when I drive into the city limits from a weekend spent away, you have molded and shaped me in the span of a year in a way that I haven’t felt in quite some time. In the moments of resistance, I will continue to invite a sense of softness and look around at the life I have created and how deeply I continue to know myself because of the ways I have shown up for these challenges. If you, my friend, are feeling new and vulnerable and are deeply missing your “old” life, I hope you find comfort, solace, and connection in your new endeavors, no matter how frustrating some of them may be. You are not alone and it is all part of the work.

Hannah Lancaster1 Comment