Alternate titles to this post include:

Say Hello to Lauren’s Anxiety!

Holding Readers Captive While I Panic About My Life Choices

Join Me on a Compelling Journey of Pre-Move Jitters

Mostly, I’m excited to quit my job, start school and move halfway across the country on my own… mostly. Still, this is a huge life change that’s happening in a month and a half. Though I’ve done huge moves before (NC to MA, MA to TX), I always had Tim with me to help. He was the fearless leader in all those life changes — the guy who drove the massive Uhaul 20 hours without complaining. The one who always reminded me that I was anxious and worried about things because I hate change, but everything was going to work out great in the end.

Right now, I’m trying to be my own moving cheerleader… but it’s not easy.

There are a list of things I’m really excited about, and I’ll share that later this week. Right now though, I feel the need to voice what I’m concerned about. My hope is that a year from now, I’ll reference this post and say Look how I overcame those fears and am being a badass writer now! instead of potentially curled up in a fetal position surrounded by a stack of critiques and regretting all of my life choices.

Today, a month and a half out from changing my life, these are my big fears. Some silly, some not.

I’m Leaving a Huge Support Network

California is not going to be totally friendless, thanks to a mix of my old friends that live within an hour of my new home, blogger friends I can’t wait to meet and what I’m sure will be a really neat mix of people I’ll be going to school with. Still, I can’t help but feel like I’m walking away from a good thing. I’ve never had a better social network than I do here in Texas, even in my home state of NC. Any weekend (or honestly even a work night) that passes, I can pick up my phone and find somebody who wants to hang out with me. If you don’t know any other life than that, consider yourself lucky. When I lived in MA, Tim and I were so lonely for friends. We had a hard time meeting others and connecting in that frozen land, and I would not have been able to bear the loneliness if it weren’t for him. If CA ends up being similar to MA in terms of friends and a social scene, I’m not sure what I’m going to do on my own.

I’m Going to Have to Use a Laundrymat

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’ve lived a pretty damn comfortable life thus far. Growing up upper middle class, and living close enough to home during college 1.0 to do laundry at my parents mean that I have never known the magic of schlepping your clothes around for cleaning. Is this an absolutely ridiculous thing to be worried about? Yes, yes it is. Tim always said I only showed my blueblood snobby side to him when I complained about taking the bus (terrible) and insisted we have a washer/dryer in every place we ever lived. Now with a bare bones budget in CA, I had to forego my W/D hookup dreams. I know a few of you are snickering right now, and I don’t blame you. When it comes to washing clothes, I’m a bit of a princess.

Those Texas sunsets though…

I Don’t Have Dog Care or a Vet There

Right now, I’m super spoiled when it comes to my canine furbabies. With (formerly) two roommates, I had plenty of people available to watch the dogs when I was out of town. Also, my small animal vet is just the best. He’s a rare mix of reasonably priced and thorough with my dogs. Now that Eliot is reading the later years of his life, I’m going to be needing a rational vet more than ever before. Also, I hope to take advantage of a lot of micro trips and traveling during my fairly flexible school schedule, but won’t have financial means to pay for a lot of expensive dog boarding or sitter visits.

I’m Uprooting Simon From his Happy Place

My horse is so happy where he lives right now, and always has been. Currently, he’s fat and sleek and enjoying 14+ hours of turnout a day. He has a best friend he lives with that results in only the occasional, minor bite mark and he has a half lease that tremendously helps me with bills. My trainer loves him and understands his silly little brain’s high maintenance needs. Though I will be taking my time to find the perfect, budget friendly place for him in CA, I wonder if I’m being selfish taking him with me. It’s going to be a huge financial hit that I can’t really afford without dipping into savings, and no matter how great of a place I find, I know that CA will be a huge adjustment for him. I hope the answer here is just taking my time and putting his needs first, because I’m not sure I can handle two years without being able to go sit on my nerd horse or lay my cheek on his shoulder after a tough day.

But who will cover me in ointments if you leave me in Texas?

I Feel Like I’m Being Irresponsible

This is something I struggle with, even if it doesn’t show at times. Do I regret making the decision to quit my lucrative career and go to school? On the eve of everything, I honestly don’t. I feel like if I didn’t take this chance, I’d always regret it. Still, there’s a voice in the back of my head that is loud and is yelling to me about how much money I’ll waste on this little adventure. Even though school is paid for (thank you Fellowship and UC school system), relocating to and existing in an expensive state is not cheap. I can’t shake the feeling that walking away from financial security to try my hands at writing, an extremely unstable and unprofitable field, is bat shit crazy. I repeat to myself on the daily that nothing is final, and after my degree I can always come back to the tech world if I please… but this is a huge risk. I hope it pays off in fulfillment, some level of success via publishing or some other too-early-to-be-defined kind of way. I really do.

I’m Stepping Into a Bigger Pond

Please forgive me if this last bit is overly arrogant, because I don’t mean it to be so… but I’ve always been pretty good at writing. Not always the best, but towards the top of the class. I’ve worked my ass off to win awards or get little recognition here or there, and I like that I’m considered pretty good. In my life, I don’t need to be amazing at riding or the most pretty or the funniest, but I need to be good at writing. It’s something that defines me, and I’m about to go to an amazing program where every person attending feels the exact same way. The talent in these MFA programs is thick. Everyone is used to being the best of their class, and everyone busted ass to get to the same place. I’m terrified of being swallowed up and finding out that I’m not as good as I thought I was.

It’s my happy place too.

So there it is — the honest, no thrills Oh shit post before my move. If you think I’m extremely negative, come back in a few days to read the other side of things. Life is always a balance of pros and cons, hits and misses. This plight to California will be no different.

34 COMMENTS

  1. Making a big move or a big change is always terrifying in a way. I personally loved living in California and found the people there to be very friendly and accepting, easy to hang with and I would go back in an instant if I could. Also, I can relate to the “bigger pond” feeling. I know for me, it was intimidating to be among more “peer” level people, but also really nice in a way. I learned a lot from the environment that I could not have learned in any other place. I hope that you will have a similar and truly wonderful experience!

  2. I agree with Erin, a bit change is always scary!

    Re: Your social network/making friends: I strongly recommend the Bumble app…in addition to dating, they have a really cool friend-making portion to help find same-sex friends within X miles of your current location. I’ve been in Raleigh almost 7 months now, and have met several women through the app that were great in their own rights…but more importantly, I’ve gained 1 new friend that I think is really going to end up being a long-term best friend.

  3. You can’t get big rewards without taking a big risk — putting yourself out there to follow your dreams is one of the bravest things someone can do, IMHO. Even though I’m really far away, never think you don’t have a big support network — call me, text me ANYTIME — I’m here for you <3

  4. Ooh those are all very valid concerns/fears/oh shit thoughts. I’ve had almost all of them in my moves, and can tell you that they’re not misplaced but they aren’t as huge of a deal as they seem.
    1. Rely on your support network you have right now. Set up phone calls to cry about how much you miss “home.” Send them thank you gifts in the mail. Stay involved in their lives on social media. You won’t lose them, and they’ll be integral to your transition being successful. At the same time try not to mourn, instead embrace that your relationship with them will change. That’s okay. That’s awesome. The ability to transition like that is the sign of a caring person, able to extend love to a ton of people in different ways. Embrace it.
    2. You’ll find a vet. Don’t feel stuck with the first one you find on yelp and try. I tend to go through 1-2 vets for my dogs until I find one I really like. It’s worth it to find, though. Don’t let yourself be guilted into staying with someone just cause you already tried them.
    3. Dog friendly vacations are great. Plus, your dogs are gonna be your best support system, so having them around is going to feel better. Eventually you’ll build up friends who can watch them, but until then. Single ladies with dogs are the best. Find a dog moms group in your new city and hang out. Take Pascale to a patio happy hour (and drink sparkling water with lime to stay on budget, tips ftw). Be a crazy dog lady and who cares.
    4. Horses deal with moves really well. Simon will be okay. The fact that you have a situation he and you are comfortable leaving him until you’re ready to move him out is AWESOME. I’ve found big moves help my horse bond to me even closer. He’s always reacted in a way that says “well, things are all different now, but you’re still here and still giving me food, so I’ll be okay.” Plus, California is a huge horse community. I bet you can find another excellent part leaser for the awesome pants pony if you wanted to.
    5. Just remember. You’re the best writer of your style out there. Because you’re the only one with your voice. Plus, you’re all there to learn. That means everyone in that program has something to learn, and some weakness they’re worried about. You may not be the “best” but you’re part of a group of the “best”. That’s maybe better.

    Girl. You’re gonna be fiiiiiiine. 😉
    #toomuchunsolicitedadviceover

    • I love this. I noticed Promise totally changed when we moved from MA to FL…she grew up a lot and definitely seemed closer to me. When she got off the trailer and saw me, it was almost like, OMG, you didn’t abandon me, mom, I’ll be good from now on!!

  5. Change is scary, the way I usually gauge things is with how smooth it goes. Does everything fall into place? Then it is the right thing to do. Just have confidence in yourself, a choice you make for yourself is seldom the wrong choice. Best of luck.

  6. No lie, having to go to a laundromat would freak me out too lol. I feel like at a certain age with a certain level of success I should have a hookup in my house, dangnabbit! Anyway. I’m a native Californian and I think you’ll love it here. The weather will make up for being friendless (just kidding, but only kind of, the weather here is awesome). I don’t think you’ll have an issue fitting in. We are very friendly people just be prepared for a different kind of friendly than the south or Midwest. Definitely friendlier than the east coast. And did I mention the weather? Bring your sunscreen because you’re going to be outside a lot!

  7. I cant speak to most of your worries about moving but i can speak to having horses in Southern California. Its different, very different. Granted I was in Los Angeles Proper and kept my horse in Pasadena and Glendale and since you will be in Riverside there may be a more options for you. However horse pastures don’t exist, there’s no “turnout” my horse lived in a stall 24/7. Pipe corrals are popular cuz they have a little more room. Turnout was chasing your horse around the ring for 30 minutes. Most places fed pellets instead of hay (my place was old school we had hay) and feeding was twice a day, no all day grazing. Hay is not abundant and its expensive. I had to learn all kinds of new things about horse management when i moved to MD because keeping horses in So Cal its so very, very different. I also remember that my board was as much as rent on my apartment. Things were expensive, that’s what ultimately lead to me getting out of horses. If you really want Simon to be with you, then i’m sure you can find a way to work it out but don’t feel guilty or bad if the best thing for him is to remain in familiar territory that you can afford.

  8. Those are all pretty valid reasons! But it’s not too scary here on the left coast. There are good vets, good pastures, and good laundromats. And you’ll be an even better writer. With old and new friends.

    To be silly, you could add more common fears: California is going to crumble into the ocean at the next Big One. The next drought will last forever. They’re all crazy liberals (thank you very much).

    But there are some good aspects: the Pacific Ocean, Sierra mountains, amazing access to fresh produce, Redwood trees, a state 750+ miles long with lots to explore.

    You’ve got this. And if you need a Nor Cal vacation, just come on over.

  9. I’m feeling a lot of the same concerns you’re having on my impending move to CA. It’s under different circumstances, my boyfriend lives there and he has a great house in a safe neighborhood, but it’s still scary. I’ve been living in CA with him for a few months before I go back and finish my own College 1.0, and have been looking at barns and options for other places to live. I’m very disappointed in the lack of pastures they have, but surprised with how reasonable the board can be. Being from Michigan, I’m used to a lot of gorgeous green grass for horses to munch all day, but, yunno, sacrafices. The bright side is that you can find some really cool barns with awesome people! I stayed with BF’s aunt in Santa Rosa Valley after his brain surgery to be close to the surgeon in June, and she lives in a stunning equestrian community near Camarillo. That place is pretty legit horse country. Take your time and explore and go confidently in the direction of your dreams and your heart!

    • Yup – that’s exactly my plan. Simon will stay behind for at least a month or two while I get settled and look for boarding barns. In the off chance that I become completely engulfed from grad school, I can always leave him in Austin with a full leaser. It’s not my favorite option, but it’s an option.

      Thanks for the link! I’ll check it out.

  10. OMG. I’m with you on the laundry thing. I would probably live in dirty clothes if I had to go to laundromat. I’m sure you’ll be fine though. You’re much tougher than I am. You could also look into a small washer/dryer combo unit like people in tiny houses buy. Turn out is not really a thing here in California, but I’m sure Simon will be happy to be with you.

  11. I applaud you for putting words to all of your anxiety and putting it out there. Also I totally agree with you on the washer thing, and worrying about uprooting your horse (I worried the same thing when I moved Prince to Florida with me).

    I made a pretty big move a few years back when I moved from Illinois to Florida. At first I thought it would just be for my one year internship but then I decided to stay in Florida and the best job offer that I got was in an area where I literally did not know a single person (real life and bloggers included). It was the sort of practice I was looking to join and a really good career opportunity so I decided to go for it and told myself I can always move back home if I hate it. School is a little different, but it helps to remind yourself that if you hate it and it doesn’t work out you can change that situation!

  12. It seems to me that you are ahead of the game by being aware of these things before you go. Based on what I’ve read over the years you will deal with all of them and come out stronger. But for now I’ll just send some positive vibes. I returned to graduate school at the age of 30 and it was very different and hard. Especially with two kids and my husband needing the one car for his drive. But looking back it was the best decision ever.

  13. It seems like a lot of people have covered many aspects of the move already, but since moving here to Houston almost a year and a half ago and leaving everything I have ever known behind, I can say this. If you embrace the change and look forward to it, then it is a good thing. If you start to look at it as a negative thing, it will take on the negative energy you put into it and grow into a bad experience. Sure there will be bad days, but don’t let them define your life. Like you didn’t know that already? lol

    Shameless plug here, but when looking for a hauler for Simon, contact Gary Mitchell. The ex(asshole) and I used to haul for a while and Gary certainly knows a LOT of good people out there who will take great care of Simon getting him door to door. And thru one of those trips we had delivered a horse to a place in Riverside and if I could remember where, I would pass it along.

    You and the furbabies will be fine. Thru blogging there are plenty of people out there who will help you make the transition. Being around good writers will Up your game. You’re going to do great. Please keep posting and let us make the journey with you?

  14. I have a horse friend that lives down that way. I’ve ask d her for some suggestions on boarding facilities/train re. Will pass along anything she comes up with.

  15. I think you said it best, “Do I regret making the decision to quit my lucrative career and go to school? On the eve of everything, I honestly don’t. I feel like if I didn’t take this chance, I’d always regret it.”

    You’ve identified for yourself that this is important for you to do no matter how some of the logic cards stack themselves in the opposing pile. If it was easy, everyone would do it. You’ll grow so much, learn more about yourself, and be an even better writer than you already are whether it’s from school or the life experience you gain from this endeavor. I’m so excited to follow along as you pursue your dream.

  16. These are ALL reasonable fears. But I agree with you, you’d regret it if you didn’t try. You can always go back if things don’t work out. So here are all me two cent thoughts for you:
    1. You’re going into a school setting where friends are just waiting to be met. It’s not like moving to a new job where the new people pool is pretty small.
    2. The one cool thing about the laundromat is you can do several loads of laundry at the same time! So it’s a lot faster.
    3. I’m confident you’ll find a great vet, they’re actually all over the place. And there are some apps for finding dog sitters that my friends have used with much luck. Kind of like Uber for dog sitting.
    4. Horses are pretty resilient. I’m sure you’ll find a fab place for Simon and he will make new friends too.
    5. I don’t think following your dreams is irresponsible. Now is the best time for you to do this. You’re not uprooting anyone else’s life but your own (as in you aren’t making a child change schools and leave friends, that sort of thing.) It’s a big leap, but now’s the perfect change to take it.
    6. OMG! THIS! I didn’t realize this when I first started college. I was one of the smart kids in high school without actually having to work all that hard. But at college, everyone was like me. It took me a little time to figure out what I needed to put in to be the smart kid again, but I figured it out. And you will too. The challenge is good for you, and will probably bring out even more in you as a writer.

    You should have fears. It would be weird if you were completely chill about taking a step likes this. But I think you’re going to be great. It’s going to be a big change, and big changes are hard, but look what you’ve overcome in the last two years! This will be nothing in comparison.

  17. Congratulations and well done, you! You are actually moving to my old homeland, most of my family aside from my parents are still in CA, we had family land in Santa Barbara since mom’s family was multi-generational citrus/avocado producers. Some scattered around SF Bay area too – while I can’t afford to live out there, there is much to love. I miss the human diversity! It will be a big change, even from Austin, but the great thing about schools is that they give everyone a common place and purpose as a really big group, making it so much easier to meet new people and find new adventures than when you are out adulting on your own. (I’m with you on the laundry though, and completely understand)

    One thing I’ve definitely learned with ageing is that everyone spends a lot more time afraid than they will ever admit, so every time we step out blindly (and terrifyingly), I find it a small comfort that in all likelihood, a bunch of people around you are scared too. It helps me be a little bit braver about saying hi to a stranger in a lonely place.

    Very happy for you and this exciting new chapter (pun partly intended). 🙂

  18. The hardest part about the move to SoCal for Simon will be turnout. I was always so depressed at the pen size and the turnout ‘pastures’ in California. Compared to TX, it will be a letdown. But there’s lots of great things about SoCal! 🙂

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