photo: iStock

A whirlwind year in New York City. A summer in Portland. Three years in Palm Springs. A new start in San Diego. At 28, I can say that I’ve probably moved way more than the average person has. I’ve parachuted into these bustling cities all on my own, with plenty of luggage but no friends or family at my side. I’ve adapted to the unique culture and lifestyle that city each has to offer.

All of my moves share a common thread: I’ve made them in order to fulfill educational or professional opportunities that I chased for years and couldn’t pass up. My first taste of freedom came in college, when I moved to Santa Clara, a quiet city in the Bay Area’s Silicon Valley. Though it was my first time living on my own, I was only a 45-minute drive away from my parents when I needed them. My second move was much more intense: I moved cross-country to get a master’s in journalism at Columbia University. The New York City skyscrapers, the fast-paced city life, the Dominican papis, and the 2 a.m. visits to falafel cart vendors were all a dream come true.

Related from Vivala: How I Moved From a Small Town to the Big City

The writer on her graduation day from Columbia University.

photo: Tatiana Sanchez

Columbia came and went and I found myself moving to Portland for three months to take a fellowship at the town’s primary newspaper. It was a great opportunity to get my feet wet in the industry. Fast-forward to 2012 and I took my first “real” job in the media industry as a beat reporter in Palm Springs. A.k.a. the desert. A.k.a. hot as hell. No, literally. Most of you know the region because of the infamous Coachella Music Festival held there each spring.  

My time in Palm Springs was nothing short of amazing. I met great people and truly thrived as a budding journalist. But I knew I wanted more. After putting in lots of hard work for nearly three years, San Diego came calling.

Throughout my early 20s I’d come across many fellow millennials, friends even, who told me they had so many big career goals and wish they could move to a faraway city or state to pursue them. My instant thought was always, WHY THE HECK NOT?!

Related from Vivala: Moving Away for College Doesn't Mean You Can't Be Close to Family

I’m not going to lie. Moving is a huge sacrifice that comes with lots of financial, psychological, and social challenges. Facetime calls and endless text messages replace the in-person quality time you would usually have with friends and family. Sometimes it means missing Thanksgiving or Christmas or skipping out on fun family events. It’s hard. Sometimes it downright sucks. Not to mention it’s inconvenient.

Whenever I say that, I get a flashback of my overwhelmed 23-year-old self surrounded by mounds of luggage at John F. Kennedy airport, ready to go back home to California but 50 pounds over the airline’s luggage weight limit. (I’ll spare you the details of the precious items I had to leave behind with the airline employee. It still hurts).

photo: Tatiana Sanchez

But for me these sacrifices have always been worthwhile. Each of the moves I’ve embarked on have challenged me to rise to a level of confidence, strength, and grace I didn’t know I had. These moves have forced me to grow in the most difficult situations and have inspired me to thrive in new environments. I’m thankful for all the lessons, the tears and the accomplishments that have come out of these moves.

I’ve always considered myself a fearless Latina. I’m willing to part ways with my hometown and with friends and family to pursue my dreams. I encourage you to do the same. So next time you’re offered that fantastic job across the country, or you’re accepted into your dream grad school in a faraway city, start packing your bags.