“Do we know anyone in California?” is a question I asked a lot last month, using the pronoun we so I’d feel less alone. 99% of the time, the answer was a brief “No,” followed by a pitying look and a “But it will all work out!”
I lived in New York my whole life, close to my family, close to every single person who’s always been there for me. Then I went and jumped off the Cliff of Comfortability, making the decision to move to California. I was excited. I was nervous. I was already… feeling very alone. (Hence the question I introduced earlier.)
Unexpectedly, my anxious query made the rounds and I ended up with an unexpected offer. My dad asked his dad; his dad asked his brother-in-law; and his brother-in-law (my great-uncle) suggested a place for me to live: He owns an RV company with a location based in California, and though he’s never even met me before, he said I could live in one of his RVs.
I’ve never lived in an RV before, but was ready to try something new. I was ready to challenge myself and that’s exactly what I did. After moving to Los Angeles, I lived in an RV for 12 days. While that may not be super impressive to anyone else, it is to me. Because living in an RV taught me many lessons I never expected.
Appreciate what you have while you have it.
Though being grateful is important to me, I quickly learned that I don’t always value all the seemingly simple things I’m lucky enough to have. Several days after living in an RV, I woke up one morning, went to wash my face, turned on the facet, and… nothing. Nothing was happening. I had run out of water.
Out of water. The pedal on the bathroom toilet was broken and I could no longer use the facilities. The grey water tank was full and I could not shower. The electricity went out. I had limited cooking utensils. These were all problems I faced, problems that never seemed like viable problems before. Of course, they were problems I solved in the end, but that didn’t change me realizing that every single thing in my life – no matter how small – deserves my unconditional respect.
The best-laid plans of mice, men, and women often go awry.
I’m a planner. I will lay awake at night and plan the hours away. Hey, I may be exhausted when I wake up, but at least I know exactly what I’ll be doing over the course of the next week! As you can imagine, I planned out my RV stay – well, I attempted to plan my RV stay is more like it.
Instantly, my plans were foiled. The moment I moved into the RV, I became aware of the fact that there was no WiFi. I would not be able to work remotely. Definitely didn’t plan on that and, as time went on, my carefully coiled plans continued to unravel.
I soon learned that the only thing you can plan on is your ability to fix problems. Rather than saying I’m going to do this, this and, this, you should start saying: No matter what problems arise, I’ll be able to fix it. And you can plan on that.
“Home” is a flexible term.
Home is one of those words that has a weight to it, as if it’s carrying an important message. For me, home was always a stationary place with four walls: a location that was all my own. Yet, after several days of living in the RV by myself, I began to change my mind.
The RV had become my home because I made it that way. After I moved to California, my Uncle Kevin (another uncle) sent me this message: “Home is where the heart is and our hearts are always with you.” Aside from making me sob, this statement rang true and it took my RV/my temporary home to prove it.
You are all you really need.
I always thought that I wouldn’t be good at being alone, that being by myself would plague my mental health. Mostly, I thought that being completely alone in a new state would make me feel unsafe. And it did, but not for long.
My RV was parked near a road, close by a train station. There were always people outside and, at first, it made me nervous. But then, I understood that I had myself and that I was enough. I could be my own protector, my own friend, my own advocate. In living in my RV by myself, I became everything I needed and more.
To be better, you have to make things better
We all want to be the best we can be, but we don’t always want to work for it. Since moving into an RV, I’ve faced problems I wanted to ignore, problems I thought I couldn’t handle because of my anxiety. Yet, many problems are only problems if you let them remain that way.
In other words: you are meant to solve problems because you will be a better person on the other side. Yes, issues will challenge you and dilemmas will threaten your comfort, but they will also make you stronger. Your problems will help you grow.
Overall, I truly enjoyed living in an RV and I’m grateful that my great-uncle provided me with this opportunity. His gift, in itself, is a beautiful lesson.