After roughly 19 years of living in beautiful San Diego, I’m moving on. I’m packing up my car and heading north. The goal: Portland, Oregon, in pursuit of a new career and a new start on life. San Diego has treated me well, but it’s time for a change.

The last few years have been full of challenges. I’ve met, and lost, so many amazing and special people in my life, and each of them has in some way contributed to the person I am today. I’m beginning to understand that I’m going to continue to meet and lose many more of these amazing people, because that’s what life is. I’ve always been so stubborn about life acting the way it will because I needed control. I needed to know that these people in my life, the ones I’ve come to love so fiercely throughout the years, wouldn’t fade away because I was too afraid to face the pain of that happening again. But life doesn’t go by those rules. You can picture the future however you want to, in all its perfection, but rarely will it ever end up exactly as you’d envisioned.

I had a solid plan when I returned to college in 2012 after graduating for the first time four years before. Now things are still on that general course, but the planned route has already taken many twists and turns. I didn’t expect to struggle so much with school and my depression. I never thought I’d “resort” to taking medication to alleviate my anxiety. I couldn’t predict I’d fall out of love with one person and fall so quickly back in love with someone else. I’d forgotten how much heartbreak really does hurt, and how sometimes you can look back and realize you’d had the answers all along. I’ve learned to let go of those who are hurting me, and to appreciate those who truly matter. I’ve learned that forgiveness is a virtue, in both giving and receiving.

I never thought I’d actually leave San Diego. My adolescent self may have despised the uprooting move that landed me and my family here, but the older, wiser me has adopted this city as my own. I’m going to miss the days spent on the beach, soaking up the sun with friends. I’ll miss wandering Balboa Park, ignoring but secretly enjoying the shocked stares my friend Sam and I got while trekking to the archery range with our bows. The gorgeous sunsets that illuminated San Diego Bay and lit up the city weren’t cliche; to me, they were home. I love this city. I’ve had many hardships and plenty of highlights here, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. But sometimes you just need a change, and that’s okay too.

I have a feeling I’ll return to San Diego someday. But just like that warmth that floods your heart when you think you’re in love can sometimes be deceiving and flat-out wrong, I know nothing is set in stone. But that’s part of life’s adventure and mystery, two of the many reasons that make it all worthwhile in the end.

Portland may not hold what I’m looking for. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s the journey that counts and not the goal, that I have to be the change I want to see in myself. It’s time I stopped wondering “what if” and finally just did. My recent birthday only served as a reminder that I’m not getting any younger, that the world is out there and all I have to do is take the first step into the unknown. Admittedly, at this point it’s scary as hell because this time I’m more or less doing it blindly. But I have some sort of agnostic faith that my courage will lend me wings to fly, that my determination will guide me.