It’s really important to find the right place for yourself in the world. Whether it’s the city. The country. The suburbs. Europe. The midwest. New York City. On a boat in the middle of the Atlantic. Wherever. The place where you feel the most like yourself.
Because you really know it when you aren’t there. And it doesn’t matter how many people love Europe. Or the midwest. Or New York City. Or that boat in the middle of the Atlantic. If it isn’t your place. It’s not your place.
It’s like dating.
Remember that guy or girl you once dated who was ridiculously perfect on paper. Attractive. Smart. Educated. Awesome family. Great hair. I mean, you couldn’t do better. Except you didn’t feel that thing. They just didn’t do it for you. And you couldn’t exactly figure out why. They just weren’t it. And you moved on.
Well, living somewhere is a lot like that. It either fits or it doesn’t.
For the past three years I’ve been living in a town that people love. And I mean LOVE. Beautiful neighborhoods, great schools, no traffic… a South Florida Pleasantville.
It’s perfect for a lot of people. Except I didn’t feel at home there.
As someone who lived many years in New York City, I need more noise, more grit, more life. I need more stores. And restaurant choices. And to be closer to the water. It was just too quiet. With my flock of children, I can handle suburban living. But this was too isolated for me.
I lived there three years. That’s like dating the wrong guy for three years.
This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced this kind of thing in my life. My first TV reporting job was in Great Falls, Montana. Everyone kept talking about going hiking and I was like – where is there a sushi place? Turned out, sushi was three hours away in Missoula. And I made that drive. Often. (Does driving burn as many calories as hiking?)
In that situation, I couldn’t move. I came for the TV job and I stayed for the length of my contract. And that’s often the case for people.
Maybe you want to move but you can’t sell your house. Or moving doesn’t make sense financially. Or your partner’s job requires you to be in a certain location. Maybe you don’t want the kids to change schools. Or a million other reasons.
But eventually you need to try to get where you feel more like yourself. Even if today you’re just taking a few baby steps in that direction.
Because the flip side can be a bit soul crushing.
Like I once lived in this depressing basement apartment. The place really bummed me out. I was starting to wonder if melancholy was my new personality when I realized, I just had to not live in a basement apartment. So I moved. And soon, I felt like myself again.
Not along ago, we left that perfect-on-paper town and moved to a small city by the ocean. We were lucky that our kids attend a charter school so we could move without them switching schools. And that we’re close enough to our former town that we can still keep our friends.
Suddenly, in this new place, I feel more like myself again.
Is this our forever place? I have no idea. But I know it’s a place that I fit in. A place that feels a lot more like home.