All Cross Country Move Showed Me Where I Belonged

June 25, 2023 0 Comments

There is something to be said about finding your “home”. It can be a place, it can be a person, it can be an experience. No matter what it is, the comfort and freedom it brings can ultimately allow you to be your true authentic self—and there is nothing more beautiful than that.

Given the topic of this month, I tend to her roots and look back on a time in my life when I was looking for my “home”, a meaningful place to find my sense of belonging. After traveling more than 2,000 miles, I finally managed to find her on a journey that was both difficult and unpleasant.

Doing what Society Told me to Do

In the days after graduation, it became a hot topic: “After college, you should live a little somewhere else.”My parents did it, my friends did it, and so did all the influencers on my feed.

I didn’t care that I loved my Midwestern upbringing, that I enjoyed the abundance of outdoor activities, the proximity to cities, and that I had enough parks and space to spend time with friends and family. There was this nameless pressure on my shoulders—both from myself and from society— to take a leap away from all this. It basically told me that if I never left my Midwestern roots, I would somehow have less “life experience” than everyone else. And finally, at a time when people hardly stay in one place for too long, I felt that I had to live up to this temporary lifestyle in order to be happy.

So when the opportunity arose to move to San Francisco, a decision driven by a friend who got a job offer there, it was the perfect opportunity to keep up. It didn’t matter that my heart wasn’t really in it (or the fact that I was moving to one of the most expensive cities in America without a job)—it was my chance to cross this experience off the list. After all, everyone moved to “Cool places”, why shouldn’t I do the same?

Not Wealthy, But Surviving

A few weeks fast forward and I traveled to San Francisco with everything I could pack in two checked suitcases. (Note: I had sold or donated an entire studio worth of things-which in itself was a feat). My goal was to travel easily, stay with an acquaintance until I could find a nice apartment from Craigslist, and slowly rebuild my life together with my boyfriend. In the meantime, I would live on savings until I got a job—all simple things, right? (Spoiler alert: I was wrong.)

I started by jumping headlong into the apartment and looking for jobs, building new relationships and working on achieving every similarity of permanence I could. In addition, I worked on developing my social life, trying local restaurants, visiting all the hotspots of the city and doing “like the locals”.”My friend supported me, but he had his own ‘safety blankets’ and I had to find something for myself.

For weeks I have been dealing with everything I could on both fronts. And what began as optimism quickly subsided two months after, when I found myself in the same situation as at the beginning (re: no job, no place to live or meaningful relationships). The more I tried, the more I felt disconnected from myself. These are all things that were essential for my happiness. I was becoming more closed and anxious with every passing minute, and I couldn’t help but feel this sense of anxiety that I was the only one responsible for being in this position.

While I would eventually find a job and a small rustic apartment, it took much longer than I thought. And when I was finally in this permanent position, I realized that these anxious feelings did not fade. In fact, they stayed with me for two years (the time I gave myself to adapt). The easiest way to describe it is that I just never found my rhythm. Here I was in this remarkable city, but I just could not find the happiness that I so much wished for.

It was only when I was standing on one of the highest points of San Francisco—Twin Peaks—overlooking what many considered the most beautiful view of the city, that I realized that I was not thriving, that I was surviving in my new life, and I was no longer okay with it.

Go ahead and make it count

It was a little over two years in my new city that I finally pulled the plug. The ironic part was, I moved to San Francisco to make my life more robust than it was, but here I was wading through an not-known city that didn’t make me a better person after all. With the help of this book, a few wise words from a mentor and a lot of consultations with my friend, I finally accepted that there was no place to live, just to tick off the list of “things you do in your 20s “.”And coming to this realization gave me peace.

It took several weeks, but finally my friend and I packed up our things and started to return to the Midwestern soil. For the first time in what seemed like an eternity, I was excited again. The moment I landed in my original state, I immediately felt a weight lift off my shoulders. The fear melted; I had the feeling that I was finally free, to be myself again.

With this new optimism, I was more motivated to do all things. I met new people, moved to a new area for myself, joined a fun volunteer group and explored the best of my city. I also enjoyed the process. I was starting to feel like I was regaining the things I had lost when I moved around the country-trust, authenticity, excitement—and I admit that it was fine. I enriched my life by returning to my roots.

In a world that judges you by the quality of your stream, it can be easy to confuse the “right thing for you” with the “right thing”.”I had to move around the country to find out where my home was from the very beginning.

Lessons and Learning

In a world that judges you by the quality of your stream, it can be easy to confuse the “right thing for you” with the “right thing”.”I had to move all over the country—and feel so lost in the process – to find out where my home was from the very beginning. Although the journey was not nice, it helped me to find my authentic self—the one I am happiest with.

A “home” can be different for everyone. For me, this is the place where I grew up. In this place, I am more inspired than ever to get involved in my neighborhood, to make friends with people with different views and to do activities that nourish my soul. And I’m glad that all these things were possible in my house.

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