I decided when I was in elementary school that I wanted to travel the world. I lived in books and had a deep envy for the protagonists that went on great adventures and experienced lives beyond their imaginations. I was in love with the beauty of the world outside of my own, so much so that I began to feel out of place. Every moment that I wasn’t somewhere new felt strange, almost like an itch that I could not scratch. I couldn’t imagine myself staying in Michigan and every time I visited California and left I cried.
I do not hate Michigan, I never truly did – it was just that in those moments I’d felt as though I’d outgrown it. In fact, for the final years of living there, I sought the things that I’d never had the pleasure of doing. I fell in love with local restaurants, saw the lakes, laid on the beaches, drank the apple cider fresh from the cider mill, and went skiing for my very first time. I relished in the beauty of the place that I call home.
If the places we call home are so beautiful, and so very reflective of the people we become, why do we leave?
1. Feeling Like You’re At Your Peak
Every day is an opportunity to learn something and do something new and there are a lot of things that one can learn from their surroundings: from the people we meet and the experiences we seek and create. Once all of that opportunity has been exhausted and you felt that your surroundings no longer suited your ideal environment for growth – you more than likely moved on. You moved on to some other place, but kept with you the lessons of your past.
2. Wanting To Challenge Ourselves
I personally have never lived a life where I take a ton of risks. It’s easy to get stuck in comfort while hopelessly dreaming of all the things that are possible if for just five minutes we were without fear (I could name ten things I’d do right here and now). Living in constant uncertainty is draining and at one point or another we take a plunge. We buy that one way ticket, or pack up our cars and just go.
While I like to believe that my own experience was a little bit more pre-planned and expected than others’, a lot of it felt spontaneous. I one day sat on the phone with my best friend and said: “Oh? You want to go … let’s go then.” I’m typically lax about things such as chugging an alcoholic beverage or meeting up with people I met online and will be called “adventurous” or “daring.” Picking up and moving your entire life is just not of the same caliber, it goes beyond standard comfort and into a universe of uncertainties. It’s probably one of the biggest challenges a person can pursue.
3. Seeking Opportunity
I am from Flint, Michigan – a place that is deeply forgotten for its role in the automotive industry and most recently notable for the water crisis (Flint still doesn’t have clean water). I’ve personally watched the city transform into from thriving peak into something blatantly under appreciated. I watched the schools we once attended close one by one and the neighborhoods slowly turn into something no longer cared for. It’s an overwhelming feeling to want to help build a community back up while feeling trapped at the same time. I want to do for that community because it is the community that made me, but I also never felt that I could accomplish the things I’ve dreamed of while remaining there.
While I am a firm believer in being a person that can create opportunities, this is not something that fits everyone’s personality. It’s unrealistic to expect all people to settle and adapt to their situations. And sometimes fighting for a better life, for more opportunity, is best in an environment that will push you to your limits and show you a world full of people motivated to just make it.
4. For Love
Love here could mean love beyond the love we can sometimes have for another person. Love for another person was not my purpose in moving here, but I am fully aware of the inner workings of long distance relationships and the importance of closing the distance and developing upon the relationship without technology. In order for it to work, sometimes we have to pick up our lives in these places that we call home and move clear across the country (and sometimes across the world) for the sake of that love.
Sometimes the recipient of that love is yourself. It’s possible to love and understand yourself so much that you want to do something towards the betterment of self. Perhaps we’ve come from toxic environments and have long sought to free ourselves from the debilitating feeling that comes from such circumstances.
I am often asked if I would ever move back to which I respond:
Should life pull me back, I would not ignore that call. If all of my options are exhausted and I feel like growth, challenge, opportunity, and love are to be obtained back home I will go. For now, I’m fighting to keep myself sane here.