I know many people who have parents still occupying their childhood homes, or perhaps have chosen to stay in their hometown themselves. This blows my mind. Elementary school, high school, college, and your own adulthood in the same place?! I have trouble recalling my last five addresses. I love visiting these friends because it feels so foreign to be able to walk through their childhood bedroom, or meet friends they have lived near since they were in diapers. The sense of community is tangible.
I believe 30 relocations in my 25 years qualifies me as a slight nomad. Even before I was born, my family was in the habit of relocating every two years or so. Apparently the tradition has stuck with me, and then some. As much as I love witnessing the strong bonds between a person and one particular place that develop over a lifetime, I wouldn’t trade my nomadic lifestyle. Here are five things that I’ve learned after moving 30 times:
- Possessions Can Weigh You Down
I will never forget moving out of my dorm and spontaneously relocating to the beaches of North Carolina for a summer. I fit every single thing I owned into my old Buick Century and drove 12 hours alone, for no other reason than salty air is exactly what my soul needed. Granted, I was a college student with no furniture at the time, but this trip taught me something important: our accumulation of so much stuff can suffocate us.
Clutter drains our energy, turning items we thought would bring us happiness into burdens. The noise of clutter is actually a huge stress trigger for most people, whether or not you realize it. Now that I’m a (psuedo)adult with actual furniture, I have embraced the popular KonMari Method of organization. There’s an excellent book that provides details, but the main principle is simple: only hold on to things that bring you joy.
- Community and Independence Coexist
I used to think that being independent meant never leaning on anyone else. It was as if ever time I let someone in or asked for help, I lost a little freedom. Instead of my numerous moves making me even more fiercely independent, it has taught me to appreciate my communities while not being afraid to leave them.
You can have an impact even if you are only in a place for a short time, and the place can certainly have an impact on you as well. Knowing that I may not be somewhere forever forces me to jump in wholeheartedly right from the start. As a result, I have little pockets of friends and places I love all over the world. Belonging to a strong community and being independent are not mutually exclusive.
- Embrace Uncertainty
I went to college with the intention of becoming a doctor, and left with a biology degree and no desire to ever work in medicine. I was so sure of my life choices, until I wasn’t. Life is funny like that.
Instead of trying to control every aspect of a situation, I’ve learned to embrace uncertainty. You can be confident in yourself and still admit you have no idea what’s going to happen. Welcoming the uncertainty that is a natural part of life makes for a much smoother ride over the ups and downs we all experience. It is authentic and courageous to state that nothing in your life is concrete.
As for the future, your task is not to foresee it but to enable it. – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- Opposing World Views
Life is more fun when people disagree. Spending time with only people who come from the same socioeconomic class, grew up in the same region, or went to the same college will never challenge you like exploring different world views. Seek the discomfort of meeting someone who vehemently opposes things you believe in. Then, do the most shocking thing – listen to them instead of trying to convert them. Ask them why they believe what they believe. You might never change each other’s minds, but embracing different world views allows you to hear a different side of the story.
- The Definition of Home
I used to think that home was where you had your people. I have since found that home is where the love is. All kinds of love count – love for a cause, love for adventure, love for your career, and yes, love for another human. White picket fences feel like prison for some, and heaven for others. Don’t be afraid to write your own definition of home.
Cheers to adventure,