Monday, December 27, 2010

A Guide to a Happy/Albeit Chaotic Life

A defining moment in the life of (some) adults is the moment they pack up their belongings and move away from everyone and everything that they know and love.  For most rational adults – this occurs in college when you move away from home for the first time.  And then you move back to the closest “big city” to where you grew up to start your first job.  And then you meet your sweetie, move out to the suburbs and raise children who will eventually abandon you for a college that’s at least 2 hours away and the cycle continues.    The whole process normally looks like this – adolescence, abandonment and then back to the mothership in less than 10 years. 

I fall in the extreme outlier for humanity.  I started off going to college literally DOWN THE STREET from my dad.  Then I transferred to a large university that was the preferred 2 hours or more away from my parents.  And then – ON PURPOSE – I packed up everything I knew 7 more times as I lived around the country (and outside of it).  I haven’t lived in any city longer than 2 years.  And consequently I also haven’t lived in an apartment for longer than 2 years nor had the same group of friends near me for longer than two years.  I have reinvented everything over and over and over again.  The absence of routine, familiarity and stability has been my comfort.  I assume to most rational people this sounds like their version of hell – living a life where the only certainty in your life is yourself.

Out of the chaos and instability there are a few takeaways I am grateful to learn:

You don’t really know who you are until you find yourself alone, in a new city, in an empty apartment with no friends.  You will quickly find that who you “used” to be was a lot of behaviors you picked up from your upbringing and who you “grow into being” will include choices that you make outside of the expectations of your parents and high school friends.  You’ll radically change some things and diligently follow others but the only way to test who you are is to throw out the book and start from scratch. 

There is a balance and cycle to those who orbit in your life.  It is scary and daunting to consider leaving life long friends for career dreams but I promise you, you will make new friends.  And the “old” friends who drop out of your life weren’t meant to be in your journey for the long haul.  The ones that stay with you will surprise you and usually are not the ones that you would expect.  There are high school friends who you will talk to every other day and college roommates you talk to a few times a year and always pick up where you left off.  And there are those kindred spirits who fall off completely.  But in all my moves I’ve always seen a new friend enter where another took the off ramp. 

The places you dream of most may be the most disappointing.  The jobs and projects you fought hard for may be the most lackluster for your career.  The boys (or girls) that seemed perfect for you may turn out to be the least compatible.   Predicting your life is a rocky science – expect the trial and error to repeat.

At some point you will find a place in the world where you want to pause, soak it all in and sigh.  This is probably the place you should be living in for longer than two years.  For me (to my utter disbelief), this is Los Angeles

And lastly, to quote my friend Jerry Garcia – what a long, strange trip it’s been.  



  1. very true! I'm nervous still about moving to a new city later this year even with my husband! you must be very brave!

  2. I'm still debating whether to make a big life change and apply for jobs in another country. This post is what I imagined my thought to be haha!I have never lived away from home so it would be huge! I'm pleased you've found 'your place' :-)

  3. I think my goal is to be that brave and jump as far out of my comfort zone as you have of yours.