When I graduated from college, I left my home state of Pennsylvania and vowed never to return. For the past 20 years, I’ve lived in DC (give or take a year and a half in Boston). But I started to experience DC burnout, and needed a change. I had no idea what that change was, but an opportunity presented itself to me to not only save money, but also to buy a house, travel more, and to be closer to family. So, I did the unthinkable, and moved home.
Over the past year, I’ve learned a few things about myself, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. So I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve learned, in hopes that it helps someone out there trying to make a big life decision…
1. Listen to Your Instincts, Not Other People
As I was going through the process of deciding to move, buying a house, and moving, I had many people question what I was doing and why. Yet I never did. Some wanted to tell me what I should think about DC, or how I would do in Harrisburg. Thing is, I already knew how I felt about both. I’m confident enough with my own life and I trust my instincts enough to know that this was the right decision for me at this time. What we as individuals want, and the reasons why, are very personal. Don’t let anyone make up your mind for you- you’ll regret it.
2. Live with Intention
I knew I would miss my friends. However, I moved only a few hours away, and knew I’d be back all the time. I’ve found over the past year that I still see the friends that matter; some I see even more than when I lived there. I can see that I’m living my life with more intention & purpose. I’m no longer just going through the motions, which can happen in a big city. I’m making time to do the things and see the people I love. And the time spent doing those things with those people means so much more to me! A day doesn’t go by that I’m not grateful for being so fortunate and having such wonderful people in my life.
3. Some Things Will Surprise You
I’ve grown over the past year. I’ve learned a great deal about myself, the world that I live in, and those I consider important. Living in the city I grew up in, but left 20 years ago, I often feel like I’m in a whole new town. Many things have changed, many for the better. It’s exciting to see the positive changes happening in the city, and I hope to contribute in some way to that change while I’m here. Some of my friends have really surprised me as well. Some people have reached out and stayed in touch more than I expected. And reconnecting with childhood friends feels like we saw each other just yesterday. It shows that even as time and distance come between us, our hearts often remain the same.
4. Other Things Will Disappoint You
Of course, there have been some times I’ve been disappointed in how things turned out. We all have ups and downs in life, busy times, obligations... But when it matters, you want to be able to count on those you love. People either make their relationships a priority, or they find other “things” to focus their attention on. But I think as we grow, we learn that “things” don’t matter as much as people. The sudden lack of distance has made it clear that not everyone lives their life, or learns from it. Change and growth aren’t easy, and sometimes you have to leave those behind who don’t want to make that leap with you.
5. Keep Your Goals in Sight
I know this move is only temporary. I made this decision with a long term goal in mind, as well as the short term benefits it would afford me. I have a timeline, and periodically review my goals to ensure I’m on the right track. I may even tweak my goals a bit as I learn new things. What I have learned in the past year, is that I know what I desire in my next city. I also know what I don’t want. Right now, I’m enjoying the benefits of exploring new places to find my next home, and learning more about ones that are familiar.