A few weeks ago, I received a surprising email from a friend in the area. She had given notice at her job, given notice at her apartment building, and was picking up and moving alone from Washington, D.C. to California at the end of the month. No job in hand. No place to live. No true knowledge of the area.
And you probably just read that paragraph and thought the same things that I thought when I first read the email. Is she crazy? What will she do for money if she can't find another job for a while? Where will she live? Why would anyone give up their stable life for a cross-country move without reason?
There were the selfish thoughts: but I'll miss you. And the incredulous thoughts: do you really think this will make you happier? And the other incredulous thoughts: California is just so far away from everyone you know and love. If you want warm, why can't you try Florida?
And the jealous thoughts: how fantastic would it be to live on the beach? How fantastic would it be to be at the mouth of this brilliant new experience that could lead to...anything?
I don't want to move. I don't want to pick up and start over somewhere. That truly didn't run through my mind. I'm happy where I am--location and situation. But there's this excitement that comes from the first day of school or the first day in a new city or the first day of marriage that is so fleeting. Anything could happen. And you sometimes wish you could experience that level of excitement again. Because you forget that it comes as part of a total package that includes many other emotions--some good and some undesireable.
I know that she's scared and I know that she's wondering if this was the best idea in the world. But this is the way she explained it to me. She is not expecting this move to make her happy. She's not expecting that by moving she will meet her future husband or become a mother. She's not expecting that by moving all the pieces of her life will fit cleanly into place and she'll find a satisfying career and a wide circle of friends.
The reason she is moving is that she realized that she could be unhappy and confused in a city that she dislikes or she could be unhappy and confused in a city near a beach that she loves. And she's taking back control of her life. For years, she has been waiting for life to happen, and she's coming to the realization that some of the things she wants are out of her control (sound familiar, anyone?). And she's just taking back the things she can control. Like where she lives. And owning a dog. And spending her free time on the beach. In a town that is sunny 360 out of 365 days of the year. As she said, she could deal with five days of rain. What she couldn't deal with anymore was working in a job that she didn't like and living in a city that she didn't like when she doesn't have the things she wants. She knows she may not have the things she wants in California, but at least she won't have them in a place that she chose. That represents the control she took back in her life.
I'm so proud of her because making those choices are so scary. And they're huge. And they come with a boatload of doubt. Isn't it just easier to stay in a place that you know, even if you're not happy? But she hasn't chosen the easier path. And I'm sure there will still be people who scoff at her decision to move. But why is one reason better than another? Why is it better to move for a job or for another person? She's chosen to move for herself. Not for any fleeting unstable reason--you can be fired from a job and you can lose a person. But no one can take self-awareness away from you. And she had her moment of clarity--her moment of self-awareness--where she looked at her life and thought, I could be doing this elsewhere. And where do I want to be?
And those are the best decisions we make--the ones we do for ourselves and no one else. Without regard to the struggle that lies before us when making those decisions, but trusting that it will all work out in the end. I hope she gets her happy ending. I hope she finds so much peace in California that the other pieces of the puzzle fit into place. I hope the drive cross-country is easy and that she stops at every corncob statue and canyon in the West to gawk. I hope she doesn't forget how strong she was the day she made this decision.
I love you, sweetie. Have a wonderful journey.