I moved away from home when I was 19 years old. And I didn’t just move out, I moved 400 miles away. It’s a funny story— I decided on a Monday that I wanted to leave, I quit my job that night, I refi-ed my car the next day, and on Wednesday at dinner, I let my family know that I was leaving the next morning. And I kept leaving.
I lived in Nashville for nine months before the job I had offered me a transfer to Central Texas. And I have been here for almost ten years. These last ten years have been some of the hardest ten years in my life. They have also been some of the most lonely years of my life. Moving to Texas was not a decision that came easily. I had friends that I had made in Nashville, I had a clear career trajectory, my ex and I had a future there.
For the first several years, it really was just the two of us. I ended up getting a second job because I was so bored. I struggled to meet and make friends. And all that I had was work. Which wasn’t so bad, because as it turns out, I’m a total workaholic. But work cannot be everything. There has to be more to life and to living than just what you do for a living.
In the last four years, I have really come into my own. I have stretched myself, and grown outside of my comfort zone. I have “put myself out there” as the saying goes. I decided that I was done sitting in my home, alone in every since of the word. I was ready to embrace adventure like I had when I was younger.
See, here’s the deal. When you’re just starting out, everything is Christmas morning, and there is nothing to stop you. But as you grow up, you become bogged down with this dumb thing called “the real world”. And that bold voice that once used to urge you to just go for it, drive cross country for a weekend, buy a one-way plane ticket, do whatever it takes to live— That voice becomes quieter and quieter. That voice gives up its precious room so that you can focus on mortgages, 9-5 job life, making anything for dinner so long as it’s not Hamburger Helper.
Who in their right mind wants to live that life? Who wakes up, and makes the conscious decision to live like that? Why do we feel like that is the only choice that we have?
And never mind how lonely of a life that that kind of life leads to.
So a few years ago, I decided that I was tired of living my life that way. Whatever your beliefs are as they pertain to the afterlife, this much is guaranteed true— That right now is all that we know for sure exists. And with that in mind, there is a responsibility to live this one precious life as best as we can. I forced myself to make friends. I forced myself to go places on my own. I forced myself out of the four walls I had barricaded myself in.
The hard part about all of that is that when you make the choice to work towards a more open and adventurous life, it tends to come with some insane anxiety.
When I was a kid, I was what some might call out-going. I had never met a stranger, and I wasn’t yet paralyzed by the idea of social situations. And somehow, at some point, that all changed. I woke up one morning and could no longer deal with new people and new situations. So when I decided that I was ready for a more socially fulfilling existence, I had to actively work towards being okay with being outside of my comfort zone. Something completely foreign to me.
Every single day, it takes effort. It takes deep breaths. It takes more energy than I have most days. But there’s a reward at the end of the struggle.
And that reward is so worth the pursuit, wouldn’t you say?