It was the first day of the rest of my life. Less than 24 hours after my college graduation, I was leaving Upstate New York and driving 1,500 miles to Miami, Florida. Everything felt all kinds of magical. As someone who grew up with lake-effect snow and sub-zero wind chills, calling a vacation destination my home was beyond belief. Yet, after a year of an eternal summer, I was packing up again for another new beginning.
I’ve been a Boston resident for nearly three years. As much as I loved the modern and vibrant culture of Miami, it wasn’t long before I had fallen for the old world charm of New England. The brownstones, the history and even the rickety trains had stolen my heart.
Still today, I can’t help but wonder what else is out there. I could move to the opposite coast or another country altogether. I could try all sorts of different surroundings.
For some of us, a sense of adventure takes priority over a sense of belonging. We crave the fresh starts that come with infinite possibility—and our 20s are perhaps the perfect time to experience different zip codes. After all, each of us has the autonomy to design the lives we dream of. With a bit of courage, we can make intentional choices that will shape us forever.
What happens when we’re caught between here and somewhere else—the present moment and the distant future? A universal truth is that wherever you go, there you are. It can be easy to confound our identity with our location, but we have to remember that crossing a state line won’t transform who we are. There is more to us than where we live.
Crossing a state line won’t transform who we are. There is more to us than where we live.
Sometimes, when we’re so preoccupied with planning our next steps, we miss the magic in the everyday moments. Whether it’s the corner bodega or your walking commute, there is happiness to be found right at home, but only if you’re willing to look. Here are some ways to rekindle the love for your city.
Shift your perspective.
Our mindsets can either cloud or add color to our daily lives. If your inner monologue is reminding you of all the reasons you want to leave, then you’ll only notice the negative. Every situation will have its pros and cons, but what you choose to focus on will determine your optimism or lack thereof.
Something I’ve realized is that our memories and expectations aren’t always grounded in reality. When I think about Miami today, I remember the joys of spending weekend afternoons on the beach. The reality was that the humidity was often unbearable, and I longed for fall.
Our memories and expectations aren’t always grounded in reality.
If you’re too fixated on what’s next, then you can’t appreciate the now. If you’re too preoccupied with your past, then you can’t enjoy the present.
Ditch your bubble.
Think about ways that you can change your daily routine. That might mean running in a new direction during your morning workout or joining that book club hosted by a friend of a friend.
Breaking out of your bubble is also a great way to support your local community. Instead of staying in and ordering takeout on Saturdays, you can explore a new neighborhood and its coffee shops and restaurants. You can trade in Netflix nights for an outing to an improv show or an art gallery.
Discover local photographers.
If anyone can turn a familiar location into something awe-inspiring, it’s an Instagram influencer. Follow local photographers and take a few minutes to scroll through their captures. Better yet, bring your camera along on your next excursion, and challenge yourself to see your city in a whole new light.
Plan a staycation.
There’s a vacation waiting to happen right in your own backyard–with or without an Aperol Spritz on a rooftop. Book a spa treatment, go camping or rent an Airbnb in a nearby town you rarely frequent. You don’t need palm trees for a memorable retreat, just some imagination.
Reach out and give back.
Many of us arrive in a new city for a variety of reasons: to start a new career, escape boredom, check off a bucket list item or to simply find ourselves. Why do we stay? More than anything, it’s because of the people, and the emotional ties we make with them.
Nurture your friendships. Get to know your coworkers outside of work. Strike up a conversation with your barista. Donate to a local charity, and spend time volunteering. Before you know it, the city you considered to be just a temporary thing will have found a permanent place in your heart.