As a youngin’, I had a particularly unusual habit of sitting on my friend’s front porch and waiting for him to come back home whenever he was away. Sometimes I would sit on his porch for almost two hours and watch the day pass by and the sun set like I was that dog Hachiko waiting for his dead owner to return to him. I was a child defined by my crippling fears of leaving my neighborhood, of going somewhere new, and of leaving someone and something behind. Basically I was the textbook definition of FOMO.
While I’ve grown up tremendously, I have to admit that this character trait has stuck with me in adulthood; I resist change and embrace comfort’s strangle. When I first moved away to college I became incredibly depressed and lonely because I felt like I was being forced to part from my familiar surroundings too soon; it was so bad that I transferred and came home to take community college classes only after one semester. As a sophomore, I almost talked myself out of a summer trip to London because I was worried that I would miss things back at home while I was away. Thank God I didn’t because the trip to London was one of the best experiences of my life.
I have a tendency to self sabotage, and an unfortunate talent for talking myself out of new and scary things. I am capable of creating the most compelling arguments as to why I should never get off my couch let alone travel outside of the city or state. Whenever I am confronted with the possibility of change, the voice in my head tell me that if I don’t pass up on it that I’ll lose whatever I leave behind. It tells me all of the reasons I’m happy, and all of the reasons why I’ll be miserable if I take the leap, and usually that nervous thinking convinces me to keep everything the same. I’ve never regretted any trip or travel experience I’ve had, and yet every time I go to embark on a new one, the voice comes back and I become powerless once again.
Now that I’m nearing college graduation, the voice has begun to make itself known once more. I am not only plagued with questions as to what I should do as a career, but where I should go. Almost every conversation I have nowadays is about these two topics, and about the countless directions I could go in. Some friends and I talk about the beauty of Boston, about how we could never leave it behind, and about how nice it’ll be to be surrounded by all of our friends who will be making the city their permanent home. My other friends rant and rave about all of the fantastic new places we could go post-graduation; they say now is the time to travel and to explore. They say we should be doing anything and everything to resist the incredibly tempting urge to put our dreams on the back burner and settle.
It is hard to differentiate between the voice in my head and my own. Sometimes I want to stay in Boston because it is my home and what I know, because it is only a forty minute train ride away from my family, and because I’m oh so close to understanding how the subway works. I don’t know if my love of Boston is tainted by the voice in my head, if I truly love it this much, or if I’m convincing myself of that only because I don’t want to leave. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to fulfill my career ambitions here. I think about the possible regret I may feel for never pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and what it would be like if everyone went off and pursued their dreams, and I stayed behind.
Sometimes I want to go to New York City because it is scary and exciting and full of career prospects; sometimes I don’t because it is loud, aggressively large, and horrifically overpriced. There are times when I want to go to Los Angeles and pursue a career in film, and there are times that I want to do some sort of rotational program and continuously move around. More often than not, I want to just crawl under a rock and live my life as a hermit; the voice in my head is pretty supportive of that scenario.
This past summer I went on a road trip, which is something I had never done prior. I visited New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland-places I had never been to. Every city we stopped in had its own unique culture and history, and it made me think about how much there is to explore in this country, let alone world. Whenever we walked around I would think about what it would be like if I moved there for good, if I just said “fuck it” and made myself a new home. I thought about how I would cope with the feelings of being foreign, but seeing a Starbucks in every city made me realize that there are ways of finding home wherever you go. Capitalism is everywhere, yo.
I don’t know what I’m going to do; I don’t know if the voice in my head will win out, or if I’ll get an incredible job offer in a city across the country and just pack my bags. What I do know is that I owe it to myself to make the effort to explore all of the possibilities. I want to make a decision that is good for me, not a decision that is easy and comforting. If I stay in Boston I want it to be because I found new and exciting opportunities here; I don’t want to stay here because I’m afraid of how my relationships with my family and friends will change, or because I’m afraid of starting over somewhere new. Most importantly, I don’t want to let the fear of things changing, even for the better, keep me from being truly happy. I don’t want to refrain from moving to Los Angeles because I’m afraid I’ll end up liking it or decide that it’s the best place for me to be, even if my family and friends are far away. If what I need or want is halfway across the country then I owe it to myself to at least go there and try to get it; I just hope that the people I may say goodbye to will be there to hug me if and when I return.