I spent the first part of my life trying like mad to get out of the town I grew up in.
To me, it was boring, stifling, and felt like a dead end town void of opportunity and possibilities.
Any time someone asked me what I wanted to do or be, my answer was, “Anywhere but here.”
Every decision I made, every step I took, was to help move me away, off to some distant, unknown to me land where I would be free of the shackles of a small town, where everyone was in your business, and things never seemed to change.
I didn’t know how to describe where I wanted to live. In a lot of ways, it was a feeling more than a place. A sense of belonging, community, and a haven of sorts. All I knew was, it would be better than where I had been for the first 25 years of my life.
I’ve done that with a few jobs, too, always looking for something better. It’s largely why I job hopped most of my earlier life, bouncing from job to job, only staying a year or two before I hopped to the next one, in hopes of something more appealing. If you could see my resume you’d see my work history ranges from working as a criminal investigator to selling makeup, directing weddings, working in radio, and even a couple of salons.
Always in search of something that made me happy, fulfilled, and felt like home.
It also contributed to a greater sense of dissatisfaction. Nothing seemed to fill that void I was trying to close.
A few years ago, I commented on social media that wished I could move “home” — to the town I grew up in, a place I had romanticized in recent years, to be the only place I had known joy. Within an hour, one of my friends messaged me. “Girl, what are you even thinking? You know all we all talked about when we were kids was getting out of there.”
True. And once I did, I was glad to be free and in a new location.
It was short-lived though.
After the novelty of being in a new place wore off, I felt restless and ill at ease, like I was supposed to be somewhere else.
I thought, at the time, it meant moving back home.
I tried. I did.
Instead, I moved to the mountains. Part of me felt like I had known what it was like to live in my old hometown and I was hungry for new adventures. I had always wanted to live in the mountains and this seemed serendipitous.
Again, I found myself quickly experiencing that wanderlust of the soul, feeling like I needed to be somewhere else. But where?
“You didn’t like it up there at first,” Mama reminded me the other day.
No, I didn’t. I was frustrated with traffic from the tourists along with some of the small town constraints I had been critical of in my former hometown.
It was a sense of unhappiness and not knowing how to make it right, or even what it was that I was searching for.
Don’t we all tend to do that to some degree though? To always feel like there’s something better, more appealing — just somewhere on the periphery of where we are? We feel that sense of discomfort, where we’re not where we need or want to be, and grapple with trying to make a change that will give us the peace we need.
It doesn’t always happen.
I’ve wrestled with those feelings quite often over the years and found myself not sure what needs to change or what steps I need to take.
Difference is, something shifted recently, maybe an epiphany of sorts.
I’ve realized, I’m always looking for the next best thing, when maybe where I am already is pretty good. Instead of keeping one foot out the door, maybe I should put both feet in and try to make the most of where I’m at — kind of watering the garden beneath my feet so to speak.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting something better. It’s part of what motivates us to create change in our lives. But we can always be so focused on getting that thrill and rush of something new, that we never take the time to appreciate what we’ve already got, that’s pretty darn good.
I came to realize that I had spent a lot of my life chasing after some elusive thing that was impossible to capture, or if I did get it, it was hard to hold.
The overall feeling was that of contentment, fulfillment, peace, and perhaps a little bit of joy in this crazy life.
Maybe it’s not a place we’re looking for after all; maybe it’s something inside of us that we’re trying to find.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.