Despite my essay on home a few months ago, I have been struggling with an insatiable wanderlust. According to Pinterest, it seems like traveling is the only way to “find yourself” and it should be done at all costs. However, I think it can be unhealthy too. I have antsy feet. I have “I saw this cute house in this random town and we should sell our house and move”-itis, and I will obsess for hours late into the night researching real estate markets several states over.
I could tell you about the 28 states we have been to since we’ve been married or the international plane tickets we are buying this summer, but instead I want to talk about how I think I have developed “anywhere but here” syndrome because of my unhealthy obsession with all of the above.
Do you have “anywhere but here” syndrome too? Of course, I made this up, but as soon as I began joking about it with my husband I began noticing it in other people too. For me, I would say “anywhere but here” syndrome is a close cousin of “comparison-itis” because it is searching for something else in hopes of replacing what you find you have lacking. It extends further than just traveling though; these thoughts can crawl into any life situation you have.
Are Dorothy of Kansas and Walter Mitty your spirit animals?
When I watch these movies, I find myself nodding profusely in agreement with what I see on the screen. The whole “completely losing myself in day dreams” and then bawling my eyes out when Dorothy and Walter realize there is beauty in where they are currently in life. For me, I think “anywhere but here” syndrome is all about losing sight of the current and being disconnected from perspective.
Do you think there is actually a perfect place that you will find or live?
I have made this place in my head where we will have neighbors that we all love (we’re pretty close), an adorable house (check on that one too), family nearby (this can never actually happen with parents alone in three states), and mosquitoes will be completely eradicated. I should also note that in this location I will be able to easily drive to the country, mountains and lake within 15 minutes like I did in Utah, but I would be able to wear a cardigan year round while doing it. Well, the truth bomb is this place is not real.
Every place has clear advantages and disadvantages, but it is really a matter of needs for the person and a lot to do with trying hard and having perspective. Do I think that some places naturally have a better fit for people? Sure, but it doesn’t give us a free pass to focus only on the negatives of where we currently are.
Do you associate your happiness with change?
Are you always hunting for the next job, the next home, the next trip? I think traveling is a wonderful way to find yourself, but it can be easy to completely lose yourself in comparison or day dreaming as well. I’ve seen so many beautiful things and met so many people it can be hard for me to want to root anywhere. Even more so, I often forget that my home is now with my husband wherever that may be.
While I will probably always identify as a small town girl and appreciate big fields over cityscapes, I do really enjoy the architecture that can come from historical buildings. Even though Atlanta driving seriously makes me want to gouge my eyes out sometimes, I really appreciate how motivated the people are around me because it makes me want to push myself more. Even though our home will probably never allow zoning for chickens, I can appreciate that when our neighbor’s dog constantly barked she was awesome when I approached her and she fixed the problem.
I think that compelling drive to keep seeing, learning, and improving can be a super powerful force in life. My drive to keep looking for more in life inspired me to go to grad school and find something I am very happy doing and that feeling is what gave me the guts to get married to Devin even though marriage is a big risk! However, “anywhere but here” syndrome makes us look at the current situation we are in without realism or optimism about the potential of our now.
In essence, “anywhere but here” syndrome robs us of our ability to see blessings and good things happening and the thing is: we have many. One of my goals to help myself press forward this year and in life is to begin appreciating now more and more.