You’ve made the choice to stay, now what?
No longer searching for your utopia, no longer trying to find a place that likely doesn’t exist, you’ve decided to stay in one place, at least for a bit. Get comfortable. Make wherever you are a place you’d like to inhabit. Make it your own, and add things to it that make sense for your current worldview. Have a few things that inspire you, or have nothing at all. Have bare walls. My walls are bare almost a year into my lease, resulting from a mixture of laziness and personal preference. I’ve come to appreciate the color of the walls, and I feel no need to hang anything I have. Maybe I’ll hang something up in the months to come, but today won’t be that day.
I’ve been here for the better part of a year, and there’s a sense of comfort, of liking where I am. It’s enough to make me sign on for another year, but I don’t know what happens after that. In a way, it’s not important. I’ll figure it out when I get there, whether or not it’s worth re-upping for a third year. I’m doing my best not to get ahead of myself. I know that right now, I like this apartment, that I’m happy in it, that it’s become a place that feels like home. I don’t dread coming back to it, so I guess it’s not a bad place to spend a little time.
I’ve always been the type of person to say things like, “I’ll only stay in this city for X amount of years.” It’s a way of giving myself the illusion of control, as if I’m actually steering this thing, when I know very well that I’m not. It’s a way of allowing myself some time to grow in a new place, without getting in too deep. New York was never going to be a long-term thing, but I realize now, as I write this very sentence, that that’s only because I told myself it wasn’t going to be a long-term thing. It seemed like my anxiety would never be able to handle a longer commitment, but maybe I should have gone into it with the mindset of, “I’ll live here until it stops making sense.”
It wasn’t part of my plan, but I did live there until it stopped making sense, even if my mind was saying something completely different. I made an effort, however half-hearted it was, to try and find a job after graduation. I hung around until December, giving myself some time to try and make it work, but it never did. At the beginning of January, I left because I was tapped out. There didn’t seem to be any other option.
I don’t know what I would have done if I had been offered a job, a job that I wanted. That choice was never presented to me, but I would have struggled with it. To me, getting a job, locking myself in for another one to two years, that was unthinkable. I didn’t want to completely bury myself in a city that I always saw as aspirational. I wanted to belong, but I never felt like I was enough for it. I didn’t measure up to everyone else I knew. When I packed up my car and left, I felt like the city was telling me that I’d had my fun, but now it was time to get serious about life, just not there.
We like to control our worlds, our situations. We say things like, “I’m going to stay for a few years,” or, “I can’t wait to get out,” or, “I’m leaving.” Rather than fully grasping our reality and current circumstances, and what kind of action they dictate, we decide for ourselves what our reality is going to be. We call the shots, and we call them whenever we feel like it, even if the decision doesn’t make sense. There’s something to be said for putting an idea out into the universe and hoping that it’ll come to fruition, but our actions and our words don’t always line up.
Sometimes we move somewhere with the intention of staying for a year or two, and this mindset can backfire. When you know something isn’t going to last, you don’t always invest yourself fully because you don’t want to make the dissolution any more difficult than it has to be. There’s no sense in building something up when you know you’re going to walk away from it. As a result, you don’t establish a core group of friends, and you don’t work at making your current location more warm and inviting.
It’s hard to be patient, but as someone once told me, you should never wish time away. There may be certain things you’re waiting on, things you want to hear about, or some situation you’re hoping that will resolve itself, but life really gets good when you start to appreciate whatever it is that’s around you. Living every day is difficult. We like to plan ahead, plan things that excite us and give us something to look forward to. When we do that, sometimes we sleepwalk through the weeks, and maybe we experience moments of brightness, but much of the time, we never shift out of neutral.
Staying can be just as difficult as the decision to go. Stay until it stops making sense. When you don’t impose a deadline, you give yourself the option, the chance to exist in a situation naturally. You go out and forge friendships, friendships that could be with you the rest of your life. You get involved in things, things you may be involved with for years to come. There’s so much to enjoy, even if it’s all constantly changing. Not a single year of my existence has been like any other, and yet, I’m appreciating all the new things that are coming my way. Give yourself the chance to stay, and see what happens. You may never want to leave. Thanks for reading.