When I was younger, I hated the town I lived in. It was small, there was nothing to do, and I felt like I would never make anything of myself unless I left for a different place. I dreamt of the day I could leave and never turn back. I longed for the opportunity that would take me on a thrilling adventure like those I grew up watching in the movies. I wanted to make a difference in this world and my hometown was not the place I was going to do it.
I graduated from high school, decided I didn’t have enough money to leave, so I went to a community college (hating every moment). After my first year of community college, I finally had my opportunity to make my escape. I got a great job in Frankenmuth and worked for the summer. At first, it was amazing. It was new and thrilling, but after a while, I started to get bored and wanted something new again.
At the end of the summer, I moved back home, went back to community college, and got a new job. For a while, it was exciting again. But I soon fell back into that feeling of wanting something new and exciting. It was then that I had a life altering realization: if I don’t learn to be happy with where I am, I’m not ever going to be happy with where I am going.
Joy and contentment aren’t found in your environment. Your environment may change and for a while, it might seem better, but eventually, things will become hard, annoying, and trying.
For example, my brother-in-law and his wife moved to Nashville, Tennessee, a few years ago to pursue a career in music. When he got there, it wasn’t everything he anticipated it to be. He couldn’t get signed as fast as he thought, money was tight, and there was a lot of pressure to go out and spend money they didn’t have.
A few years passed and after becoming a lineman at a local Chipotle, quitting the band, and becoming very cynical, he and his wife moved back home. He started to notice you don’t need to live in a fancy place and have a fancy career to be content. Even though Battle Creek is nowhere as cool as Nashville, he began to notice the hidden gems and the important things. He also realized that it’s not bad to follow your dreams, it’s the motivation behind it. His motivation was that by having everything he wanted, he was going to be happy. He soon realized that being in a band that he loved and living in a cool place wasn’t what made him happy - it was his perspective that brought him that contentment.
You can’t run from something, you need to run to something. You need to look at your perspective. At first, new things are good and exciting. Eventually, though, we start to notice the things we don’t like – maybe it’s the class with the teacher that is out to get you; maybe it’s the roommate who is too uptight. No matter what your situation is, eventually there is going to be a negative that you discover. When these things come up, instead of running from the bad things, we need to go toward and focus on the good things. At the end of the day, you are still going to be you and you need to learn to live to be content with yourself despite your situations.
Moving and traveling around to find the place that is going to make you happy is an unrealistic dream. Learn to enjoy where you are now so that you can enjoy every place you go. Without that, we will never find true contentment, but always be in search of the next thing to bring us joy.