This quote is one of my favorites, it really holds true for my entire life. I grew up in a small town, my family rarely took vacations, we were sedentary. My family lived in the same place they grew up. My grandparents and all twenty-five cousins all lived relatively close to one another.
But I had two uncles that had left. One on my mom’s side, one from my dad’s side. While both sides of my family often criticize these two for “not coming around more,” I related to them.
One uncle left the cold Wisconsin winters, left the small town, left the everybody-up-in-your-business lifestyle. He headed to Texas. Honestly, I don’t know him very well. I could count the number of times I’ve seen him on one hand. But what was admirable about his move is that he left, despite the pressure from 10 siblings to stay, despite the pull from two parents who’ve never left their home town, he left. He left to find something better, a place that fit him. I knew the feeling.
My second uncle lives in Alaska. He loves the outdoors, exploring. We have the same heart. On that side of the family, my dad’s side, the family is much smaller. My grandma on that side was the first one in her family to be born in the United States. They’re from Italy. She’s lived all over the Midwest. St. Louis, Chicago, Madison. All the great cities. They were much more comfortable with seeing new places. So my uncle made the leap.
Once I became old enough to start thinking about moving out, I knew I wanted to make a leap, too. I looked everywhere for schools that would get me out of Wisconsin. A place I could find some freedom. Become my own person. Leave the small town behind.
I found my way to St. Louis.
And once I graduated school, my family was hoping I would stick around, maybe move closer. But instead I found my way to a new adventure. I moved to Los Angeles. I saw more of the country, learned what it was like to be in a new place.
I have plenty of friends back home stuck in the small town. Wishing that they could get out. To those of you stuck in the same rut, you can. You can get out. You don’t have to stay where you are. Bills will always be there. They’re not going to go away if you stay where you are. Moving across the country doesn’t have to be expensive. I packed up what I could fit in my car and moved 3,000 miles from home. I didn’t bring a single thing more than what I had in my car. I slept on a foam pad on the floor of my new apartment for weeks. I got a job at Target to help get me a discount on the things I would purchase for my new home (although, looking back, I wished I had gotten a job at Ikea instead…)
I save money by packing my own lunches, I never eat out. Ever. I work every hour I am allotted, and I don’t spend money when going out with friends. I have a freelance job that I work on my commutes to earn more. It’s hard to save money, but it isn’t impossible. I work hard to have the freedom to live where I want to live and travel when I want to explore.
There are so many places in the world that are affordable, both to visit and to live. Currently, I travel to places that I can drive to. That’s what is attainable to me now. When I was living in St. Louis, the cost of living was so low, I had the freedom to venture further, to see more. You can have that. You are not tied to one location nor one circumstance.
Living paycheck to paycheck with no money saved up? I’ve been there. I’m there now. But you’re not stuck where you are. And neither am I. You can be free. You can see more. You can get a paycheck-to-paycheck job somewhere else. There are thousands of them.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Don’t be afraid to leave where you are and find something different, or better. You can do it. You don’t have roots, you have feet. Use them.