Sometimes it’s okay to only move away from something

Rather than always have to be moving towards something else


Writer and cartoonist John P. Weiss recently wrote about his experience moving from California to Nevada, posing the question:

“Can moving to another place improve your life?”

He thinks so. But he also cautions us by citing writer Dave Reynolds:

“I think the key to discerning whether a move will be healthy for you is to ask yourself, “Am I moving toward something beneficial and positive or am I running from myself and my circumstances?” Are you blaming your environment when it might be instructive to look inside?

If you move for clearly-defined, positive reasons, then you will likely experience a huge amount of benefit from the move.

If, however, you are merely running from your circumstances or your own interior life, then all you will likely accomplish by moving is to bring your baggage to the new place where you will still not be content.”

And this is true for the most part — especially when it comes to taking ownership of internal problems. Those will always follow.

But sometimes it is external. Sometimes you can just be “getting away.” And sometimes that’s incredibly healthy.

Sometimes we move from cities that aren’t “ours”

I lived in Chicago for five years. I disliked Chicago for five years.

In fact, truthfully, I disliked Chicago for longer than that, because I didn’t like it from the first time I visited, when my then-boyfriend wanted to move back there and was trying to convince me by flying us out to “the best city in the US” a few times. And I still dislike it, eight months after I left. I’ll probably go the whole rest of my life disliking it.

Anyway, all five years I lived there, I was looking for my next move. And for the better part of that time, that move was “San Francisco.” (And then from there “the south,” where I am now.) And I like both of these places infinitely more. One big reason being that they’re “not Chicago” (though many other reasons in their own rite as well.)

Sometimes we’re leaving shitty partners

I once dated a codependent. The thing about codependents is that their toxic behavior doesn’t look toxic on the surface — in fact, it looks and feels a whole lot like what we’re told is “love.” It took me a while to see the behavior for what it is, but this guy was a real piece of work.

In addition to everything else he did, every time I talked about leaving Chicago, he’d give me some version of that same line from above — “you’re just running away” and “leaving won’t change anything!” He refused to agree that someone could just dislike a city.

This, from a guy who had literally never lived anywhere except Chicago and the suburbs of Chicago where he grew up. And never mind that I’ve lived in five major cities — and a few suburbs — across North America and Europe.

Eventually I realized he had no intention of moving and so was, in part, posturing against me leaving him.

And ultimately I also realized that “leaving him” only added to the appeal.

The last time we had this “discussion” was during the breakup, and yet again he puffed up to tell me “your problems will just follow you wherever you go!” And I said, “no —you’re not coming.”

You can’t run away from your internal problems — I have, for example, spent time unpacking what I could do better in relationships going forward to prevent this.

But sometimes fixing toxic shit, or shit that just don’t fit, is simply about getting the fuck out.

I am multitudes happier in a new city dating a new dude — and if anything, this only makes those years spent “not just running away” feel even shittier looking back.

Sometimes our work isn’t working out

I built and grew a company in 2016, averaging double digits of weekly growth in revenue during that time. In the beginning of 2017, I tied up loose ends, dropped it, and moved on. Because it was an experiment. And because I did what I wanted with it and didn’t want to continue with that project.

Because I believe there’s something better — even if I don’t know what “better” is yet.

And work, of course, is different, because we need income. But I’d rather take other work to pay the bills than be too terrified to drop something that’s not working.

“Running away” isn’t always a solution — but *fucking trying* is

Too many people never take any kind of action because we don’t feel resolute enough about it. We aren’t certain as to what we want, so we never try — we don’t experiment. We get stuck just hanging out.

Too many of us don’t do anything because we’re told we have to feel “hell yeah!” (or “fuck yes”) about it or it’s automatically a “no” — and that’s bullshit.

When I left everything — a partner, a city, and a company I’d built — in the span of about a month, one of my really good friends pointed out, “it’s like you just said ‘no’ to everything that wasn’t working.” And I agreed.

Because “no” — and definitely “fuck no!” — can be just as powerful of a reason as “hell yeah!”

And I understand that the advice “it has to be ‘hell yeah’ or it’s a no” is a caution against “settling,” because too many of us pick something half-heartedly and then get stuck there. But if we’re going to hold out for “hells yeah!”, we might as well try a little in the meantime. We’ll get closer to finding it if we do. We’ve got almost no chance waiting for it to come to us.

And yes, regarding the big shit — who to marry, especially — we should feel “hell yeah.” But when it comes to how to get there — whether or not to go on the date, whether to try a new bar, whether to move across the country —just try.

I mean, shit, man, none of us are ever really 100% sure. Some of the people we admire most have literally built their lives (and empires) around nothing more than a series of experiments!

Gary Vaynerchuk writes,

“I’m always quitting things. Every day. Trying, testing, iterating, and reacting. I’m not crippled by stopping-and-starting.”

And if quitting is good enough for Gary Vee, it’s probably good enough for us. As long as we follow up “stopping” with starting something else.

So really, the solution isn’t just to run away —to run and think that’s the whole solution — it’s to move and keep moving. Some things do just need to be dragged out back and shot — and but then we have to come back to the front porch and start again with something new.

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