What is it that really makes a place special? What is it that keeps you there and makes you want to settle down and lay down some roots?
I have dreamed of coming to Spain for so many years and here I am. Finally with the ability to travel to many different places. A freedom and opportunity for adventure that I wasn’t able to have in NY. And yet, here I am at a crossroads. My career needs a solid and strong foundation from which I can build further, but the thought of returning to NY is painful. I miss my family and friends to pieces, that is a given, and the thought of returning to them and settling in NY is tempting. I can’t help but wonder if I’m seeking happiness outside of myself, trying to find the “perfect” location to start my life. I question myself on a weekly basis, wondering if I will just continue on in search of “better circumstances” and a “better environment” until I wear myself out, perpetually unhappy with my surroundings. But the fact of the matter is New York simply is not the place for me.
Yay! Progress! I’ve come to some sort of conclusion.
Where do I go from here? How do I decide what is the place for me? And what is it that makes a place “a place for me”?
What I’m learning here is the importance of several things that for me make a place special that I would be willing to start laying down some roots in.
- Connections. What kind of connections? Connections to people that you can relate to on a fundamental level. People who you can turn to in order to freely express what’s on your mind and the struggles or joys that you are experiencing, who will support you through thick and thin, and who you can learn from and with. While this isn’t a connection you are going to have with a multitude of people (we call them our “best” friends for a reason, right?), I believe that three or four are necessary.
- Fulfilling Work. I have rapidly learned that if I am in a job that I leave at the end of the day without feeling fulfilled, without feeling like I have tangibly contributed to society, I am not happy. I have spent years seeking the perfect work environment and bouncing around from school to school, ignoring the issues that needed to be addressed in each school I struggled in. It’s no wonder that that has caught up to me and I’m in a school where all of those challenges have culminated into this one building, restricting me in its tight grip day after day. Until I learn to address and resolve these issues and bring forth the light this dark place needs, I know I will continue to end up in schools such as this. So, determined to not let that happen again, I wake up and fight this battle day by day. But to feel fulfilled at the end of my work day is an absolute must in my future home country.
- Music and Art. This, for me, is an obvious requirement. Live music is like an addiction and if I don’t get my fix for a certain amount of time, I’m going through withdrawal. Same thing with art. To be in a place where I can continue to learn is crucial, whether it’s in a museum or watching a meaningful play.
- Ample sidewalks with a healthy splash of nature and limited crowds. Seems a little demanding, I know. But it’s definitely possible. The teeny sidewalks of Linares and the swarming streets of Madrid or New York are not my cup of tea, and the lack of beautiful greenery in my immediate environment is slowly eating away at my soul. Something in between is what I’m seeking, and it’s out there, for sure.
- Energy. Could I be any vaguer? Yes. I’m not big into metaphysical stuff, but I truly believe that just as your energy meshes with each person you meet in different ways, your energy meshes with the country and city you’re in in different ways. There are no words. Just a different synchronization for each place you’re in and it’s finding a good one that is the trick. This is what ties together all of the above and turns a place from a cool place that you enjoy to the “place for me.”
I am not seeking an ideal place. I know that is not possible, nor would I want to be in an ideal place because that can easily become boring. But rather than being so hard on myself and worrying that I’m seeking outside of myself, I am coming to realize that having some basic standards for the country you are going to settle down in is important and necessary. Otherwise, you will end up floating around forever, which is fine if that’s what you want to do.
As I embark on this next stage of my life for which I’m excited to lay an immovable foundation for my career as an educator, the nerves and uncertainty of where I will be living has me feeling on edge. The whole world is open to me, and I can go where the wind takes me. I’m on my tip toes anxious to be carried off and so incredibly grateful for the opportunity, yet as the wind picks up speed so do the thoughts and worries in my mind.
Will I make the right choice?
Will things fall into place as they should?