This past weekend, I traveled to Indiana – my home state – for a visit with friends. We solidified these friendships while living in New York City, and most of us have since moved. Several moved to places closer to family, where they’ve built incredible careers, bought houses, raised puppies – now, some are raising children.
I moved to Colorado on somewhat of a whim. I made a list of characteristics I’d want in a new city and narrowed it down to Denver, which is the closest I get to a whim. There’s natural beauty and plenty of hiking trails, young people, and culture. The weather is incredible. It was and continues to be a good choice.
I can’t remember exactly when, but before I left my hometown, I had already begun to form my identity as “other.” (Discovering that I’m a 4 on the Enneagram could have been helpful back then.) While I treasured visits back home, my identity hung on the fact that I’d “made it out.” This has caused a few conflicting feelings: I feel guilty for belittling where I come from, which isn’t just a place – it’s a collection of people, some of whom love me, and all of whom shaped me. This belief has also kept me feeling isolated. My family is there, and they hold my heart.
I have used this stubborn belief that Indiana holds nothing for me to keep myself moving, exploring, seeking adventures. The truth of it is: I was afraid that going back home would mean I had stopped growing. That where I am now professionally, as a person – that would be all I’d ever achieve.
Walking alongside my friends, the same women who used to picnic in Prospect Park in Brooklyn and joke about Williamsburg hipsters, I realized we had all continued to grow – thank God! How miserable it would be to believe everything I thought was gospel at 22. It didn’t matter who had moved back home, stayed in New York, or ventured to a new city – we all still loved each other, and we were all still growing, striving, seeking adventures.
And you know what? Indianapolis has grown and changed, too. My friends there live in beautiful homes, and there are cute restaurants with delicious food, and strolling the botanic gardens at the Indianapolis Museum of Art was the most fun I’ve had in a while.
I’m not sure where I’ll end up, but for now, I still love Colorado, and I am grateful to realize that my value doesn’t come from my zip code. It travels with me wherever I go.