Where do you live? Do you like where you live?
When it comes to picking a place to settle down, it’s always a hard choice because I have always been able to fit in. In the fifth grade I flew across the country to live in Maine for two and half months no problem. I’m sure my parents were a little shocked to see that as someone so young, I was curious about the world that homesickness was never a thing for me. The Maine wilderness was exhilarating and despite my non athletic personality, I loved waking up to no electricity and heading out to learn how to windsurf or go on a canoe trip.
Right out of high school, I moved to rural Indiana to go to college. Again, as my parents saw me off and hugged me goodbye, no sobs. I was tearful but I wasn't a wreck. And before you think I have no heart, I seriously cry at birthday cards and television shows, I am not an emotionless person. I'd like to think I'm like my mom, she's fiercely independent. I loved living in a building that was more than a hundred and sixty years old and being surrounded by a forest and learning about the Midwest way of living. Chicago was a little less than an hour away and I went every chance I got. There’s something so charming about the windy city, the people and atmosphere is so inviting and welcoming.
And then there was Manhattan. I lived on the East River and walked around the city as if it were just me and New York. I was having a love affair with my then city. The ambition was empowering and I'm lucky my dream came to light in the big apple. I spent most of time between museums, libraries, cafes and park benches just studying the history and the people. It was a very romantic way of living but the $8 box of cereal and surviving on grapes and peanut butter sandwiches was enough to teach me there is more to life than living in a closet and working fifteen hours a day.
And then there’s going abroad. I’ve never lived anywhere outside the U.S. but I wouldn’t say no to an opportunity if it presented itself to me. I’m lucky I have a job that wherever I go, it will be the same no matter what. It would even broaden my literature scope. There's for the whole language barrier, of course but that is no reason to hold you back. I'm lucky that my parents introduced the idea of traveling at a young age, instead of shell shock it was a priceless learning experiencing.
I’ve never been scared or nervous about calling a new place home because I love experiencing new cities and meeting new people. And even though making friends as adults is not as easy when you’re younger, being a librarian has its perks. It’s easy to form friendships talking about books or becoming friends with the regular patrons. I’ve always managed to find myself a little life wherever I’m situated. But as I’ve grown older and watched friends move away (for job reasons, partner and family decisions), I often fantasize about moving too. In the back of my mind I’ve always told myself, never stay somewhere because it’s the safe choice. You should be somewhere where you can be sublimely happy.
Wherever you choose to live will not only affect your day-to-day life, it can also change your personality. “Studies show that character traits, like anxiety and extroversion, vary from one state to another,” reports New York Magazine. “There’s not only a New York state of mind; there’s also a Montana mentality and an Idaho id.” And this is daunting for those who don’t get to choose where they live. Our jobs and families play a huge role in where we decide to settle down. I’m not quite there but it’s important to think about. I didn’t end up in my current city by choice and even though I’ve formed a nice little life where I’m currently living, over time associations between career advancement limitations and this place are starting to impact me in negative ways. The fear of living in comfort over happiness is starting to settle in and it makes me nervous. Am I settling?! I’m getting that feeling, the antsy feeling of needing to be somewhere else. I’m not sure if that’s city, the mountains or abroad.
All these factors are meant to contribute to our individual happiness, of course. In my research I found that the general happiness of a city is not usually something people consider. If this sounds strange to you, it should be something to consider. Each year a Well-Being Index rates U.S. cities on the residents’ feelings of purpose and community, social and financial stability and physical health. Everywhere from Salinas and Yorba Linda, California to Naples, Florida and Denmark rank as the happiest places in the world, New York doesn’t even top the 100 happiest U.S. cities to live!