20-Something Hodgepodge

Home Exists In You, As You

The title of this post is a play on a quote from Eat Pray Love. During the “Pray” portion of the author’s year-long, post-divorce, tour de self reflection/indulgence, she takes a few months to meditate in India and tap into her spiritual side – ultimately deciding one truth: God exists in you, as you.

This isn’t the blog or time or place for me to contemplate the validity of that statement. But 2010 has taught me something somewhat similar: home isn’t a matter of location. It’s not found in other people. Home, your comfort, your point of reference, your strength, your truth… home exists in you, as you.

Home is: Choosing your choices

When I first moved to Boston in June 2009, I was extremely homesick all of the time. I went home every six or eight weeks. I constantly longed for my car, the suburbs, Wegmans, Tim Hortons, and most obviously – my family.

Something clicked for me when I was home this Thanksgiving. A year and a half later after moving to Boston, I woke up one morning and wanted coffee. Walking to Dunkin Donuts, like I do most mornings in Brookline – not driving to Tim Hortons like I was about to do in Buffalo – made more sense to me. I don’t know what it was. It was just what I wanted to do more than driving to Tim Hortons. I missed the city. (I drove to Dunkin Donuts.)

Later that day, I walked into Wegmans (a┬ácolossal, multi-department┬ásupermarket foodie-dreamland emporium) and was overwhelmed by the aisles and aisles of choices – I longed for the brevity and hustle of the Coolidge Corner Trader Joes. There’s one choice for Ketchup, orange juice or string cheese. And you will walk a mile and a half home in the rain with your bags. But somehow the thought of that shopping trip made more sense to me. I wanted to walk a mile and a half home in the rain from Trader Joes with my overpriced hippie groceries more than I wanted to drive home from Wegmans.

It wasn’t about Wegmans or Tim Hortons or even City Life in and of itself: I realized that day that I wanted what I have in Boston. I wanted my choice, without the regret, “what if’s?”, or look backs on the life I could’ve made in Upstate NY. Up until recently, I lived here with a constant voice in the background telling me it was selfish to move so far away from my parents, selfish to want to be here for career opportunities. There was a lot guilt – like I valued the wrong things or something.

I know this is what I always wanted though. I look at pictures of myself and I see myself as happy here. I can tell. I needed to get out of my own way and embrace my own decision.

Me, happy in Boston – February 2009. Night before a bunch of job interviews.

Me, happy in Boston – July 2010

I moved here in June 2009. But I chose my choice this year.

Home is: Your comfort zone

Sometimes they emphasize the idea of stepping outside of your comfort zone to get things done and reach the next level. I’ll offer a counter argument: I think if you dig deeper within yourself and identify what really drives you, what you really like to do and what you’re really good at – you actually get further. You’re happier, more relaxed and more productive when you discover and embrace your comfort zone. When you do what you want, you are who you are meant to be, and you live your right life: no matter where you are.

This year I finally had/gave myself the chance to ask: What would I wake up and do today if I didn’t do what someone else expected or wanted? I’m so thankful for that.

I realized: My natural speed is 150 miles an hour. I feel fulfilled when I feel productive. I don’t like to worry if things will get done – I just like to do them. I’m just not a lazy morning kind of gal, or a lazy evening kind of gal, really. I need Janet Time. I feel smothered without it. It’s just me. No more apologizing for it.

What activities make you feel alive, make you feel most like yourself when you’re doing them? When I’m up at 5 or 6 am going for a run, writing a blog post, in a leadership role, or drinking wine and having a one-on-one conversation with a friend – I feel like Janet. What makes you feel like you? Do more of those things.

Home is: Understanding where you came from but going where you’re going

Remember where you came from. Figure out where you’re going. Now, separate the two.

My life isn’t in Buffalo anymore, but my family is. It’s the people, not the location, that makes it a part of my core.┬áMy bubbly personality is my dad. “Sassy Janet” – my assertive side which I’m so happy to say is coming out more and more – is pretty much just me channeling my mother.

Every day in Boston someone hears my accent and asks me if I’m from Michigan or Chicago. I’ll never be from New England.

But the 150 miles an hour? The startup chick? This girl:

Me on my first day at oneforty

All that stuff is completely me. Remember where you’re from: embrace it, love it, talk about it – it’s what makes you unique. But you don’t have to over-explain and over-justify where you’re going to people who want differently for themselves.

Home is: Being at peace with the pieces

My definition of home isn’t about having it all figured out. Trust me, Hello Kitty debit card in hand – I’m hardly a real adult yet.

What this all means to me is taking the pieces that you do have figured out and clawing on tight to them. Focus on your strengths. And think about how you figured those things out, and how you can apply that process to the parts of your life that you don’t have figured out yet. Because that’s the beauty of home: once you find it, it translates to whatever, wherever.