“Why on earth would you want to leave your city? It’s the place you’re from. It’s your home…”
She scrunches her nose up as she reads the post office advertising board, with absolutely no desire to hear my response and I have no more mental bandwidth to deal with her negative energy.
This is the general reaction I get from people when I come out of the wanderlust closet. Maybe it’s my problem? Maybe I should just understand that some people simply don’t get it and become immune to the sad eyes thrown in my direction, along with the condescending psycho-analogies that echo; “I do worry about you, Anthony.”
No need to worry about me; I may not know 100% what I want from life, but one thing I’m damn sure about is – I am pretty aware of what I don’t want! I can categorically state that I don’t want to die in this city. More to the point, I don’t want to live in this city and I need to leave this city.
It’s a case of necessity, not a choice. This place is suffocating me.
It always has.
I feel like a butterfly in a jar with a tight, rigidly closed lid and I terribly need to BREATHE. This love story has definitely finished its honeymoon period and to be perfectly honest – I don’t think we ever had one.
Sounds dramatic, right?
Maybe, but it’s 100% real and I know that the place where I was born is not my true “home.”
Why would anyone want to leave their city – the place in which all the people they love live? How do you know when it is time to throw caution to the wind and leave your city?
Below I’ve listed some alarm signals to let you know when it’s time for a serious change of postcode. Some of them are personal to me and some will be relevant to everyone who feels this unnerving sense of captivity:
1.) You’re bored and don’t feel challenged
Even though I do believe that bored people are usually just boring – this is a different type of boredom.
I’m talking to those amongst us who know deep down that their brain is not being stimulated in the way it needs in order for them to stay happy. Some people are ok with the simple life and that’s fair enough, we’re all different.
But if you’re like a human Border Collie and crave constant mental stimulation that your city can’t provide, it’s time to go looking for that adventure.
2.) You experience an identity crisis on a regular basis
Do I really think that? Am I just saying that because my friends are saying the same thing? Why don’t people get me? Do I even get me?! There’s nothing like a good change of scenery for a fresh perspective to work out who you really are. Trust me. I found out more about myself after a solitary road trip than I ever did in a whole lifetime.
3.) You speak to a stranger in a bar & find out that you have the same exes
Cringe. I got talking to a lad on Saturday night and it turned out we have not one, not two – but three of the same ex-girlfriends.
*Plays Redneck banjo.*
That’s what you get with a really small city, you can’t go and buy a pint of milk without everyone knowing about it. If your city is becoming alarmingly small, it may be time for a perfect change.
4.) You’re surrounded by negative energy
Maybe you have people in your life who are vampires of energy and they bring you down every time you speak to them. Maybe you want to move on from a tragedy, or personal trauma.
Or maybe your city just doesn’t have a lot of potential in comparison to others. The cold hard fact is that some cities are simply better than others (or at least better for you as an individual). If your city is the boulevard of broken dreams, or you are feeling alone in a crowd, now could be the time to start researching others.
5.) You can finish off every story you hear…
…Because you’ve heard it 90,000,861 bloody times over. You desperately need new information in your rapidly dying brain cells as you’ve literally heard it all before.
People are desperately bringing up fun old memories because they have no desire to make any new ones.
6.) Drink ain’t doing what it should
Alcohol; nature’s perfect vice for numbing your feelings? It can be, but it can also be an amplifier of emotions.
On Saturday night I witnessed a horrendous drunken catfight between four women on the dance floor.
I remember thinking to myself “It’d only happen in this city.” Of course, that’s not correct, women can have a royal rumble in any other place in the world, but the truth is I have begun to resent my city.
This experience gave me the opportunity to pick something else I didn’t like about my city. Can you relate? I think it’s a bit like a romantic relationship; When you start resenting your city like that, you really should end the connection before it gets any uglier.
7.) Despite your best efforts to stay positive, it just drags you down
People will tell you; “It’s not the place, it’s what you make it.” Deep down, every fibre of you knows it’s way more complex than that. Hey, I’m an optimist. I can’t pretend to love something that I don’t, can you? Should you do that to yourself?
8.) Jealousy/Envy Triggers
True jealousy is a pretty ugly emotion to have and I’d generally agree. However, if you’re green with envy every time you hear something along the lines of “When I studied Spanish in Colombia….” “I lived in Mexico for a year….”I’m moving to Japan,” then this a great inclination of what you want.
Don’t put it on a pedestal. If you want to live in Paris/Sydney/Vancouver (or where he hell ever) then make it happen!
The chances are the same people who have moved to a brilliant city had pretty much the same fears and doubts as you. I felt incredibly jealous when I read my first travel blog.
I’m acting on my jealousy, I’m using it. I want a piece of the pie – why should everyone else have all the fun?
Get your mindset right that you are worthy for better.
9.) You dream of a fresh start
Ok, I said it and it feels liberating. I want to have a fresh start, I want to press the reset button and start all over again. What else is better than starting out in a completely new place to reinvent your life?
10.) You hear this song and you relate to every bloody lyric
Update: I Left My City After Writing This (Forever)
Good news to anyone who read this, feeling every word resonating with them… I did it (and you can too).
Pretty much a year after writing this article, I took a risk on myself by flying on a one-way ticket to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, with only £1000 in my pocket, no income and zero plan.
Everything was new; the smells, the food, the diverse range of people I met, the weather, language…all of it brand-spankingly new.
I felt the most alive that I ever have in my life, I felt reborn.
After completely resetting who I thought I was, I started to learn more about myself and I had to unlearn a lot of negative thinking that I learned growing up in a city that never quite “got” me (and I never got it either).
These cities may have not been perfect (for me) but they (amongst a few others that I tried out) taught me a lot about who I am, what was important to me and what I want in life.
After years of searching, I have finally found my city. And do you want to know something quite beautiful? I had already lived in this city once over, soon after finally leaving my own, I think I knew deep down in my subconscious that it was the place for me.
The city had some sort of mystical energy from the first moment that I arrived. As much as it pulled me, I had a “grass is always greener” mentality and went on to compare it to a few others.
I understand that most people reading this are not in a position to bounce around like this. I personally gambled on myself and made sure that I would be in a position to live in a few cities during my lifetime by nailing down online income.
You don’t have to do that and you should walk your own path.
Moral of the story; I could have easily written this article all those years ago, got off on that sweet dopamine rush of social media engagement and fallen back into a fixed mindset mentality and just accept that I had to accept things as the way that they were.
Instead, I used it as a galvanising war cry and I took a risk on myself. If you feel like you are in the wrong city, you need to make it a priority to get the hell out of there, with no apologies.
It’s time to move to a new city and that time is now.