I have this problem — I love my home and the people that compose my life, but I often find myself wanting to leave. I almost did once, when the opportunity arose for me to pick up my life and move to New York. I could have fulfilled my educational and personal dreams by attending a prestigious university for graduate school and living in a new city alone, free to define the world on solely my own terms.
But I couldn’t do it.
Sitting in my bed six months later, I have come to realize that I made the right decision, because deciding when to leave is one of the most important decisions you will ever make.
Leaving the familiar behind has a particular attractiveness that can draw you in, fill your thoughts with possibilities and promises of what could be; after all, all you need to do is give up everything you know and do the daring leap. You construct fictional futures for yourself, and imagine how wonderful everything could be in your new life, free from the constraints of the past and the pressures of the present. This is your future. You fill your mind with images of foreign places and people that will heal your broken heart and solve your problems. You devise a new version of yourself that will thrive in this entrancing unknown, a better you. The world will be a place filled with beauty and magic — hope, even. And for someone as cynical as I am, hope can be a tempting offer to leave things behind.
But I didn’t, because the trouble with leaving too quickly is that you will leave things unresolved, and there is a difference between leaving and escaping. I wanted to escape, but I realized that moving my life across the country prematurely would not resolve my problems, or make my life the grand vision I had constructed; instead, it would destroy me.
I stayed because I knew that it was the right decision for my soul. If I had left, I would have been leaving my grandmother, who I had been caring for, and I knew myself well enough to know that if something were to happen to her and I was in New York, I would drop out of school and screw my life up to be with her. I will give up anything for those I truly love, even myself. I knew I would be homesick, and feel like I had played the easy hand and ran away, rather than staying and dealing with the matters at hand. I decided to stay not out of guilt or self-sacrifice, but out of love for my family and myself. I owed myself the chance to tie up all the loose ends plaguing me when I considered leaving. And even though a lot of people did not understand my decision, and judged me for my choice, I know it was the right decision for me.
When I leave, I want to have a clear mind and the knowledge that I am doing the right thing for myself, not just in the short-term, but also for the rest of my life.
The appeal of leaving is enticing, tempting beyond belief, but do not go and leave things unsettled at home. The world will still be there when you are truly ready. Everyone needs a home to return to, even after they have constructed a new home for themselves. Your true home is the center of life, the place that will continually draw you in during your times of need and ameliorate your troubles, soothe your wounds, and send you back into the world ready to fight again. There is something tragic about needing to leave it at all, but the time eventually comes for everyone.
The world demands that we be uncomfortable to grow, and that is both a beautiful and troubling fact. Fight the urge to run away, and make amends with your home, so that when you do leave, it will be an adventure rather than an escape, and your soul will be free to flourish without the weight of regret.