It’s a question I’m often asked when I tell someone how long I’ve lived in the greater Boston area (6 ½ years if you include college.) I wonder why, when I give my answer --“yeah, I think so” -- do I often feel inferior? Or not so well-traveled? Or unworldly, or unaccomplished? Well, aren’t 20-somethings *supposed* to move about the country, free-spirited and drunk with adventure? Shouldn’t they be pursuing unattainable dreams before settling down with a family? Feeling melodramatically lost, alone and broke in order to build character, expand horizons and build a repertoire of good stories??
I've lived in Massachusetts my entire life, aside from a 3-month semester abroad in the Netherlands. Shortly after graduating, many of my close college friends moved to various cities across the country, far from their hometowns and far from me. I honestly hadn't even considered searching for job opportunities in other cities; perhaps more out of laziness than anything else. My friends bravely dispersed to LA, NYC, Atlanta, Dallas, DC while I moved a comfortable 2.5-miles north to Somerville. I’d admittedly feel pangs of jealousy upon hearing of another friend moving to a dazzling new city, job offer or grad school admission letter in hand.
I’m a lifelong Masshole who loves to travel but has a heck of a lot more to see and simply can’t be uprooted from her city. And here’s why I’m finally coming to terms with my decision (or lack thereof) to stay put.
Character-building is not done exclusively in new places
Moving somewhere new, particularly if you do so without a network of family or friends, will thicken your skin quickly. You’ll have to truly step out of your comfort zone to create that new social circle, and I imagine it will be taxing and awkward and exhausting. But damnit, life doesn’t have to be that hard to build on who you are as a person, does it?? I can take risks in my very own neighborhood that will make me feel challenged, and then grab a beer with my good friends right after. There are so many events, classes, places, people, things to experience in Boston that I can (and should) pursue on my own to expand my horizons and build character.
Happiness is found in the people you surround yourself with
I truly, wholeheartedly believe this. I am lucky to have my family, a group of close friends, and a growing professional network all within a 50-mile radius. It sucks that some of my best friends live across the country, and I can’t imagine what it’d be like if ALL these great people were in different states. Building social and professional circles takes time, and honestly I’d be afraid to start over.
Boston pretty much has it all
Okay, naysayers, the bars close kind of early compared to other cities and the T even earlier. But this city is fantastic and I come to love it more each day. The thriving tech scene, the young professionals, the hometown pride, the seasons (minus winter, which can go screw itself), the music scene, the pubs, the education, the history. It’s a great place to work and live, and why change a good thing?
Sure, I don’t plan on moving to a new city anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean I won’t travel to as many as I can to experience them, albeit briefly! In fact it’s a personal goal of mine to travel more often, both in the US and abroad, in the coming years while I'm still young and spritely. And when I'm done with my travels, I'll be thrilled to come home to the city I've known and loved forever now.
So yes, despite my intermittent jealousy and “what-ifs” and other Masshole insecurities, I'll be staying put - for now at least. If I were given an amazing opportunity in a faraway land (big famous record deal, where you at??), then of course I’d be willing to move. But dammit, Boston, you make it tough to leave.
Does this make me less well-traveled? Less worldly? Of lesser character?
Hell if I know. But, for now, I'm stayin' put.
My fellow Massholes 4 lyfe, chime in below! What keeps you in this lovely city?