I am saying goodbye to comparison culture and moving back to the place I love, which also happens to be the same city I went to college. Read to learn more about my imperfect journey to happiness and my advice for anyone trying to figure out their next move (both figuratively and literally).
My experience in the last two years, following college, has not been unique. Why do I say that? I am not the only twenty-four-year-old in the world who didn't move from her college town/city and fall into her dream version of adulthood. 99.9% of us (us as in anyone in their "IDK what I am doing with my life" phase) are in the same boat, but experiences similar to mine (and maybe yours) can't be easily found on social media, online, or your favorite series to binge. So, like most conversations on DD, and the reason I write in the first place, I will talk about it. The topic? Moving in your twenties and finding your happy place. I have found that the journey of moving and getting comfortable in a new city or finding your happy place is often omitted in the conversation until after it happens. So here are my thoughts and experience while I am in the thick of it.
In my opinion, comparison culture in 2022 is the worst it's ever been. From the content I consume daily, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn, everyone else seems like they left school and figured their shit out, and that's not my reality. After figuring out what I want and what makes me happy, I am doing that and making a big move, but that doesn't necessarily pair well with an aesthetic carousel post on IG. It took me time to get to this space and follow the path best for me, so if social media was accurate, mine wouldn't exclusively include smiling photos but lots of tears, breakthrough conversation at 2 AM, laughs, and smiles in between.
Two years ago, when I was moving out of my college house, I thought the "thing" to do was to move to a big, new city, bust my ass for a couple of years, become a glorified intern, maintain a thriving social life, love life- oh and eat healthily and workout- all while living in an Instagram-able apartment that costs so little that I can still go on vacation twice a year.
Did I miss anything?
I did not move to a new city when I graduated college. I was very unemployed and very confused about all things life-related. So I moved back to my hometown, which is a city but not where I thought I'd be. During that time, I realized maybe what I thought my timeline was supposed to be wasn't going to be my timeline.
Because of, well, the obvious, state of well, everything, over the last two years, I think there's a trend of cutesy quotes telling us to F timelines and anti-girl boss era, but it's so much more layered than that. In my experience, I have spent years thinking what I needed to do was be a girl boss in NYC and have a fantastic career by my mid-twenties so that I could get married and have kids by thirty.
Those timelines and ideas built by society and our ideas of "making it" and perfection stop you from living your "best life."
I sacrificed almost two years, not including the extra years in high and even before that, creating unrealistic timelines and expectations for myself, focusing on what my life needed to look like, and that is no way to live. There is no blueprint for doing life in your twenties, but what I do know is trusting your gut will never steer you wrong.
I never thought I'd say this, but I am moving back to my happy place, which happens to be my college city down south.
I should have listened to my gut long before I did. Why didn't I? It sounds cliche, but I convinced myself I would fail if I couldn't make it to NYC. And yeah, maybe I can blame Carrie Bradshaw and social media for this pressure a little bit, but it was so much more profound.
I would have rathered stayed on my arbitrary timeline than chosen happiness. So, I kept pushing and interviewing, but I am glad none of those jobs worked out deep down. It took me longer than I'd like to admit, mainly because I knew I wanted to move back to the city I went to college. I went to school in a beautiful coastal town with so much to offer, but what took me so long was wondering if moving back meant I failed? But that's so far from the truth.
The truth is, I am the happiest I have been in two years as I plan to move back to my happy place. I chose my mental health and happiness over what I thought I had to do.
If you're reading this, I hope it inspires you to do what makes you happy because no one judges you like you judge yourself. And remember that for everyone, success and happiness looks different. It might be moving to NYC for your best friend, and for you, it may be moving back to good weather and the beach. Neither is right or wrong but go with your gut above comparison culture. I promise when you do that, everything will start falling into place.
Here's to my happy place for now, and NYC someday, if it's meant to be.