Where is home? How do you know it when you find it? Can home be more than one place? And is home always a place?
|One of the places that I have found feels like "home" for me: Paris.|
These are big questions, and important ones. I myself have lived in a number of different places throughout my life thus far. Boston, New Hampshire, Prague, Germany, Italy. A few of these have felt like home. Others have not. I have also visited places in which I didn't actually live, but I experienced that "home" feeling there.
So, all of these questions related to home are tricky ones indeed. How do we determine what and where home really is then? Does home become the place you end up living? Or is it more than that? I would argue that its more then that. Some people live in a place for years and never fully feel at home there. Others live somewhere for just a few weeks and it remains stuck in their mind nostalgically as a "second home."
Here are a number of thoughts and factors one should consider when asking themselves the question of "where is my home?"
1. No place is perfect. Almost every city and country has wonderful, inviting, positive aspects to it. Almost every city and country also has drawbacks and negatives. Therefore, lists of pros and cons relative to where you might live can certainly be useful, but they will only take you so far. This leads me to my next point, which is that...
2. Home isn't just a particular place. Its a feeling you get somewhere (or even, with a very few certain people). Ever notice that some places, no matter how much time you might spend there, are unlikely to ever feel like home for you? You cannot quite put your finger on why, but just something about it will never quite fit in the way you might like it to. Something in you just knows. And yet, other places you may never have even lived in, but upon visiting you sensed that this place has "home potential."
A big aspect of "home" has to do with the particular vibe you get from a place. What is the culture like? What is the community like? Does it align with what you would like to live in? Is the city large or small? Are people easy to talk to? Do you like the weather? Is it close knit or more large and anonymous? Does this mesh with what you want? Have you discovered a number of places (restaurants, bar, gym, cafes, parks, meeting sports, brunch places, etc) that could/do feel like they could become "your" haunts?
All of these are important things to consider. If you find yourself not especially enthusiastic about a number of these aspects within the place you are living, you may have your answer ;-)
3. Home can be more then one place. I personally have had many "homes." Places that fit comfortably, cozily, and effortlessly into my heart, as home tends to do. And again, not all of these are places in which I have lived (though most of them are). The list includes: Boston, New Hampshire, Marquette (Michigan), Florence, Italy and Paris. I imagine there are other places that absolutely could be home for me as well, which I just haven't visited, seen or experienced so they are unknown to me. The point is, home is not just all or nothing. Its not only one place. Many places can be home. Again, it comes down to how you feel in that particular place.
Some of my own photos. A few of the places that have felt like "home" for me...
|Paris. LOVE this photo I snapped.|
|Boston (with my sister)|
|My family's little lake cottage in Marquette, Michigan. Right on Lake Superior <3|
4. Though it can be where your family is, it isn't necessarily. That depends on two factors. First, how close you are with your family, and second, points #1 and #2. Does where your family live have that feeling for you? If yes, you are in luck that these two things coincide. If not, despite your family residing there, you may still be left feeling slightly adrift or out of place there. Which leads into my next point...
5. There isn't much of a point in listening to the advice of onlookers (aka friends and family) who will give their own perspectives on where you should live (usually close to them :-)) because home is largely a feeling, not just a place. And feelings vary from person to person. While one person might live in a particular city and feel totally at home, absolutely loving it there, another person might visit or live in the exact same city and hate it. Just as with foods, hobbies and even with regards to people, we all like certain things and dislike certain things. For each of us, we may really dislike a person whereas of course, there will be others who will like that person. We may hate a certain food which, unquestionably, there will be others who like it. The list goes on. A place that might feel inviting, cozy, happening, totally like home to you, (whatever the adjective) might feel the total opposite to someone else. There is no right or wrong on this. Its all about perspective. But where hearing lots of other opinions gets us into trouble is then it makes it harder to hear our own voice and our own intuitions, through all the noise of everyone elses opinion.
6. Home is ultimately about where you want to "water the grass," or build it, so to speak. If you take points #1 and #2, using those to select a place, then you move forward with this point (#6) and build it.
7. Where can you picture yourself? True, we often end up where we least expect, and that is part of what makes life so fun, interesting and exciting. But if you do not see yourself staying in the place you already are, that's a big indicator that it might be time to turn the page.
8. You know home when you find it. Have the guts to listen to your own heart and your own intuition. Again, someone elses experience of the exact same place might be 180 degree different from yours. Trust yourself. You know deep in your heart when you find the people and places that truly fit to you. It doesn't involve forcing it, or trying to convince yourself. It will feel totally natural, fitting, easy and right when you have actually found "your" place and "your" people.
9. Rarely is anything totally irreversible. If you take a leap and realize it isn't the one that fits, it isn't what you wanted after all, guess what? You can go a different route and make another choice. How cool and freeing is that? Instead of imagining all the ways something can go wrong, how about thinking of all the ways it might be just as great and possibly even better then you could fathom? Think of where you are right now. Chances are, there have been moments along the way during your life when you worried about how things might turn out. And chances are, its turned out pretty awesome up until this point. Trust that this will continue, wherever you go, as long as you are listening to your intuition.
10. People are always terrified of change, of the unknown, of letting go, of taking risks. This is part of being human. We like routine, being comfortable, knowing whats coming. But being scared does not mean its something you shouldn't do. More often than not (look back on your life thus far and you will see what I mean), the big risks and huge changes end up being not just good but great. They can elicit vivid color, newness and forward momentum into your life. What makes for a truly epic, fulfilling and awesome life? Staying where its safe, predictable, easy and known (whether a job, career, relationship or other) but knowing that you would likely be happier with something else? Or, going for the thing that is thrilling, scary, unknown, different or new, but that your intuition and heart is telling you to try out? I think you know the answer.