How do I know if it’s a compulsion or a lie? How do I know it’s an authentic urge that is part of who I am?

I don’t think I was always like this. I used to be timid, with no drive to leave Missoula, Montana. But since 2010, I haven’t stopped moving. I don’t know how. Portland, London, Salt Lake City, Portland, Los Angeles. I know I suffer from boredom. I yearn for change, for big adventure, for that euphoric feeling of knowing every experience from now on will be new.

But is it healthy?

It’s not hurting anyone. I don’t feel like this nomadic lifestyle is toxic. But if I were in a movie or a book, the narrator would ask: what is she running from?

I don’t live under any illusion that each move will make me happy forever. I know now that the euphoria will wear off, I’ll get bored, and I’ll want something different. So is it worth uprooting my life every 16 months just for a fleeting happiness before everything goes grey again? Or is there something wrong with me that needs fixing? Maybe my ability to be happy in one place is broken, in need of repair.

I don’t know.

I want something new each time. Portland was a step outside my comfort zone, following my friends, exploring past my limits to see what would happen. London was adventure, the call I’d heard since I could remember, the city I always yearned for. Utah was a need for comfort after the challenge of London, and an obligation to a boy. Portland the second time was for healing, rest, rejuvenation. And then Portland became too comfortable, too small, its edges closing in around me, so I left for the city — Los Angeles. LA was a great adventure like London, all challenge and struggle, a new enemy to conquer, a blossoming relationship.

But now, LA is hard and exhausting, and I’m tired, and I’m broke. The mundanity of my job drains me. I’m lonely. I miss close girl friends, women who get me and with whom I feel safe. I want to live alone. I miss the seasons. I want to feather my nest. I am 31 and I live with two roommates; I’m 31 and I eat toast for dinner. I’m not ready to accept that as my life.

It’s hard to get a job in LA. I don’t have enough qualifications. I have no connections. And I can always go back. But if there’s a job in Seattle, if I have loved ones in Seattle and nearby, if I can live alone… then Seattle is where I want to be, for now.

I don’t know if this is healthy. I don’t know if it’s normal. Everyone else I know seems to be fine in one city. They seem to thrive. They live their lives.

Why can’t I live my life? Why is it always like this?

I feel so lost and lonely.

2 thoughts on “compulsion

  1. I struggle to understand the needing for a sense of adventure, at least the way you frame it but somehow can’t help but feel a sense of sorrow with how you describe essentially being over LA.


  2. Hi Meg. I’m so sorry to hear you’re feeling this way. Feeling alone, under appreciated, and not advancing your career is all pretty depressing. And on top of that you’re an Oilers fan. I know I’ve felt some of the same things (and a few different ones as well) over the years. Bear in mind that I’m twice your age, so our situations are different.

    I came out of university determined to not follow my father’s footsteps and go into IT, I’d seen how the stress affected him. I never did choose a major when I failed to qualify for engineering school. I got married before my last year, and on graduation found there were no jobs for general scientists. We moved to my wife’s new job in a small town (cue tumbleweeds blowing down the main street, I’m serious), where I managed to get a job working in a hardware store. That was somewhat disheartening, so I went back to school to get a career. I graduated as a draftsman, got a job before I graduated, and moved back to Vancouver. I drafted for two weeks before being dragged into a project management job. I hate project management. Basically it’s what I’ve done for the rest of my career. I retired early this year after 35 years in the IT project management field.

    Meg, following you on Twitter I can see that you are young, smart, and have a wonderful sense of humour; you have so much going for you other than that unfortunate Oilers thing. Here are a few things I would humbly suggest:

    – Live in a city you love
    – Live near work so you don’t spend half your life commuting
    – Find work that makes you feel good – it could be the job itself, or what it’s contributing to. I worked the last 10 years trying to solve problems in the health system.
    – Do what you love – doesn’t have to be what pays the bills (that would be a bonus). If you love creative writing then get writing, publish a novel or write about the places you’ve been.
    – Find a partner who you can support and who will support you. I married my best friend, and we’re still together 39 years later

    None of these is easy or quick. Some of them I’ve never accomplished or I’m just starting now. Don’t let it get you down I’m on your side, just not the Oilers side.


    Liked by 1 person

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