What Could Have Been

You’ll never know what could have been if it never was.

It’s a deeper version of your parents’ nagging “how do you know you don’t like broccoli if you don’t try it?”

Lately I’ve been think about this in terms of happiness. I’d say I’m very happy with my job, but how will I know if there’s another job out there where I’d be even happier? I like living in Memphis, but what if I’d like living in Amsterdam better? Our brains can fantasize all they want, but ultimately the only way to know for sure is to say yes when the opportunity for change arises.

In so many instances, contentment is the culprit. We get comfortable with our lifestyle and settle, which in turn closes our doors (and minds) to new adventures.

Now I know there are people who never leave their hometown, and people who work at the same company for 40 years, and people who don’t enjoy new foods or new places. I understand that change isn’t for everyone. With that said, I fear crossing the line where that comfort zone and contentment becomes a monotonous and unfulfilled lifestyle.

If I’m given the opportunity to travel across the state, country, or globe, I’m going to take it. If those opportunities don’t fall in my lap, I will actively pursue them. I’m at a point in my life where I could potentially live anywhere or do anything. I don’t have a pet to interfere with travel, or a husband’s career to consider in a move, or a house payment anchoring me to a single location. Eventually, I hope to have all of these things in my life, but until then I’m making the most of my independent lifestyle. I found a couple great articles on this topic, and here’s a point from Sarah Sloat I really liked:

If you liked your hometown as a kid, there is no way to predict your happiness if you never move away. Seeing new things is amazing, but being able to see your mom anytime you want is amazing as well. Contentment largely rests on aligning one’s traits with one’s situation. If you’re a 22-year-old from Indiana who wants to get married soon and grew up on a farm, well, Chicago probably isn’t a good bet.

I believe it’s natural to fear what is new and different, and I think that’s why so many who never left their hometown often seem closed-minded. Here is an article about how many of Trump’s supporters never left their hometowns. This post isn’t purely politically driven, but it’s worth mentioning. Living in a variety of places provides an opportunity to connect with people of different cultures, and without that there is no educating, understanding, or respecting.

So be adventurous, inquisitive, and embrace change. Never stop travelling, learning, and trying new things. Meet new people and listen to their stories and experiences. Break out of contentment, because you’ll never know what could have been if it never was.

2 thoughts on “What Could Have Been

  1. Susan Brayer says:

    Your blog definitely made me think. As you know, I stayed kind of close to home and for a long time never ventured too far. I do believe there are some things I missed or missed out on, but wouldn’t change my choices or my life. I agree that living in a variety of places provides a different outlook, respect and understanding of people, but disagree that without it there is no educating, understanding or respecting.Living somewhere else broadened my understanding or respect, but I believe I had those even when I stayed in the same place.


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