Because I stayed home.

Sometimes I look at the girls who left, and I wish I had left too. I look at the girls who joined the Navy, who moved to Nashville for work, who moved to Florida because they just needed out; I look at the girls who did something else, and I wish I had too.

I see the pictures posted on social media. There are pictures of oceans, new cities, new friends, new bars, new lives… And not a single mention of that hometown bar that I hate yet always find myself in. None of those girls hear the rumors of the hometown “perfect couple” that got divorced. They don’t go out on Friday night and run into everyone they went to high school with. They get the occasional photo comment on Facebook from an old friend’s mom, but they never stand the chance of actually running into that person any random day of their life. They can be whoever they want to be.

Then I remember all the things I got to do because I stayed home, and I remember that I should be a little more thankful for my roots. I remember that I know plenty of people who did leave, and almost all of them came back. I vacation for four days, and I’m ready to come home. Would I feel the same if my home was located elsewhere? It seems like most of them did.

Instead of going to work at my little cubicle, every Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm, and feeling jealous, I try to remind myself that there are so many perks to keeping myself planted near my family. I remind myself that I get to see my parents any time I want. In fact, I probably see them more than they’d prefer (*wink wink*). I get to grow up alongside my little sister. (Yes, I’m twenty-three and still don’t consider myself “grown up.”) I get to watch this city quadruple in size. I still have to worry about tornadoes, but I don’t have to worry about hurricanes. I don’t have to lug the ridiculous amount of books that I own across the country. (Don’t get me wrong – I’ve moved them “just down the street” plenty of times.) I get to meet so many new people and wonder how I didn’t meet them sooner. I still get to put all the pieces together, even if the picture in the puzzle only takes place in Des Moines, IA.

Sometimes, the only way to find yourself is to get [physically] lost. I think I was always too afraid of losing even more of myself to pack up and go anywhere. I did so many things out of loneliness and excitement. I went to college, I quit college, I moved back in with my parents, I moved back out of my parent’s, I moved in with a boy, I left that boy… I didn’t ever know where I belonged. I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that I don’t need to belong anywhere, as long as I want to be where I am in that moment.

The end of the rainbow isn’t always across the map; sometimes it’s in your backyard.


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