Posted on June 7, 2012 by
Go West, young man. That quote resonates with some in a metaphorical sense – as in to get out there and broaden your horizons. Or push yourself out of your comfort zone. For others, it takes a more literal sense... as in actually moving out West. I guess being the literal person that I am (after all, I did force my mother into labor on Labor Day), the latter meaning might fit me best. But in fact, the reason I decided to make a huge life decision to move 1,600 miles to Colorado was a little of both.
The Washington, DC metro area is a great place to be if you’re a career-oriented person. During the recession, it had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Or still has, if you believe it isn't over. All of those Government jobs, of course. If you want to play the game and focus on work, it’s the place to be to make a living. Don’t get me wrong – there are some people who love it there. It’s probably the most diverse city in the USA, and there are plenty of things to do. But in general, most people seem pretty miserable there. It might have a lot to do with the horrendous, soul-sucking traffic that creates a never-ending rush hour around the city and suburbs. It’s a very transient city by nature, but even non-Government people seem to burn out at some point and look for another place to live (or wish they could). I’m sure a native of any place, no matter how awesome, will get to a point where they’re sick of where they live. I’m not bagging on DC in general, but personally I knew for my own sanity I had to get out of the area.
So, at 40 years old, my girlfriend and I quit our jobs, packed a moving truck, and headed West. OK it was a little more complicated than that, as we had a year-long plan to escape. Some people’s reaction to the news was pure happiness for us, some expressed a slight bit of jealousy, and some acted as if we were crazy. Our response to the last one is “if you stay somewhere that doesn’t make you happy, isn’t that crazy?” Of course, uprooting a family and giving up an established career/business is not something you should do on a whim or take lightly. We were lucky in that we didn’t have too many ties to hold us back. But the biggest obstacle to overcome is fear. Any change involves risk, but without change it’s unlikely that you’re suddenly going to be happy doing the same things in the same place.
So far, it has worked out beautifully for us. The weather, activities, and overall vibe of the place is exactly what we were hoping for. But even more important than those things, it’s completely different from where we were. We’ve both been asking ourselves “why did we wait so long??” Had we allowed our fear and apprehension to dissuade us from Going West, we’d probably be stuck in DC traffic right now, wondering if we’d be happier somewhere else.
This rambling tome is not a decree that everyone needs to move to be happy. Colorado, or anywhere geographically West, is not the answer for everyone. We don't want everyone moving here to make the traffic as bad as DC! You don’t have to take the literal path. But, find your “West,” and go! Take a well-deserved vacation, take on a new hobby, get out of your comfort zone, EXPLORE!