Millennials are stereotyped as adventure-seeking nomads. Those who never stay in one place for long, never rule out their options, never commit to anything. We live at the convergence of FOMO and nostalgia. Old enough to remember a time before mobile technology, yet young enough to get lost in the endless options it provides us. We’re flooded with an entire aisle of cereals, for goodness sake. Who needs that many cereal options?
This is the era of instant gratification - Amazon Prime, hookup culture, Netflix autoplay. This is the era of options - Yelp, swiping, hell, the internet itself. We're swimming against the shifting tides of technology and endless options. It's an easy current to get caught in.
So when we have more access and connection to corners of the world than ever before, why wouldn’t we capitalize on it? Twentysomethings are traveling and shuffling the little that they actually own from city to city in search of something more. Trust me, I’ll be the first one to declare my love for this freedom, to preach the importance of independence.
Yet, you have to wonder – why are an overwhelming amount of millennials feeling so lonely, so isolated? We yearn for a sense of community that we can't seem to find. We ache for the deep connections that we can't seem to feel.
Where are these commonplace insecurities rooted?
Perhaps rather than taking the time to water our roots, we're simply scattering seeds in the hopes that they'll stick.
There are so many elements that encompass the deep dynamic of the moving millennial. In a way, we’ve been led to fear the stable, the consistent, the connection. We were always told we could do it all and see it all. With such an expectation, you either keep moving or get left behind.
Sure, spurts of self-reflection are the definition of twenty-something's. In the four years since college graduation, I’ve lived in five different apartments across the same city. Were rising costs often a catalyst for those moves? Sure, but rent is besides the point. There was always something enticing about the newness of a move, the opportunities, the potential. Yet, every move resulted in much of the same.
As a hopeless wanderer, I never expected that within the first few months of trying on my wobbly adult feet, I'd stumble into a city that brought me a sense of belonging. Then I hit 23. Suddenly, the Dallas shine began to dim. While reflection is a regularly scheduled program in my life, this was a particularly unjustified reaction. Two years in and I wondered why I wasn’t finding the relationships I expected to simply stumble upon. Why meeting men in the same setting (bars, obvi) was resulting in the same anti-climactic relationships. Why frequenting same places left me with a lack of adventure.
I turned to the only reason I could think of: it must be the city. All my friends are moving, why wouldn’t I?
While plotting my escape, I continued to overlook my self-built barriers; it was easier to blindly look outward than blame inward. THERE'S NO WAY IT COULD BE ME. Ha. Ha. No, of course not. Right? Wrong.
The likelihood of finding much of the same in a different city was beyond a question mark. After so much of the same, I started to focus on fulfilling my own passions, passing on the surface-level and digging into the deep.
Everything started to shift. I took a long hard look in the mirror and realized that in order to create the connections that I had been hoping for - with the city, with the people - that I’d need to commit to them. By pouring energy and enthusiasm into the things around me, the environment started pushing those same elements back to me. The man of my dreams quite literally danced right into my life.
I learned that without effort, a place is merely a place and a face is nothing but a face.
There’s a study that compared the amount of options to satisfaction levels. A group of people was split down the middle. Half of those people were given ten ice cream flavors to choose from. The other half given just two - vanilla and chocolate. When the groups were asked how happy they were with their selection, which of the two do you think were more satisfied with their choice? The group that choose between two. Why is this? Because they had less regret when looking back at the options they could have had – they felt infinitely more confident with their decision.
In this connected world, choosing where we live can feel no different than choosing what ice cream we eat. We no longer have the communication inconsistencies, the transportation troubles. Living long distance is easier than ever. From our families, from our partners, and yes, even from our jobs. With our phones and our planes - we live in a time without barriers.
Adventure and novelty can be built within the familiar. New opportunities can lead you to wonderful places but at the end of the day, your home is your heart. Take the time to ask yourself - is moving more about running towards something wonderful or away from the creepy monster that chases you? Find comfort from within and follow the direction it leads you.