Far from the best times of my life, my mid-to-late twenties were an extended pity party. Professionally, emotionally, and physically, I was stuck in a place I didn’t want to be.
Hate is too light a word to describe how I felt there. It’s a perfectly fine place for some people to live, but for me, I was dying.
I felt bad for feeling so bad when I knew there were people in much worse situations around the world. So I heaped guilt on top of my sadness because I was safe, fed, and yet still miserable.
Many days of the 13 years I was there, I felt like life was a test I was failing, until I made some key changes that helped me survive.
When life gets rough, wallowing is seductive. Things are unfair. Your hard work isn’t being rewarded. You once had hopes, dreams, expectations, but now they’ve been replaced with disappointments.Those thoughts were taking over my whole life, so I challenged myself to not complain for 40 days. Quickly I saw when I limited my complaints, my day was better. I didn’t have to pretend everything was alright. I just had to learn that constant complaining only made me feel worse. I had to stop complaining to free my mind to think about something else and to open myself to feel emotions other than the sadness and anger that were dominating me.
Because I felt so ungrateful, giving back to the community restored some positivity in my life. It was important to stop focusing on my personal disappointments and to have something positive to connect with my being.
We had day trips, weekend trips, and week-long trips. I went by myself, with friends, and with the husband when he could get away. Each mile I left the town, I could literally breathe easier.
Part of why I hated where I was, was there was so little of interest to me. There was only so much $2 Buck Chuck I could swig on my lonesome before I decided to try out the best the area had to offer. Turns out hiking and tailgating are pretty fun, as were many other random things I tried. Even things that weren’t great, I was glad I could say I tried so I wouldn’t regret it later.
IM was often the best part of my day. Even if I couldn’t be with so many loved ones, talking to them throughout my day reduced the emotional distance while we were still physically far apart.
It’s harder to feel good about anything when your body feels bad. Giving up a poor diet and tapping into natural endorphins through working out really helped me to enjoy life again.
Work is such a large part of the day. If you’re both miserable with work and where you live, it’s nearly impossible not to be unhappy all the time. If you can’t move, try to find a better job or make your job work better for you. For me that meant changing my job a few times and then going part-time.
Worrying about money just makes everything worse. Get your finances in order so that’s one less thing you have weighing you down. Plus when you get the opportunity to move, you won’t have finances holding you back.
Especially the ones that you might not be able to practice elsewhere. For me it was chicken keeping. I had the space and time to explore gardening and other outdoors things that were delightful. I don’t know when we’ll be able to have chickens again, but I’m so glad I was able to have them at least once.
It’s cheesy, but books can transport your mind to all kinds of places. It was easier for me to get lost in a book than in a TV show or movie, plus it lasted longer and I had greater emotional connections to stories. Joining a book club where I could enjoy wine instead of whining was therapeutic.
As a direct result of all these, my life improved. I met new people and strengthened existing friendships. It was rough going, but eventually I found a much needed village that made a huge difference for the remainder of my time there.
We’ve been in our new city for over a year now, and every day I’m so grateful. I worried at times that we’d finally move, and I’d still be unhappy because the problem was me, not the place. People will tell you to bloom where you’re planted, but you can’t put a full sun plant in the shade expecting it to thrive.
There’s nothing wrong with not being happy where you are.
It’s not a shortcoming or a personal failure. What is a problem is to allow it to destroy you. Move where you can thrive when you can, and until that point, try some of what worked for me to get by.