I knew when I was growing up that I would never stay in my home state longer than I had to. It never felt like the place I was meant to be, and as much as I loved it, I knew I needed to leave. Leaving is one of the best things I've ever done for myself, and I truly think it's something everyone should experience if they can.
I grew up in a small town in Ohio that, while lovely, didn't have a lot to offer me for what I wanted for my future. I knew I wanted to be a journalist and I knew local newspapers weren't the right fit for me. I wanted the big-time in the big city, so I left for college in Florida (not a big city, but it was a step) and I only moved up from there. My mom told me when I left for school at 18 that she knew I would never come back. She wasn't wrong.
To me, I need to miss things to really appreciate them.
Since leaving at 18, I went to Florida for school, Illinois for a Summer internship, California for six years, and now New York City. Each state has added something to my life, whether it's work experience, life experience, or people. But here is the most important thing that leaving home has given me: a renewed appreciation for Ohio. I didn't like it there while I was growing up because my town was small and boring for a teenager. Now I'm excited every time I go back to visit, because it's small and quiet and a drastic change of pace from my busy New York lifestyle.
To me, I need to miss things to really appreciate them. Too much of something makes it lose its luster. There are times when I want to move to my favorite cities (London and Los Angeles) but I worry that if I live there I won't love them as much. There will probably come a day when I feel this way about New York and want someplace new, but so far I haven't reached that since this city has so much to offer.
Moving to a new place is terrifying. If you're moving somewhere you're not familiar with and where you don't know anyone, it can be a lot to face, which is why I feel like a lot of people don't move around much. It's easier to settle into what you know and, frankly, already love. Many of my friends I grew up with are comfortable and happy in Ohio, and I love that for them. But sometimes taking that leap into the unknown can lead to huge and amazing things. I wouldn't have met some of the best people I know if I hadn't left Ohio. I wouldn't have gotten to write amazing stories about those amazing people if I hadn't left Ohio.
It all comes from being willing to take a risk and try something new. Even if you don't leave your home state permanently, even leaving for a year or a couple months teaches you a lot. And even if you leave for a few months and realize you hate the place you've gone and all you want is to go back home, at least you tried it and learned that where you came from is where you want to be.
Now I feel grateful that I grew up in a small town that was easygoing and simple. I can appreciate that when I was 10 years old, I could run around the neighborhood with my friends after dark and play games and not worry about anything. And now I'm excited to go back and visit and will proudly tell everyone that I'm from Ohio. It may not be where I live now, but it'll always be home.