I never thought I would move back to the Cleveland area, where I grew up. Being a college professor meant I didn’t have the luxury of picking the city where I wanted to live and then finding a job there. When people asked me where I wanted to live, I told them this, but I also knew that if I could pick, I’d stay in the Chicago area- where I went to college. A lot of my college friends still live there (at the time and now), I have a lot of favorite local spots, and I loved the convenience of public transit.
I recently returned from visiting my friends in Chicago. I had an amazing time on my visit, but it also made me realize some things about my life. I love where I live now. I love living in the suburbs- it’s so convenient to have the certainty of driving yourself, knowing you’ll find parking, and not having to deal with crazy city traffic. Plus, I can afford a pretty big condo, I have a yard, and I always feel safe in my neighborhood.
A few years back when I was first on the job market, there was a job I applied for in Naperville (a Chicago suburb) and was absolutely crushed that I didn’t get it. Now, I am grateful that I didn’t, because it meant I ended up back in Cleveland. I love living close to family and my high school friends. When I went away for college I looked down on the people who stayed local, but now I’m so happy to be back near people and places that I love.
My job is another one of the best parts of moving back. I absolutely love my colleagues and have made good friends among them already. I didn’t realize how rare this was until recently, in a conversation with a friend of mine. He mentioned how he takes about an hour to craft emails. After expressing my surprise, I said it might take me awhile (though closer to 30 rather than 60 minutes) to write a difficult email to a student. He clarified: not every email, but emails to his colleagues. There were a few nods as other friends of mine agreed that those emails took the longest for them to write too.
I laughed because those were probably the ones that took me the shortest. I have the kind of relationship with my coworkers where they tell me only to send pictures of the inside when I’m at a conference in a tropical location, so I send them photos of the palm trees and river out the window. A recent email I got from my department chair (kind of like your boss in academia) asking me for the title of a journal article I recently published had only this content: “Pls send so I do not have to look up and instead can just sit here looking out window…” The conversation with my friends made me appreciate how lucky I am to have such amazing coworkers at my job.
It’s so easy to focus on what you don’t have. I’m a very goal-oriented person, so I think about goals- necessarily things I don’t currently have- even more often than usual. Recently, after my breakup, I’ve spent a lot of time obsessing about how I don’t have a romantic relationship. It’s the kind of obsessing, of course, that doesn’t consider what I do have. I have an amazing home, job, coworkers, family, friends, and more. Take a moment to be grateful for the things in your life that you love. Be sure to spend at least as much time appreciating what you have as you do pining for what you don’t.