When you move around a lot as a kid, there is nothing quite like getting put on the spot with the question, "So, where are you from?" Personally, I was born in Nashville, but if you asked me at six, I would have said Los Angeles. If you asked me at 11, I would have told you Seattle. If you asked me at 17, I would have said Northern Virginia. If you asked me right this second, I'm not even sure what I'd tell you, except that it will 100 percent end with "BUT I LIVE IN NEW YORK NOW!!" since it took me approximately eight seconds after moving here to become obnoxious about it (did you hear I live in New York???).
The truth is that "where I'm from" tends to shift depending on who I'm talking to — which has, on occasion, mortally confused friends. I have a well-rehearsed chronology of my human existence in response to all the, "Wait, didn't you say the other day you were from [insert city here]?" And while people sometimes seem a little shocked by all the cities I've lived in or around by my age, the truth is, I wouldn't have it any other way. So much of it influenced who I am and what I want out of life, that if I had stayed in one place my whole childhood, I probably wouldn't even recognize myself. Here are all the ways moving around as a kid sets you up to be a boss adult:
You Have A Much Stronger Sense Of Self
You recognize early in life that there are some parts of you that change depending on where you are planted, but more importantly, that there are core parts of you that never change no matter the circumstance. It becomes easier to listen to your gut when you've learned to filter out the background noise of your surroundings.
You Find Common Ground With People Much Faster
When you've lived in a bunch of different places, the statistical odds are just more in your favor that you'll have lived in the same city as someone you're talking to, or someone that they know and love. It's a little thing, sure, but when you're far from home or far from someone you love, being able to talk to someone who "gets it" is a very quick bonding experience for you both.
You Put A Lot Less Stock In Material Things
I mean, yes, I am personally a bit of a pack rat. But when it comes to cleaning house, moving, or packing for a trip, I am absolutely savage about getting rid of things that don't have any kind of sentimental value. You come to appreciate the things you get real, genuine use out of and things that remind you of happy memories versus things that are just taking up space.
You Get Less Sentimental About Moving On
Be it moves for work, getting over a rough breakup, or ending some chapter in your life in general, you are a lot less likely to linger in uncertainty or the kind of nostalgia that makes you second guess your decisions. You're not the kid who cried on graduation day, but the kid who blew a grateful kiss and drove away.
You Are Your Own Personal Ice Breaker
In fact, you are more irritated by dumb ice breaker games than possibly any person on the planet. You've never needed to force a conversation with anyone; you've had enough practice that you can get into an easy back and forth with just about anyone.
You Are Fearless When It Comes To Traveling
And when you're traveling with friends, you're almost always the one making the plans. You're used to swimming in unfamiliar waters, and the idea of it fills you with so much more excitement than anxiety.
You Get A Much Clearer Idea Of What You Want Out Of Life Early On
Sure, the picture is always going to be vague and the future is far from under your control. But when you move a lot you meet all sorts of people and are exposed to all sorts of ideas that you wouldn't be if you stayed in one place, and from that exposure you can much more easily rule out places you don't want to live, lifestyles that don't suit you, and careers you don't want to pursue from the ones that you might want to try.
You Have A Much Deeper Understanding Of What Makes Something A "Home"
Anyone can learn how to "belong" somewhere and call it their home; that's what happens when you move around a lot as a kid. You internalize your surroundings and adjust. But when you're all grown up and steering your own ship, you figure out that home wasn't the cities you lived in or the childhood houses with all your memories or even the place you happen to live right now, but where your family is.
Your Enduring Friendships Are That Much More Meaningful To You
It's one thing to stay friends with someone you lived down the street from your whole childhood — it's quite another to stay friends with people you've moved away from, especially when you've moved away from multiple places. Not a lot of your friendships will last, but the ones that do become such an inextricable, essential part of you that you would never have appreciated if you had the luxury of seeing them all the time.
You Know You Can't Outrun Your Problems
In adulthood, a lot of people have "escape fantasies" — the idea that if they move to a new city, get a new job, rent a new apartment, they can outrun their problems. As someone who did a ton of moving and reinventing early in life, you already know that you can't outrun the things that bother you, and in adulthood you face them head on.
You Have So Many More Roots To Visit
When you move around a lot as a kid, it feels like there are little seeds of yourself planted all over. When you go back to one of those places, you go back to a specific time and place, a specific version of yourself — you as a little kid, you in your preteens, you in your existentially fraught pre-college phase. It's so much easier to access those parts of yourself when you can associate them with different places, and so much easier to share with the people you love when you go back together.
You Don't Wait For Permission From The Universe To Make Big Changes In Your Life
You don't second guess or worst case scenario yourself, you don't consult everyone around you for their opinions, and you certainly don't wait for some sort of "sign". You are your own master, and you know from a lifetime of new experiences that no matter what comes your way, you're going to be fine.