On my 10 mile bike ride tonight, I found myself stopping over and over to take photos of the beautiful scenery–the contrast of the red leaves of the trees with the yellow of the soybeans, the bright blue skies, horizons of windmills and fields peppered with old red barns. I limited myself to 6 stops for photos in the interest of time, but stepped away with a realization. Time and time again over the last several weeks, I have found myself in awe of the beauty that is rural Iowa.
After graduating this spring, I was so set on getting out of dodge. Starting life somewhere new. Living somewhere with mountains along the horizon or a place where there was something fun to do any given night, but I found myself here. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have any hesitations returning to rural Iowa. I worried people may think I was a ‘sell-out’ after all my talk of moving away, I worried I might get bored out of my mind and I wondered if by returning to a familiar place I wasn’t challenging myself.
It took a lot of chats with loved ones, reflection and prayer to feel like my move was a good choice, but little things everyday make me feel more affirmed. This includes drives home gazing at the rolling hills and trees as they are starting to turn, getting to know individuals on a personal level at work because I work in a small hospital, and ultimately feeling like I can truly make a big impact on this community because when you have ideas in a rural place, you can really make them happen. You see a need, and you make a change. My boss and I were talking about this the other day and she said, “the great thing about living and working in rural areas is you can write your own story.” I had never really considered this, but I completely agree. I have a lot of big ideas for things I can do to add to the rehab department and better serve the community through my work as an OT, and I can’t wait to see how it can improve lives. ♥
While reflecting, I thought of the phenomenon, “Happiness Destination Syndrome.” This is where one doesn’t believe they will fully experience happiness until they are at the next destination in life… thinking things like, “I’ll be truly happy when I move to that city,” or, “things will be better when I have a boyfriend,” “once I have kids, I’ll finally be happy.” This kind of thought process is crippling. Imagine delaying fully experiencing joy until that next happening, not truly living in the moment and taking for granted the blessings we already have in our lives. I’m just as guilty of this as the next person. I know it was often the mindset I had when considering life post-grad. “Everything will be great when I live in Denver with my best friend and can meet new and interesting people and hike in the mountains as much as possible, blah blah…” When we have these internal thoughts playing on repeat, we are bound to feel disappointed when life takes us in another direction. But these are the times I go back to my faith. I know I am exactly where God wants me to be right now.
I know I’m going to learn so much at the hospital I’m employed at. The memories I make with my family including memories with my new little niece or nephew are going to be priceless. I may not have a boyfriend, and I may not be working towards a little family like a lot of other people my age, but I think God is working through me in my time of singleness. I’m able to volunteer more, spend more time with friends and family, spend time working on my health and wellness, complete a bunch of craft projects, grow stronger in my faith… there are so many perks to consider even though society may have you thinking you’re missing out.
I think I am happier than I have been in a long time. I’m not where I thought I would be, but I have a cozy home with my furry best friend to come home to every night, I spend more time alone than I have in years (which used to make me feel lonely), and I’ve had time to consider where my life is at right now. Third Eye Blind’s song, “Motorcycle Driveby” has the lyrics, “I’ve never been so alone, and I’ve never felt so alive,” and I resonate with them so much. I’m alone. I’m blessed beyond measure and I’m so excited for the future that is to come. And I feel so alive.
I leave you with this: instead of believing adventure is around the bend, believe that adventure (and/or happiness) is where you make it. If you’re not happy, change what you’re doing. I challenge you to consider what you can do in the life you’re currently living to feel more fulfilled and whole. Happiness is not a destination and it is not elusive. Live the life you have always wanted and do the things you have most desired to do and see what happens. You may be surprised at the results.