I moved to Philly on Nov 9th, 2015, I’d started traveling on my own last year and was trying to work up the courage to attempt a more permanent change. Although I don’t think I was fully conscious that was what I was doing. At first I was very uncomfortable with the idea of leaving Grand Rapids, it is my home, it's where my family is --where I grew up, but the biggest idea that both kept me, and ended up suffocating me was: THEY NEED ME HERE.
My family needs me; I am the oldest of 6 kids - I helped raise my siblings - I can’t leave.
I am a key part of our family business - I can’t leave.
I am an important part of the creative culture in Grand Rapids - I can’t leave.
All of these things have one glaring thing in common; they are not something I chose for myself - but was born into. As I entered adulthood I began the painstaking process of becoming independent, figuring out who I was as an individual. Through therapy I realized that in my childhood I had felt more like a co-parent than a kid - and that I still felt a huge amount of responsibility. But responsibility is a good thing right? how could that be bad? I knew how to cook for 8 people, change a diaper, sell art, I was “so mature for my age!”
When I moved out I ended up repeating the pattern.
I rented a large house in Grand Rapids, and filled it with young creative kids - they offered me a chance to party like I hadn’t in my teens and I would be in charge of paying the rent on time and managing the bills and communicating with the landlord. This is not at all something I did consciously at all and I was beginning to really resent my role. No one had asked me to shoulder everything - but I thought making myself needed meant making myself loved.
The problem with this is that being the "House Mom" is not fun, sexy, or rewarding. I absolutely would not recommend it in your early 20’s! With the help of therapy I was able to see the pattern and decided to try to be radically selfish (doesn’t that just sound awful?) after all I am no one's mother -- maybe I will be someday, maybe not, but right now I am choosing to focus on taking care of myself and figuring out what I really want. I am going to get messy and irresponsible and I am going to make mistakes. Moving to Philly is a part of that and I am truly entering new territory in more ways than one.
Disclaimer: In spite of a few exceptions the people I’ve lived with have been wonderful and the responsibility I felt was entirely self-imposed.