There is always value in putting down roots. As humans we have the capacity to connect with the world around us in a significant and meaningful way. It’s incredible to sit back for a moment and realize that after months of struggling to find your place, you finally had an interaction with someone that felt completely normal or familiar. You feel at home. Or being shocked that after only three weeks on a study abroad trip you could fall completely in love with a city and culture that you hadn’t even been aware of before. Like all this time it’s been there, waiting patiently, ready for you to fall into step with the narrow streets and easy pace of life.
Making a home in a new place is also an incredibly vulnerable thing to try. You have to give yourself completely to the experience of existing where you are and sometimes it doesn’t pay off. Most true heartache comes either from having to pull out a root, or from having never put down roots in the first place. If you don’t give yourself to the place you’re in, you miss out on all the opportunities for growth and excitement and new things. You will live somewhere but it will not be your home.
But when you do put down your roots and you fall in love with where you are, you make deep relationships and have memories that become more a part of your soul than your mind, that can be even more painful. Because almost every where you are, you will eventually have to leave.
This thought comes as I approach moving away from my college town in about 2 months. I have loved living here. Truly I have loved it, and I have made friendships that will endure long after I leave. It will be very hard to leave this campus with its beautiful oak trees and old brick buildings. But it will be even harder to leave the familiarity of sitting under those oak trees eating lunch with my friends, and the each of those brick buildings in which I have spent countless hours learning and shaping my mind into what it is now.
Putting down roots can be sad, but only because for a time it was very very good.
So if I could give some advice to people who have just arrived in a new phase of their life, and that includes myself here in a few months, give it your best shot. I don’t mean that in a patronizing way, I mean truly try as hard as you can. If you’re starting university, don’t go home every weekend. Give yourself a chance to miss what you had and embrace what you have now. If you just moved houses, try to create new memories that will rival the old ones. If you’re moving to another country, give yourself over to the culture. Go to that cafe enough to the point where the workers know your faces, meet people, be uncomfortable, make friendships that will suck when either one of you has to leave. Exist fully in the reality that you now live in.
It might hurt, but it is the only thing that makes living somewhere worthwhile.