I have always considered myself a nomad. Never quite settled anywhere, always searching for the next adventure, the next learning experience, moving from place to place. Ultimately, I think I have just been looking for the place where I fit.
One of my favourite quotes comes from J.R.R. Tolkien’s poem “All that is gold does not glitter”. You’re probably familiar with it (and if you’re not, get out from under that rock!). The line is ‘Not all those who wander are lost.’ I have always found so much peace in that one line, because I am definitely a wanderer, and at various points in my life I have gotten the impression that some people feel sorry for me for not being more settled, or for not knowing exactly what it is I’m looking for. Or worse: they are smug…as though their path and their choices were smarter/better/more socially normal than mine. And while it may indeed be the case that I have taken the long route to finding something I didn’t even know I was looking for, I was never lost. Or if I was, I was lost in the right direction. And having a lot of fun while I was at it.
The reason behind my nomadic tendencies is Psychology 101: I moved around a lot as I was growing up. My dad was in the Air Force, and we were transferred every 1-4 years. This transient lifestyle was all I knew, and it didn’t bother me. Every few years, I experienced the excitement of a new town, new house, new bedroom, new school, new friends. Change was very comfortable for me; it wasn’t difficult to detach and start over.
That love for change didn’t, er, change, as I got older. I actively sought it. Adventures were everywhere! I tried a variety of part-time jobs – from retail sales to pizza maker to bartender to camp counsellor to marina supervisor – switching when one became boring or when a cooler opportunity presented itself. I chose to go abroad to complete my teaching degree in Australia. I tried living on my own, living with one roommate, living with two, five. Renting and owning. Securing a permanent teaching contract didn’t stop me from pursuing change: I took a leave to work at a bank for several months (a story for another time), moved to Korea to teach at an international school for two years (another story), spent two more years as a Literacy/Numeracy Coach, and earned my Special Education Specialist designation to move out of the classroom and into a resource position. Stay in the classroom for my entire career? Wha…?
I think my love affair with change also played a big role in my romantic relationships. I could write a book about my dating experiences, there were so many. That essential connection eluded me though – or maybe I just got bored or distracted before the connection surfaced – so I was always ending one dating encounter and eagerly seeking the next.
If I wasn’t physically wandering to another part of the world, I was mentally wandering to other opportunities, goals, and relationships. There was a restlessness I lived with – always wondering where I’d be going next, and if I would ever be able to just stop and be where I was, and be happy there.
My mom used to say that she watched my life with a bowl of popcorn.
And then I met my husband. I call him my game changer.
The journey that started when he entered my life has been, by far, my favourite adventure. Maybe it’s because our love story started later in life, but things moved quickly, and that connection revealed itself immediately. No boredom, no distractions, just a solid sense that he was exactly where I was meant to be. He gave me something that no person or opportunity had ever been able to give me before: a reason to stop wandering.
And now, nearly 3 years later, I am about to have our first child (for the love of all things good, Baby, PLEASE come out today!). We bought what we call our ‘Forever Home’ in the ‘burbs, which I have neurotically fluffed and nested and organized, and now we live this cozy existence that I never really imagined for myself.
I still consider myself a nomad. It’s just who I am. But now I am anchored by some of the best things I never even knew I wanted. I am a happily anchored nomad; I found where I fit.