Why You Should Frequently Check-in With Your Future Self.

I go back and forth a lot on where I’d like to live.

I have always wanted to live in a big city.

Maybe in an apartment above downtown; where I’d ditch the car and walk to everything I may need. Entertainment and restaurants on every corner. A different coffee shop on every street.

I have also wanted to live in the country.

On a plot of land where if I were to walk outside of my house naked, no one would see me. And when the sun sets, there’s no buildings to block the view as the sky changes colors. A large garden in the back yard, just in front of the dirt bike track I’ve built for myself my children.

But then I also think to myself:

A city? When will I see grass? How long will it take to get to a river? Can I even open my blinds at night if I’m naked?! (Apparently the ability to be naked in peace is important to me…)

The country? How long will it take to get the the grocery store? Do I have to mow my own yard? How much time will that take? Where do I go out to eat? Can I order delivery? Do coffee shops exist here?! (You know, important things…)

Of course these aren’t the only things I think about. There’s plenty more to consider. But with a nice broad statement I can simplify it to this:

Live within the hustle and bustle of a city, or the calm quiet of the country?

City life can appear to be all about the competitions. Always finding the next best things, always seeing the next new show. Always going to that next best restaurant.

In the country though? Not much changes. It’s the same bar with the same staff and the same regulars. You walk in and you know 90% of the people there. (Except for that one shady looking tourist in the corner… I’m onto you, you shady looking fella…)

Now I realize these are extremes. Say, Chicago, IL vs the town of Longville, MN. (Longville has about 100 people, but hey, they have their own school!)

Obviously, these extremes don’t have to be met. I’m just using them to make a point.

There is plenty of middle ground, and probably a city for every part of the spectrum. The unfortunate thing is that I can’t seem to decide which end I want to be closer to.

The city extreme or the country extreme?

City:

I feel a pull towards the city life. Sometimes I feel as if I am missing out the the latest movies. Or there’s a play on tour that I can’t see because they don’t come to a theater near me. Living in a city means the popular concerts, performances, and other hot ticket items will reach your town. Where I grew up was similar to this. We were 20 min from the capital and we could hit up a concert every night if we wanted. Now where I live, I’m lucky if things are open past 9. And generally the places that are open past 9, aren’t places I want to be.

Country:

The country grows its appeal because it’s nice not having 1000 concerts pull for your attention. There’s no contemplating what to do on a friday night because there’s only a handful of things to choose from. There’s something to be said about this simplicity. But at the same time, lack of choice can lead to monotony. I realize that this is totally fine for some people. They love going to the same places again and again where everyone knows their name. And a night spent in, or working on their garden, is better than any night at a concert or other event.

Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed by what’s around me, the country seems like the best place to be.

In a place where my options are limited for me. (I am NOT a great decision maker. I’m working on it). It’s also nice to walk into the coffee shop to quickly grab a cup and run errands, but oh hey! There’s Jerry! Better go say hi! And ok look, Beth has just arrived! Let’s talk for 20 min and catch up on each others lives! 2 hours later you forgot why you’ve left your house and you know everyone at the coffee shop.

This is a great feeling.

I have a location now that is similar to this, (and I must admit, walking into a bar and not having your ID checked while a beer is being poured for you without ordering is quite nice. You simply sit down and the beer appears, magic!) Unfortunately, this is also terrifying. Is this what my life has come to? Is everything I do predictable? Am I doomed to walk the earth in habit forever?!*

Currently, I live in what I consider to be “a small town” I know there’s probably a lot of people who disagree with that, but compared to the town I grew up in, 27,000 people is very small. This is hard for me. Yes there’s places to eat and large chain stores, but everything closes at 9. Although in the summer they’ll stay open until 10 for tourists (Thank you tourists!).

On the plus side, only 20 min away is a town much bigger, and far busier! Things close at midnight and 2am on weekends (except for a rare few places) but as I have the sleep schedule of a small child or elderly adult, midnight is about all I can handle.

Sometimes I feel like I should be going out every weekend, checking out the latest band, trying that new drink, hitting up every event the city has to offer. But then I also feel like I just want to head to the local brewery, say hi to my bartender friends (whom I befriended after frequenting their bar so often) and go to bed at 10pm. That sounds like a totally satisfying Friday night.

So why then, do I feel guilty when I don’t head “downtown”? When I don’t sip on mixed drinks? When I don’t attend the latest festival? Or take photos of my fancy food? Or buy new clothes?

The fear of missing out.

The fear that somehow, some way, I’m missing some life changing thing that I need to be apart of. And you know what? It almost never is. Yes, I have a wonderful time. But I have yet to go out for a night and come home to think “Wow! That was udderly life changing!” (Again with the extremes to make a point…) New Years Eve, 2016, I wanted to go downtown, but my friends were doing things I wasn’t interested in, and I ended up staying in. At the time it was frustrating. Why did no one want to go out with me?! And as I sat there, angry and confused, it hit me. A week from now, looking back on this night, will I regret my decision to stay in? No. No I would not.

So Izzy and I rang in the new year watching The Incredibles. And it was, well… incredible!

Looking back at it months later, I’m happy I stayed in. No ragrets. Not even one letter.

You’re probably thinking to yourself:

“What does this have to do with her debacle about living in the city or country?”

Everything!

The reason I feel the need to live in a city, is because I feel like I’m missing out. And that fear of missing out makes me want to live there to be a part of it all.

The fear of missing out is not a great reason to move to a big city. And by checking in with my future self I was able to ask the question “When I look back on this moment, will I regret being where I am now?” When the answer is yes, I will change things. But so long as I keep living my Unicorn life, I don’t see me moving to a big city anytime soon.

So does this mean I’ll live in the country for the rest of my life? Meh, I don’t really know.

What I do know, is that I’m right where I want to be. And when I think of my future self looking back at this time in my life, I don’t think I’ll have any regrets.

*Speaking of habits, total side note.

There are some really awesome studies on habit formation. One of them follows a man who lost his ability to form short term memories. He can’t explain to you how to get to the bathroom in his house, but out of nowhere he would stand up and head to the bathroom. You’d ask him how to get there upon his return and again, he’d have no idea how to tell you. Him and his wife went for a walk every day but then one day she couldn’t take him, and he went missing. Turn out, he went on the walk without her, because it had formed into a habit. (Like going to the bathroom). He didn’t know where he was or where he was going, but every day he made that walk and his body did it out of habit. If a marker along the walk changes (like a mailbox or a car blocking the path) he becomes lost and cannot find his way home. So, if I do the same things every day and I lose my short term memory, it would be a shame if the second the sun sets, I found myself headed to the bar….

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