Need help living in the here and now.
March 14, 2013 3:04 PM   Subscribe

I have a lot of exciting stuff coming up in the next few years of my life, but before I get there I have to somehow slog through the doldrums of my current life. Help me live in the present.

The next few years look like they're going to be very exciting. My boyfriend and I are planning on getting formally engaged and then hitched. We live in different cities right now, but will be moving back to my hometown - a large city that I know and love. I still have a lot of friends there and am really looking forward to being nearby again. We are planning to buy a house. I will be looking for a new job there (one reason why this question is anonymous...) and that is scary, but this is overwhelmingly a good thing and I'm really excited.

The problem is, I have to live through the next year or so in my current town, at my current job, far away from my friends, and probably keeping mum about this whole getting-married-moving-away thing. I have a demanding job in my current town and have spent most of my time here really throwing myself into the work. I spend most of my not-work time alone, or on the phone/chat with my boyfriend and my friends in my hometown.

I know that my workplace deserves an employee that is 100% devoted to the job, and I am trying to be that person. Even if I leave tomorrow (or next year), I will do my job as if I'll be here forever. But it's hard to look too far into the future when I know I won't be here. I have a high-level leadership position in the community, so I won't just be quietly sneaking out the back door.

I feel hesitant making friends and meeting people in my current town, knowing that I will be leaving in the next 1-2 years. I'm kind of bored and lonely right now, but don't feel like putting the effort into meeting people if I'm just going to leave. Oh, it's not like I'm a hermit. I HAVE friends...they just live in my hometown. I go to visit often and I am in contact with some of them almost daily.

I want to do good in the community, but I don't want to get involved in projects that I will just have to leave. Instead, I find myself perusing community involvement in my hometown, daydreaming about doing this-or-that once I get there.

I feel like I'm doing myself and my current town a disservice by "living in the future". I'm struggling to focus on here-and-now instead of there-and-soon. How do I do this? Does anyone have any suggestions for being present while the super-exciting future looms just around the bend?
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
In certain situations, living in the present is just depressing, and living in the future (to some extent - not to such an extent that you walk into lamp-posts or can't do your job) is what keeps you healthy. So I wouldn't worry about it too much if you find yourself planning for the future.

One thing I would definitely say to do, though, is explore/travel around where you live now. Unless it's very close to where you're moving, you might not get to (or want to) go back. And even towns that seem boring can be fascinating once you really look, or have fascinating places nearby or easily accessible. Often you find out about those places after you've moved away, and then you regret having missed them. Traveling is also great because you don't need to make local friends or get involved in any community stuff to do it. And, since you're getting engaged/married soon, this might be your last opportunity for a while to travel however you like, all by yourself.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 3:15 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

The world is smaller than you think. Just because you are leaving this current town doesn't mean you won't be back and it doesn't mean you won't ever keep in touch with the people you meet there. You're obviously good at keeping in touch with people despite distance, so is it just that you really hate your current town and won't ever be back?

I'm guessing that even if you think that now, you're going to feel nostalgia for this place- even if the circumstances aren't ideal, it is/will have been your home for several years. Wouldn't you like to have two places that you really know and where you have friends and a network?
posted by thewumpusisdead at 3:36 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Absolutely explore the area around you. I've lived in a handful of cities across the country, and even though I felt like I knew them pretty well by the time I left, I still have regrets on missing on things I should have been taking advantage of while I lived there. I've been in my current city for eight years already, but just recently bought a book of day trips accessible from this area and intend to do a better job of making that kind of thing a priority. There is so much to see in the world no matter where you are!

Also, really try to appreciate living on your own. I love my husband and my cats and my house, but I do miss living alone at times, having a space that is completely my own and having long stretches of unencumbered free time when I could, say, watch seventeen episodes of Pretty Little Liars in a row without commentary (no matter how good-natured) from the peanut gallery.

Basically, try to imagine how you'll feel looking back on this time, your last year living on your own, when you are older. Imagine how you'll have wanted to spend that time, the things you will have wished you'd done - and do them, as much as possible. Even though it feels like you're just waiting for your "real" life to start, you'll regret it someday if you sit around wishing this time away.
posted by something something at 3:36 PM on March 14, 2013

Pretend you are a tourist who will never be back. What local stuff would you like to see and do before your chance is gone forever?

I was a military wife. We lived like perpetual tourists. When we got orders for a new duty station, we began researching touristy stuff to do and started a list, then tried to fit some in on every long weekend. In contrast, most military couples seemed to act like "we just live here" until they got new orders and then seemed to suddenly realize they might never be back and suddenly wanted to hit some of the local highlights while they still could.

I have also noticed that many people seem to only be interested in going to museums or the like when they travel but have never been to their local museum. There appears to be a high correlation between folks who think their town is boring and folks who don't do stuff locally. Folks who tell you how great their city is seem to be the same folks who go do stuff locally -- the museum, the library, the zoo, whatever.

So get on the internet and google up interesting local facts and start checking out what there is to see and do. If it is the middle of freaking nowhere and cannot compete with your beloved big city hometown for "culture," then go hiking, go bird watching, go fishing -- go do all that country stuff you will never do again once you get back to city life.
posted by Michele in California at 3:38 PM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

A lot can happen between now and then. Why not make friends? It's not like you have to communicate by carrier pigeon after you move away. Bloom where you're planted. Explore, join, live in the real world. You don't have a box of fun that can be depleted in the next year.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:38 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I feel hesitant making friends and meeting people in my current town, knowing that I will be leaving in the next 1-2 years

That's kind of a long time. Meet people.

Also, last year I was in a very similar position to you, and knew that shortly I was going to get married and move away and start a new job. I was focused on the future 24/7. But here's future you telling you that while being married and living close to friends and having a new and exciting life is awesome... Being a single gal on her own in a different city was pretty cool too. Do some touristy things, lounge around all day watching your favorite tv show, and enjoy some long peaceful weekend workouts.

Moving and getting married are also two huge life changes, so you can also work on mentally prepping yourself for the transition. Start meditating! And/or journal. Have fun.
posted by murfed13 at 3:53 PM on March 14, 2013

You're current approach is setting you up for difficulty. Life changes fast, and life happens while one is making plans.

Your thinking is the equivalent of putting all your future eggs in one basket, and cracking the ones you currently have in hand. Embrace your town and make friends in the present, it will never hurt you.
posted by Kruger5 at 4:17 PM on March 14, 2013

Agree with the advice to make friends. I moved to a remote location from my home and knew that I would only be there for 1 year, but I still tried to make friends out there while I was at that job. It was a challenge to find the friends, because my colleagues at work were generally either older or younger than I was, but I did a platonic w2w craigslist ad and got a few promising responses. It helped to be able to scout them on Facebook first to see whether they were really my type of people. I only ended up really hanging out with 2 of them, and I'll probably never see those people again now that I've moved back to my home area, but I'm glad I made friends with them, and I'm still in touch with them on Facebook. The nice thing about having local friends who really know the area is that they know all the events and great places and can show them to you.

Because of my newly made friends, I found out about some really cool things, like a beautiful state park, some great bike trails, or when the symphony was playing, or a performance by a local theater group, etc. I definitely would not have known about this stuff otherwise, and it made my existence there seem much less isolating. I'd encourage you to try something similar, maybe attending some local events that would attract the sort of people you'd hang out with, or looking for MeetUps.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:06 PM on March 14, 2013

May I suggest that you focus your attention inward for the next few months? This may be the last time for a long time in your life that you will have precious time alone. Cherish it! Take long naps, eat what you like for dinner, talk on the phone with your sister for hours, leave your pants on the floor in the kitchen, leave your dishes in the sink, read.
posted by kellygreen at 7:12 PM on March 14, 2013

Not making friends because you'll leave them in a year or two? A year sounds so short and easy, but that's four hundred lonely solitary days!

If you make friends: Either when you leave you'll cry and hug and cry at your farewell party and call each other to happily catch up every so often, or you'll have a few people you think fondly of on random moments in the future, or you won't stay in touch at all but you'll have had a nice time while you lived on your own. There is no negative in making friends.

I've heard the phrase "the days are long but the years are short" in the context of life being busy and hard but time flies by. But I think flipping it slightly is appropriate to you here. A year is not a ton of time and totally doable, but don't get there by rendering the individual days insignificant and meaningless.
posted by sestaaak at 8:59 PM on March 14, 2013

As someone who has moved around a lot, I encourage you to make friends while you are there. Really, a LOT can happy in one or two years. I'm not implying anything bad- just saying that in 1 or 2 years, you can meet amazing people and have wonderful experiences. Don't deprive yourself of that because you're afraid the experience will end too soon. The only thing we really have is the present.

Just smile and be friendly. You don't have to become best friends with everyone- maybe some people will just be acquaintances or activity partners. You also could make really good friends who you will keep in touch with and could go visit later.

I live in a place that is very transitional, and I've connected with people within short periods of time. Eventually, one of us moves on and it's a little sad, but it's great to have connected with so many; also, if I travel in the future, I have lots of people to see!
posted by bearette at 2:23 AM on March 15, 2013

« Older Online Sex Toys   |   Easy French or French-English Podcast... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.