Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River

By Katie East

Psychologists consider moving as one of the most common traumatic events that happen in most people’s lives. Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, the process can have an effect on you. You’re forced to look at everything you own, prioritize your belongings and contemplate how your life will be changed.

Despite this, I think moving to another city is integral in the process of human growth. Staying in the same place for a lifetime is almost guaranteed to make someone stagnant.

Still, nearly 40 percent of adults in the United States have never moved away from their hometown. So who should stay and who should go?

I won’t lie; I have often judged friends or acquaintances for staying put and keeping their lives on hold by staying in Baton Rouge. Others, I realize it’s for the best and am happy for the way their life turned out.

Though a lot of progress has been made, no one would claim Baton Rouge has the best job market in the country. Many people’s careers can be put on hold if they refuse to move out of the state. I judge those people, especially when they sit and complain about the economy and never bother to research other cities.

If you have a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art or Theatre and complain your only option is to teach high school, I judge you. You’re an artist! See the world; experience it (at least before you have kids). Be poor and live, my friend. You can settle for colored pencil pointillism and short form improv games later. Test out the waters in New York, LA, London, Chicago or Austin first.

I have several friends who are less career-driven than me. Ok, so, “career” is a strong word. Nevertheless, I know some female friends who always wanted to start a family and to be a stay-at-home Mom. In those cases, I totally understand staying put.

Home is comfortable. If your main goal is to build a comfortable home, then you don’t really need to stray. If you’re yearning for something different, though, then you need to spread your wings. Or teach Zumba.

There can be a stigma that can be attached to moving. There is a natural reaction some friends and family members have: “You think you’re better than here?”

The answer is no. And also yes. Do I think I deserve more than knowing one city? Yes. Do I think you’re a lesser person for settling in one place? No. We just have different needs.

Staying in a city too long can make you end up hating it. You forget the things that made you love the city in the first place and just focus on the things that have been annoying you for years. It’s like a marriage that has lost its luster. This has happened a couple times between me and my old ball and chain Baton Rouge.

I always hoped to go out of state for college. A relationship and TOPS kept me in town for four more years. In the long run, I was happy at LSU. At 21, though, I was beyond ready to see somewhere new.

I had a plan to move to New York City with a friend. She even graduated early so we could head out and find a place together. After a month stop over in Chicago, my friend knew she had to stay. Damn you, Theatre degrees!

I was on my own. To this day, I really downplay the fact that I packed up and moved by myself to New York City to live with strangers in a basement apartment I had never seen. It was less scary than staying in Baton Rouge forever.

This one quote by Anais Nin describes my feelings best: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Some people can grow in these humid Louisiana conditions. Others though, will never bloom until they reach their perfect climate. After college, I needed to head north and try the colder weather.

I’m not saying the grass is always greener on the other side. In my first couple of months in New York I experienced a rare Spring Nor’easter, almost drowned, and dealt with three floods in my apartment while my Scientologist roommate gave birth to twins three months early.

I was homeless but at least I wasn’t still home. And damn did it make me miss those things I loved about Baton Rouge.

 

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