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11 Realizations That Defined You Leaving Your Hometown

11 Realizations That Defined You Leaving Your Hometown

Leaving home was something every teenager yearned for, and every 20-something looks back on as a defining time in their lives. Overwhelmed with a wide range of emotion, this is pretty much what you came to realize throughout the process of life after hometown.

1. You can go somewhere without everyone knowing you.

Growing up, your family was involved in the community or neighborhood or some friend group. You knew this because you couldn’t go anywhere without running into someone who recognized you, at which point you had to conjure up your best no-I-swear-I’m-actually-happy-to-see-you face. After leaving your hometown, you had this strange feeling whenever you went out. Eventually you realized that strange sensation was feeling relaxed because you no longer had to worry about who you would run into at the restaurant.

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2. You had the power to recreate your identity.

No longer did you have to deal with people referencing everything about your life, from the time your mother was pregnant to when you accidentally spilled beer all over Sarah Marshall’s hair at the prom after-party (hosted by the “cool parents”). If you wanted to be the mysteriously quiet intellect, you could. If you wanted to be everyone’s favorite bro, you had the power to make that happen.

3. You were no longer associated with your sibling(s).

Rather than waking up to feelings of inadequacy because everyone expected you to be like them, you could now do your thing. So what if big sis was awesome at violin – you hated violin! This meant you could explore your own passions without pressure to live up to family’s expectations of what you should be doing.

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4. You had no idea where you were going.

It kind of sucked at first, when you arrived in your new city that you would’ve thought was awesome if you could actually find anything in that town. And since you probably didn’t have a GPS back then, and certainly weren’t using Google Maps, you basically spent the majority of your free time driving around aimlessly trying to figure out where the heck the nearest coffee shop was.

5. Your past didn’t matter anymore.

At last, at last! Thank God, you were free at last! No more avoiding Michelle because she knows what you did last summer. Forget all the mistakes you made going through puberty. Let’s face it, there’s a large part of your growing up that you always wanted to forget. And leaving your hometown meant leaving all those painful memories behind.

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6. You get new first impressions with everyone.

It’s cool that you didn’t have to worry about running into people you somewhat disliked everyone you went, but now you had to meet new people. Which means you still had to go through that whole I’m-smiling-because-I’m-supposed-to thing. Except at this point the stakes were even higher, because if you didn’t make a good first impression, who were you going to hang out with? Who were you going to date? Who were you going to go with to the mall or semi-formal? Which can lead to our next point.

7. You felt kind of lonely.

You took a massive dose of culture shock going from knowing everyone to no one, and that left you feeling a bit down in the dumps. Even though you were ready to leave home, you were comfortable in your hometown. You knew the people, the places, the back roads, which restaurants had the best deals on which nights. Now you just… you… well, you did nothing, because you didn’t know many people yet, if any, and you felt way to awkward scavenging your new terrain by yourself. But it did give you plenty of time to think.

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8. Your future is now however you wanted to define it.

You felt incredibly refreshed by the idea that you could do whatever the front door you wanted, and nobody could tell you otherwise. But then that freedom became overwhelming. What were you going to do? How is a teenager supposed to figure out what they’re going to do for the next sixty years? Friends and advisors didn’t help you with this debacle, and the only one that seemed to understand you was your pillow. And chocolate.

9. You realized you actually did need your parents’ help.

Sure, mom and pop were intrusive, annoying, infuriating, demanding, and every other negative adjective your angst-ridden self could muster. But after leaving your hometown you came to realize that hey, maybe they did know a thing or two about this crazy, messed up existence we call life. You started talking to them again, asking them for advice, and after several years of being in a new place you finally admitted there was no way you could’ve made it without them.

10. You got punched in the face by the outside world.

You did more growing up in your first year away from home than you did the rest of your life up until that point. But even though you learned a ton, it wasn’t necessarily the most joyous experience. You realized the world, despite the magnificence it holds, is basically the corporeal version of a menopausal psycho’s mind. Eventually you came to embrace and thrive in the world that terrorized you.

11. You actually kind of do like your hometown.

You came to grips with the fact that you wanted to go back and visit your hometown. You wanted to see your old favorite spots, and see how your old friends had changed, and enjoy your mom’s fantastic home-cooked meals that you didn’t realize were so freaking good until you spent the last week of every month eating cheap noodles and frozen pizzas. You realized you love the nostalgia that comes with your old stomping grounds. And most importantly you realized that your hometown really was a pretty great place to grow up.

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Kenneth Burke

Director of Marketing

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Last Updated on May 28, 2020

10 Success Principles for Living Your Dream Life

10 Success Principles for Living Your Dream Life

Are you stressed out and overwhelmed, wishing you had more time to do the things that really matter? Are you ready to do something better, something special in your life or your career?

You were born with a gift that no one else in the world can express like you. When you dance to your own music, you naturally develop your innate abilities and excel in work and life. You are a total rock star. But when you live someone else’s idea of who you should be, it throws off your groove.

Many people—maybe you—stopped following their dreams way too early in life because their talents were ignored, minimized, or shamed. They didn’t have the chops to win an American Idol competition or nab an Olympic gold medal, so they stopped expressing their inborn gifts altogether.

You don’t need to be an award winner to rock your life. Living your dream life is about discovering your superpowers and feeling vibrant and joyful when you use them. It’s about owning what makes you unique and finding like-minded people to support you.

Here are 10 success principles to help you live a rich and rewarding life on your terms that have worked with thousands of people in my workshops and will work for you, too.

1. Get a Hobby to Move Closer to Your Dreams

If you never became a professional dancer or a world-renowned author, it does NOT mean you should stop dancing or writing! These activities make you come alive, even if you “only” do them as favorite pastimes.

Engaging in a hobby is one of the most important success principles you can follow to move closer to your dreams.

When you try something creative for the first time or in a long while, you begin to see opportunities at work and in life that you were unaware of before. You also feel happier and more energized, according to a recent study from New Zealand.[1]

Some of my most burned-out executive clients reinvigorated their careers by discovering a creative outlet that refueled them after the workday ended. Research at San Francisco State University shows that having a hobby lowers stress and helps you succeed at work.[2]

So, give yourself permission to try new things and revisit old passions you gave up long ago. Setting aside just one hour a week for personal exploration can significantly change your life.

Who knows? Your creative outlet could transform into a thriving business or lead to a new profession down the road.

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2. Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

Did you know that you are more likely to succeed when you develop your natural strengths rather than work on your weaknesses? The problem is that you probably don’t know where your true talents lie.

Here are a few options to help you discover your unique strengths. You can:

  • Take the VIA Character Strengths Survey[3]
  • Try Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment[4]
  • Answer a few Superpower Questions

Once you understand what makes you tick, you can use these skills at work and your personal life to get more done in less time. If you boost your unique abilities through practice and study, you can accelerate your career and become a leader in a field that matters to you. It’s worth investing in yourself this way.

3. Jumping off a Cliff is NOT Required

Here’s the deal: most people are too afraid to change. When participants first come to my workshops, they tell me they have mouths to feed, bills to pay, and fear that if they follow their dreams, someone will get hurt.

The old saying “leap and the net shall appear” does not comfort them. Because they are hesitant to plunge into the unknown, they believe their only option is to stay put where they are in life. Can you relate?

You do not have to sacrifice the life you have now to start a new one. I was a psychology professor by day and singer by night for years before I transitioned into a full-time music career.

Just take a little time out each week to do what enlivens you through a hobby, volunteer work, etc. Get a feel for it.

Is it what you really want? If so, increase the time you spend doing it and make the transition when the time feels right.

4. Give Your Inner Critic Some Love

The main culprit that keeps you from stepping outside your comfort zone and getting the life of your dreams is KCRP or K-CRAP – the radio station that plays 24/7 in your head. The moment you try to do something interesting with your life it slaps you down with such chart-topping killer hooks as “Who do you think you are?” and “You’ll never be good enough!”.

Have you ever noticed that KCRP’s mean-spirited DJ sounds like your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures who shut you down creatively? These folks don’t need to stifle you any longer (although they often still do) because your inner critic does it for them. That keeps you stuck in a rut.

To break free, try thinking of this DJ as a gruff old grandfather who gives you crap to keep you safe. Remember, this grumpy grandpa is woefully out of touch with the times. So, his stern opinions don’t really matter much, do they? Give him a pat on the back for his good intentions, and put your focus back on what makes you come alive.

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This success principle will give you the courage to venture into the unknown where you can dance to the beat of your own drummer.

5. Embrace Your Inner Weirdo

Many of us don’t go after our dreams because we’re afraid folks will find out how odd or strange we are. But our little eccentricities often turn out to be our greatest strengths. Yes, it’s good to be quirky.

Odds are, you lost track of your true passions and talents before you were even old enough to know you were getting off-track. You became slowly “adulterated” by learning to:

  • Take on family roles that don’t match who you really are.
  • Spit back what teachers taught you in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original.
  • Hide parts of yourself that don’t seem acceptable to certain social groups.

The price for fitting in is that you may wind up leading a life that doesn’t fit you all that well. Your true calling becomes clear when you embrace what makes you different from others and allow yourself to stand out from the crowd, even if it feels awkward.

Often, the very qualities you view as your flaws are your greatest gifts.

6. See the Bigger Picture to Find Your True Calling

I cannot stress the importance of this success principle enough. Your true calling is right in front of you. But you may miss it because you’re looking for it in the wrong place.

To “see” it clearly, try widening your point of view.

Case in point: Maria felt she needed to retire early from being a police detective, so she could travel abroad. I encouraged Maria to think of ways that she could continue to serve as a law enforcer (a career she loved) and travel overseas at the same time.

A few months later, Maria landed a job with the United Nations in Bosnia training the local police force to understand and embrace human rights procedures.

Like Maria, you are an everyday rock star capable of accomplishing greater things than you can imagine. Is what you’re looking for right in front of you, too? Do you have an inkling of what it may be?

Look beyond your day-to-day activities, your current job, and even the town you live in. View your life from an eagle’s perspective and be open to new possibilities.

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7. Try a Little Wish-List Magic

Pretend I’m your fairy godmother and I give you permission right now to be your most magnificent self. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy. Write it down on a wish list.

Get quiet. Be honest. Think big.

What would you like your career, your relationships, your health, your finances, and your spiritual life to be like? Jot down enough details so that your wishes seem tangible to you. Then, look at this list every morning before you start your day and every night before you go to sleep.

Sounds silly? It’s not. It works! Permitting yourself to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to manifesting it.

8. Take Breaks to Get Clues About Your Ideal Future

Did you know that working straight through to a deadline leads to diminishing returns? Research shows that taking a break for 15 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes can help you recharge, refresh your focus, and get more done in less time.[5]

Wait, it gets better! A Stanford study shows that walking increases your creative output increases by 60 percent. Doing repetitive activities such as walking, running, riding your bike, swimming, and sweeping allow solutions to problems to pop into your mind out of nowhere.[6]

What does this success principle have to do with creating your dream life?

These mini-breaks allow you to get vital clues for what to do next to attain your ideal future. Plus, you won’t waste precious time and energy getting lost in other people’s agendas.

9. Take Action on Your Inspired Ideas

Once an inspired thought pops into your mind, take action.

This is one of the most powerful success principles for turning your dreams into reality; the sooner the better. Whatever it is—from calling an old friend to taking a new route home—be sure to do it!

Pay attention to your oddball hunches. You need to go after what you want, not just dream about it. As comedian Jim Carrey warns,

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“You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”

10. Count Your Rockstar Moments

Still not sure you have what it takes to get your dream life? This final success principle is guaranteed to help.

Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished. As you read back through it, put a star next to each item, and let it sink in.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good you’ll feel about yourself afterward. You’ll also see how effective you’ve been in the past at getting what you want. You’ve succeeded before, you can succeed again.

You already rock. You just need to own it. Trust me, you’ve got this!

Final Thoughts

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Following these success principles will help you find the time and energy to do the things that really matter and live with clear intention.

By spending just one hour a week doing something you love, focusing on your strengths and achievements, embracing what makes you different, and acting on inspired ideas, you can create a life that is a perfect fit for you, step-by-step.

If you don’t have a clue about what your dream life could look like yet, don’t worry. Your heart knows. It has been “talking” to you for a long time. It’s just being muffled by KCRP, buried under a lot of “shoulds” and fear.

This article can also help you figure out the life you truly want to live: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up.

Stand still, get quiet, and listen. It’s constantly telling you what you need to do to realize your own rockstar potential. It may be just a whisper now, but the more you pay attention to it, the louder it will get, and the easier it will be to follow.

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Featured photo credit: Rahul Dey via unsplash.com

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