There's No Place Like Home: Why Roots Are Important For Growth


If you're a Millennial, starting over is what you need to do — or so I hear. Staying is settling.

You have to go away for school. You must embrace the new. The moment you feel your roots penetrate the earth, you better shake it off and keep going. Where are you going? It doesn't matter. Just go.

I was a mover, too, and I didn't stop. I had to go away for college, and that was just the beginning. Each year was a new dorm, a new club and new friends.

Shortly after graduating, I discarded those unnecessary memories in search of new ones.

Nearly overnight, I changed my identity from that of a student to a backpacker for my new life in Nicaragua. The mover lifestyle never abated; following Nicaragua, I created another life in a new state for graduate school.

My life was much like Newton's First Law. I was an object in motion and I stayed in motion. Why did I keep moving?

Because moving was progression, staying was limiting myself. At 18, I wrestled myself free and when I took my first flight, I vowed I would never return.

But, I was wrong. I thought staying home was for wimps and after living life as a nomad, I realized it's the nomad that's the biggest wimp of them all.

To live life as a nomad is to deny yourself roots. If left alone, roots grow into the earth and proliferate madly.

Your roots are strong, you are strong and your relationships strong if you allow this process to transpire.

While we may relish in new experiences, we all need a home. If you do not have a place to rest and recuperate from this busy world in which we live, you will never feel safe.

If you don't have a home, your wings that were once beautiful and formidable will dry up like the hot dust of a desert storm, just like mine did.

To explore is glorious, but it also has a beginning and an end. I was in Miami when LeBron James made his decision to return home to Cleveland.

People were astonished, and rightly so. I mean, the man literally could have done anything with his unlimited money and gone anywhere in the world, but he returned home.

It's human nature to desire home, community and comfort, therefore it is unnatural to deny yourself these things.

Yet, we still do it. It's human nature to circle back. Here are five reasons its sometimes best to go home:

1. Staying is not settling.

We seem to think that moving is good and staying is bad, like one is the converse of the other.

But, staying and settling aren't the opposites we make them out to be.

They are lifestyles — choices we make and just like anything in life. You never get something for nothing.

Sure, I was great at conquering the new, but it really came at a terrible price. I couldn't relax. My guard was up because my life was in perpetual motion.

That's something you learn quickly when you're on your own. Protect, protect, protect yourself. Protect your money, your information and your sanity. In my sleep, I'm still ready to karate chop.

The movers are easy to spot. Yeah, it's that smug self-righteous, "I know more than you," attitude people like to hold claim to.

I've also met plenty of stayers, and I'll refer to this one as Unicorn because her life was that unbelievable to me:

Not only did she stay home for college and keep in touch with her childhood friends, but get this: She married her middle school sweetheart.

She might have been jealous of my travels, but it was me who was envious of her life. You can buy a trip to South America. You can't buy lifelong friendships. 

2. You decide when to return.

This choice to return is really personal and varies from person to person. Some people never return while others never leave. Again, it's a choice.

LeBron James wrote in his Sports Illustrated essay,

If LeBron James can return home given infinite options, then you can, too.

3. On the run.

"I don't have to deal with these people ever again." Do you know how many times I've told myself that?

That's what tends to happen when life becomes on the run — everyone is an adversary. You don't let anybody in.

Life quickly becomes unsustainable because you can't live your whole life emotionally banking on your next move, thinking then, you'll be "free."

Life on the run is anonymous and lonely. The relationships you create are transient and superficial, as opposed to the kind of relationships you want and deserve, which are real and meaningful.

This wasn't a fresh start anymore; this was me, and I was on the run.

If you miss home, go home; it's as simple as that. Wanting a home is as natural an instinct as sleeping and eating. You wouldn't deny yourself food. You want home and need home, so listen to yourself and go home.

4. You get what you train for

You read about how wonderful and advantageous it is to leave, spread your wings and fly, as though staying in your community doesn't have its advantages. Well, it does.

Let's go back to Unicorn. Hearing her story — the details and the tone in her voice — I was assuaged by the enormous sense of trust and community she had in her life.

It impacted her life in a way I saw was lacking in mine. Believe me, a fresh start is not all it's cracked up to be. I'm not conquering the world, I'm just really good at packing up my car for my next move. I'm built for moving, not staying. You get what you train for.

5. It's not all about starting over

The sooner you surround yourself with those wonderful, permanent people in your life, the better.

After nearly a decade as a nomad, it's the familiar that I appreciate most.

My sidewalk, my bed, my neighborhood. When you leave for as long as I did, you see your home as though you're seeing for the first time.

After all, mystery isn't about traveling to new places; it's about looking with new eyes.

It didn't take moving away for me to think this way. It took staying, and I'm home.