January 7, 2014

A 25 Year Lesson in the Making

This is a very long and personal story with a very simple conclusion of how I made peace with myself about living in my hometown for the rest of my life. I won't be heartbroken if this we where your reading ends.

Always living on a military installation, my family moved just about every 3 years from the time I was born until I was in 4th grade. My parents made sure that everywhere we went always felt like home. It was our way of life which I loved. I didn't know any different.
with my dad while he was stationed in Germany
Even though I was young I remember getting to experience so much from hula lessons in Hawaii to my first snow in Ohio. My dad made plans to retire from the military when I was in 6th grade and that is when we moved to where we've lived the longest--where I live now--in the suburbs of Southwest Ohio.

At first the idea that we would never move again was weird. I thought it strange that most of my friends were born in Ohio or that classmates had the same teachers their parents once had, but I learned to love our permanent roots. I got to grow up with elementary friends through high school and make close friends that I stayed with through college and some still to this day.
HS party my sister and I had
HS friends in college together
HS friends. college roommates. best friend to this day.
Though I loved my home, one thing became clear to me my senior year of college. I felt suffocated by the idea of moving back to the suburbs of my hometown to teach. The idea that I was going to graduate, move home, and settle into my teaching career for the rest of my life made me feel like I was giving up knowing the rest of the world. The idea of living in the same place for the rest of my life was not the future I pictured.

College will do that to you I think. I was dreaming big but also comparing my seemingly simple idea of teaching in the suburbs to friends who had plans to jet off and work in big cities like D.C and Chicago. After discovering these feelings, I was determined not to let the dreadful scenario happen to me and in my mind that meant giving up the 'burbs. 

I quickly looked into suburb-less options. I submitted applications for teaching in US military schools overseas. I researched and gathered every bit of information I could about joining the peace corps. I was determined not to live in my hometown ever again for fear of missing out on something bigger and better.

After completing student teaching and graduating in December, I stayed home. I continued to substitute teach in my school to make money. By the time summer came big thoughts of leaving were pushed to the side while bigger thoughts of impending student loans and scarce available teaching jobs filled my head. I needed a job and staying home to try and find one seemed like my best option. 
I worked at a YMCA day camp over the summer

The school year started and I was disappointed to be at home and jobless. Not the life after college I had previously pictured. Distorting that picture even more, Corey was offered a job in Florida and accepted. Teaching jobs were far and few between and it was a good break for him. I on the other hand felt directionless and lonely. 

About a month after Corey moved to Florida his principal had a teacher leave and having met me before asked if I was interested in the job. Things were looking up! God had answered my prayers--a teaching job not in my hometown and I got to be with Corey. Without much time to think about it I took one of the biggest leaps of faith in my life, packed up, and moved to Florida. 

Given a new state, new living arrangements, new job, being 1,065 miles --15 hours and 9 minutes away from my family, and a bit of culture shock all mixed together, you could say that adjusting was tough! I don't regret Florida for a second. I met great people and made good friends. I learned new things about being a teacher. I enjoyed a vacation in Orlando and trips to the beach whenever I wanted. Don't even get me started on that golden, year round sunshine--I miss that! Despite all of this Florida just wasn't for me and I moved back home to Ohio at the end of the school year.

Here's where that 25 year lesson started making sense to me. The most important thing I learned while living in Florida was that where I live doesn't matter. I didn't need some extravagant destination to call home.  I realized that whether in Florida, moving around the world every 3 years, or living in my hometown, life is what you make of it.

What a simple conclusion, huh?

But, that's what growing up is, right?

Making sense on your own of what other people have known all along? 

Before Florida I saw investing my future in the same place where I grew up as "stuck" or "unadventurous".  After, I realized I couldn't be more wrong! Since I started blogging and even more so since I started contributing posts to Dayton Local, I have been more adventurous right here in my hometown than I ever thought possible. There is so much here that I never would have experienced if I had kept the mentality of "never leaving your hometown is lame"

Exploring my hometown is an adventure and I have fun doing it. If that's what the rest of my life is then so be it. Settling down in one place for the rest of your life--your kids' lives doesn't mean you're tied to that zip code by ball and chain. 

As well as affordably being adventurous in my hometown I now smartly plan and save to have my chance at experiencing the rest of the world. I've even set up my first trip to Europe for this summer! To you this may seem like, well duh, but I guess it just took time for me to see that hometown life after college is anything but boring. If you choose to make it boring, it will be boring. If you choose to make it adventurous, it'll be just that. 

Making plans to see the world with your roots grounded in a town you've lived most of your life in can be just as adventurous as someone who lives their life jet setting around the world every month. I'm glad this 25 year lesson allowed me to shape my own expectations for my future and love whatever future plans God has for me.

I know there may be more people out there who feel discouraged about not being able to "get out of x, y, z hometown" Others may be thinking, "I can't believe it took her 25 years to learn this..."

My life is what I make it. And I've made plans to see the world starting right here in my hometown. I may not end up living here forever but even if I do it will be the best life I could ever ask for!

What are your thoughts:

Do you live in the same town you grew up in?

What lifestyle do you prefer, moving around or living in one place?


  1. Wonderful post Amanda. It took you less time to learn this lesson than many. Thank you for your contributions to Dayton Local, we love your work! I'm certain your positive attitude and adventurous spirit will continue to serve you well.

  2. I think it is really cool of you to share something so personal online. I personally just moved back to my hometown to go to graduate school, and I haven't regretted it yet!

    - Sam at That Curious Cat

  3. Amanda @ A Latte LearnJanuary 21, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    Thank you for your kind words! There really is such a great feeling that comes with being back in your hometown! :)

  4. Amanda @ A Latte LearnJanuary 21, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    Thank you Lisa! I love being part of the team and learning so much about this great city!



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