When I was 17, I fell in love with Seattle.
The weather, the culture, the people — something about it just clicked with me. I decided it was my favorite city in the United States, and I told myself I would move there someday, when I’d earned it.
20 years later, I still haven’t lived in Seattle.
I still feel like I haven’t earned it.
But if you asked me what it would take to “earn” Seattle, I couldn’t tell you. I don’t know what that series of accomplishments looks like. But, like love, I always figured I’d know it when I felt it.
I mentioned this to a friend recently and she said it was odd that I’ve defined Seattle as a reward for myself without defining what results are necessary to earn that reward. It also makes the city seem like it must be perfect — and if it turns out to not be perfect once I move there, wouldn’t I be disappointed? If that happened, where would my next shining city be?
But I wonder if we all need a shining city that moves.
Why Our Goals Are Evidence of How We See Ourselves
Whether me moving to Seattle turned out to be wonderful or terrible, either way I’d still need to establish a new reward to aspire to once I was there. I would need a reason to keep evolving and changing and getting better at living my life, so I could feel like I had earned something else. Not necessarily a new city, but a new goal, a new way of thinking, a new way of seeing myself.
I don’t think it’s just about moving to Seattle. Moving to Seattle is easy. All it takes is money, time, and a way to get there.
I think that what I decided when I was 17 without realizing it is that I want to be the kind of person who lives in Seattle.
(Granted, I can’t really be the kind of person who lives in Seattle until I live there, but that’s almost beside the point.)
What I mean is, it isn’t just the physical accomplishment of living in Seattle, but the self-definition of being someone who lives there — and, therefore, of being the kind of person who became capable of living there — that matters.
To do that would mean I changed the things in my life that were necessary to make it happen.
I would need to make more money… and that means I would need a skill that others understand, see value in, and are willing to pay me for, and a strong network of people willing to help me and hire me.
I would need to physically relocate there… and that means I would need a car, and the time to get there… which means I would need reliable, time-shifted income from a career I could execute from anywhere and which would allow me to take a week off to move across the country, or a job that was willing to relocate me there.
I would need to be comfortable establishing myself anew in a city I have no natural ties to… and that would mean being adaptable to change, and being able to make new friends easily, and having the skills, the time, the usefulness, and the means to get involved in and enjoy the perks of my new city.
In other words, I would need to become the kind of person who’s capable of living the life he dreamed he would be capable of when he was 17.
So maybe it isn’t really about Seattle.
Maybe it’s about living my life like someone who accomplishes his dreams, instead of defers them.
Isn’t that what adulthood is all about?
Image: Downtown Seattle by Maryam via Flickr Creative Commons License
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