Seattle is still figuring out who exactly it’s going to be when it grows up. Which is funny, because when I showed up here for the first time 3 years ago, I thought I knew exactly who I was already, and Seattle didn’t fit in to my life plan even a little bit. Of course, I’m still here, which means I quickly found out that Seattle and I have a lot more in common than I originally thought.
It’s fitting that the biggest transition of my life (from childhood to full-fledged adulthood) is happening in a city in a seemingly constant state of transition as well. I find that Seattle’s energy very much reflects the frenetic efforts of scores of brilliant, talented, diverse people, just trying to find their way. Every inch of this city screams with motion. From the deadlocked traffic and the never-ending arrivals and departures from our airports and seaports, to the way neighborhoods change overnight as new construction goes up and the old is torn away. Everything and everyONE is constantly moving, partially I think out of fear of what would happen if we ever just... stopped.
The home I left, the only one I’ve ever known, had no problem with standing still. I was raised in the quiet and calm of wide open spaces, and I grew up in dense muggy summers and brutal cold winters that made it impossible to even consider doing anything in a hurry. I developed a deep appreciation for simplicity, a heartfelt love of family, and a devotion to the values I was raised on. And I won’t lie, a big part of me was fulfilled by the simple pleasures of small town life. Content enough to have lived my days driving the same familiar streets, seeing the same faces I’d known since childhood. But like many people who now call Seattle home, I looked around one day and recognized that what my beloved little hometown had in heart, it was lacking in opportunity. I had an ambition, a drive, to do something that mattered. I felt compelled to move forward, even if it meant leaving everything behind. And before I even fully knew what was happening a rare opportunity came my way, and changed my entire life.
And now here I am, just like you are. It is both comforting and intimidating to know that everyone else, even the city itself, feels the same, inexplicable urgency - the urgency to move, to advance, to excel, to achieve, to grow - that brought me here in the first place. On one hand, I know I will always find kindred spirits who understand my journey, but on the other, if I indulge my desire to settle down or get comfortable, I can’t help but feel at risk of being left behind entirely.
So how do I reconcile the sleepy small town heart inside of me with the hustle and bustle of a city that can’t slow down? How do I make peace with my desire to put down roots and my fear of underachieving? To tell you the truth, I don’t know. I’m no closer to figuring it out than I was the day I stepped off the plane. But somehow, despite my best efforts to leave my whole heart in the Midwest, somehow during the past few years of trial and error, learning and growth, triumph and heartache, Seattle became home too. So, I guess we’ll figure out who we want to be when we grow up, together.
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