by Penelope Trunk
People think stability is boring, but in fact, it’s instability that is boring. No great art was made by a person who can’t pay rent. If you can’t pay rent, you think about that constantly, to the point that it’s impossible to consider the perfect word or the perfect shade of blue.
The other problem with instability is that you end up without a support system. No one ever fulfilled their dreams for themselves without help from other people. And people cannot help you if you are flailing and out of control. So stability enables you to put together a team to help you meet your goals.
This is why I always try to stay where I am to solve my problems rather than move away. It’s ironic that this stay-where-you-are advice is coming from me, because I moved every year from age 18 to age 30. I’ve lived in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, New York and Madison, Wisconsin. And now I live on a farm. The best thing about marrying a farmer is that I know I can’t move. Well, he can’t move. So if I’m with him, I’m in one place, for the rest of my life. I love that.
Staying in one place forces you to think about what you can do to make your place great. I’ve spent a lot of years trying to figure out where I belong. What is the perfect city for me. And what I learned is that I make the same type of friend in each city. I live in the same type of area in each city. The city does not change my core needs, and no city is so myopic that there are not people who can fill my needs. Sure, there are probably more people like me in New York City than in Madison, Wisconsin. But honestly, I don’t need one million friends. I only need 10. Tops.
My point here is that you can make any city work for you. So stop looking to move; you just create more problems for yourself. Solve your problems right here, now, with the tools you have. Surround yourself with opportunities to meet people who can fill the void you find in the place you live. Every city has voids. The odds are that you can fill that void without moving. Really.
The best part of this process—finding people to make your city work better for you—is that you train yourself to look inside yourself to solve your problems instead of blaming external things like your job, your income, your location, etc. Take things into your own hands. You don’t need to change your city; just change your experience of your city to make your city the city of your dreams.