Why You’re NOT Selfish for Moving Away

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Moving away from your loved ones to blaze your own path can feel like the most selfish thing in the world. Not getting to see my nephew grow up has been especially hard for me. I tear up often thinking of how much I’ve missed out on since I moved away four years ago – especially around his birthday. I’ve wondered if my desire – my need – to leave my home town for a place of my own makes me a selfish jerk. But, what I’ve come to realize – and what I have to tell myself at times – is that it is quite the opposite. If you struggle with this too, or maybe you are considering never leaving because the guilt would be too much, here are three reasons why you are not selfish for moving away:

There is nothing wrong with wanting MORE joy.

“Why can’t you just be happy with what you have, you are so blessed.” Maybe you’ve told yourself this too – or someone else has. But, what I’ve come to understand, is that seeking joy is not something to feel guilty about, even if you already have a whole lot of it. And if something that makes someone else happy makes you miserable, that doesn’t mean either of you are wrong. You just find your joy in different places.

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There is something to be said for finding joy where you are, no one likes a Negative Nancy. But seeking out places that light up your soul is nothing to be ashamed of.

Why I Moved Away

I don’t remember a time that I ever loved living in my home town in Florida. Sure I had good memories – a ton of them. But, never because it was an awesome place to live. I was never a beach person (not that type of beach at least). And the bar scene (the main source of fun in that city for adults) wasn’t for me.

Nothing ever stood out to me as worth sticking around for. Not to mention, the too-hot weather in the summer and too-cold (surprising, I know) month of winter that didn’t even bother to produce snow. I don’t like to use this word, but I hated it.

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However, the mountains… the mountains brought me joy. And still do. Being near them puts me at ease and hiking in them is my favorite thing in the whole world. When my husband, Buddy, and I first visited Colorado we fell in love with the weather, activities and people. We finally felt like we were where we belonged. And it is an amazing feeling that I still cherish, even after four years of living here.

But the reality is, I will probably always want more from life. I love my home now. But there are so many other places I want to experience and things I want to try. I think God has a whole lot of joy he wants to send my way and I want to be available to soak up every second of it – instead of hiding out, feeling guilty for wanting to devour it.

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You miss them because you love them, that’s not a bad thing.

I lived in the same town for 22 years before I moved. Everyone I loved dearest was in that town (or a few hours away). And most of us had never traveled too far from home. So, putting it in my rear-view mirror felt a lot like saying bye to all of those dear to me (except my hubby, of course). But it is only goodbye to the ones who weren’t REALLY in your life anyway.

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Would I cry over missing my nephew’s birthday if I didn’t love him with all my heart? Would I worry I won’t be there when my best friend one day picks out her wedding gown, if she wasn’t important to me? And would I call my mom all the dang time if I didn’t love her a whole lot? Nope. I wouldn’t.

And would my nephew leave me voicemails and send letters saying how much he misses me if he hated my guts? No. Would my family and friends make an effort to come see me when I’m in town, or visit me in Colorado, if I wasn’t important to them? Well, maybe they’d do it for the free Colorado vacay, but you get the point.

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How Space Changes Relationships

And, believe me, absence does make the heart grow founder. My best friend of 20 years and I barely hung out or talked when I moved. We were just busy with other things, but now we talk weekly if not more. And when we see each other we have THE BEST time! It took being a thousand miles apart to realize how blessed we were to have each other.

We miss our people because we love them dearly. And that is not a bad thing – don’t let it be. Cry the tears. But don’t feel guilty. You are not a bad person for loving them so much.

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Striving to be a better person is a good thing.

When my nephew was born I swore to myself that I would be a big part of his life. I would be someone he could always rely on. And I would make sure he knew how much I loved him. Even with the distance, I’ve worked hard to keep that promise. And I try to see him at least once a year, if not more.

JaxZooOffering More to the Ones You Love

And, while wanting to be a reliable form of support for your loved ones is a great goal, what if you could offer even more? What if by finding out who you are, following your dreams and making the most of your life, you could inspire the people you love to do the same? What if you were not only someone your friends and family could rely on, but someone they respected and admired?

I didn’t want my nephew to think of me as his grumpy aunt who argued with her husband all the time, was overweight and drank too much. That was the life I saw ahead of me in Florida. Staying in that town I grew up in was suffocating my dreams and sense of adventure. And I knew it as it was happening.

I was angry that I was still there, unmotivated to make the most of each day and pretty sure Buddy and I were on a path to one day kill each other out of sheer boredom. Never underestimate the dangers of boredom.

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Leading by Example

But now I like who I am. I’m still a work in progress. But I’m someone my nephew can be proud to call his Auntie. And his Uncle Buddy has grown into a pretty awesome guy too!

On a recent trip to visit my favorite kiddo, we were playing tag and he said “Even though you climb mountains, I’m still faster than you.” I’m the Aunt who climbs mountains. I’m the Aunt that sends him postcards from awesome places he’s never seen. I’m the one who has goals and dreams I’m not afraid to reach for, who has the type of marriage I only pray he can have one day – filled with adventures and so much laughter.

I wish with all my heart I could have become this person without having to miss out on so much of his life. But I honestly don’t think I could have grown this much without forging my own path. And my marriage probably wouldn’t be this strong if we hadn’t taken off on our own to make a life we love.

Luckily, most of our family and friends totally support our crazy dreams. But for an eight-year-old, these ideas are a bit too deep to grasp. I just hope one day my nephew gets it. And before then, I’ll keep sharing my adventures with him and making the most of the time we do have together. After all, the best part about finding joy, is sharing it.

NephewTime

Moving away from your hometown, family and friends can lead to lots of guilt. But you\'re not selfish for moving away, it\'s quite the opposite, and here are 3 reasons why.#moving #nomad #movingaway #guilt #family

18 COMMENTS

  1. I know you’ve touched the hearts and inspired the souls of many of us. Keep up the adventures. I hope many more searching spirits will find you.

  2. Thank you for writing this. It made me feel so much better after reading it. I’m home in Colorado where I grew up and was feeling a bit guilty about my move to Madrid. I’m glad you live Colorado it will always have a big place in my heart, but Madrid is what inspires me. I have leaved there for 2 years and I love it and I can’t imagine leaving. The guilt kills you sometimes though so it was great to read your words of encouragement. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Lindsey. So glad my words offered some encouragement. Finding a place that inspires you shouldn’t be something to feel guilty about. We actually realized two years ago that we weren’t aligned with what we wanted anymore in Colorado and have been trying out nomadic life. It is fun to find places we may want to settle down in the future – Spain is high on the list! But, we are even further away and harder to contact now, so glad we are used to managing the guilt by now. 😉 And we’ve even found we are inspiring our loved ones to chase their dreams, which is awesome. Hope you continue to chase yours!

  3. Good for you guys! Completely jealous! We are in this situation right now. Hubby is wanting to move within a 2 hour radius from our hometown (NW Indiana ????), so we will still be close for parents/grandparents/grown kids. I want out of state entirely and of course I am nervous, but never wanted to stay (only did for kids). After almost 19 years of marriage, let’s go! He is nervous and scared, how do you help that?

    • Hi Amy, In complete honesty, we are fear motivated in the other direction. The idea of being stuck has always freaked me out. I knew I wanted out of my hometown since I was little and told everyone those plans from an early age. And funny enough, people were still surprised we actually went through with it! The missing our people part didn’t really set in until about a year after our move, because we were SO DANG EXCITED to be chasing our dreams. I don’t think we even really cried when we left. But, now I cry every time I leave after a visit and a few times in between. But, that’s okay. I think the move really made us appreciate our people even more and vice versa, as I noted in this article. But, with divorced parents on each side and being very independent at young ages, our life has always been more centered on our marriage than our families, so that has probably made it much easier for us to leave than people more embedded in family life. Buddy (my husband) and I talk often about how lucky we are that we have always been on the same page with our dreams. But looking back, it took us a while to get there on a few occasions. I wrote this article a few years back, and we’ve actually since left Colorado and realized we feel most at home moving to different places often (after trying RVing and it not being for us, we pet/housesit full-time now and love it). But, there was about a year where I really wanted to hit the road and he just didn’t think we needed a change. After a BIG fight, I made myself stop pushing so hard for it because it just wasn’t worth hurting our marriage over and I knew forcing it wouldn’t end well. We agreed to compromise and go on more trips to help my desire to go, but I prayed daily for him to change his heart on staying put. Eventually, we both agreed his job was a big problem in our marriage and he needed to quit, so needing to find a less expensive lifestyle pushed us down the path that led to our current lifestyle (I wrote more about this here). Every situation is different, but my best idea for you would be to address the fears in a calm and understanding way. If your husband wants a move too and is just worried, then this would really help get things rolling! Make a plan of how you would get back in case of an emergency and budget to visit every few months (we get Southwest cards to rack up points every year to help with visiting when in the U.S. –more on that here). Then look into places you would want to move and see what is even feasible. Not sure what your work situation is, but if you are retired or work online, I’d highly recommend housesitting as a way to test out life in new places. Maybe spending a few weeks or more in one of the places you are interested in could help you both get motivated to make it happen and help you plan for the move better. (We answer some top questions we get about pet/housesitting in this article: https://trailingaway.com/questions-about-housesitting/.) Also, you can always move back! Maybe agree to just try it for one whole year – you could always rent your home and rent something where you want to live to not be stuck. It may take some time, but getting on the same page before going for the big move will make it so much more enjoyable for you both. Just be creative and brainstorm ways to make it work that you both would enjoy. 🙂 Best of luck to you, Amy!

  4. Wow! I want to thank you for this read. I am struggling so much right now with the guilt of being away from my family. I have lives away from my hometown for 8 years now but recently my father hasn’t been doing well. I have thought about moving back to be there. My parents have told they don’t want that unless it is what I want. I love my job and I am happy with where I live. Only thing in my hometown is my parents. Reading this has helped. Thank you.

  5. Hi Brook,
    Thanks for sharing your journey to making you happy. My husband and embarked a journey to move to a place that makes us happy. After planning for 2 years we finally made the move. Sixteen months ago we left my hometown in Pennsylvania of 46 years. I lived there my whole life and raised 3 children. The oldest, my daughter Ashley, 25 now, moved to Florida 3 years ago to embark on her dream. My for 25 years had been my children and I wanted to do something for me. When we decided to move we were leaving behind my son who was 21 and my stepson who was 20 at the time. They were both in college and could stay with their other parent when not away school. I was excited we had arranged for the boys to move all their belongs to the other parents house and my husband and I move to a place we longed to be, Arizona!! We sold our house and my husband couch surfed for 10 months until he could retire. I got our new house set up and went to school to my Real Estate License during the 9 months I was by myself. As liberating as it felt at the time I was saddened for leaving my boys behind. I thought as time went on and my husband retired and moved out to Arizona with me would make me feel better. Here I am 16 months later and some days the guilt is unbearable and I want to move back home. Reading your article made me realize I should not feel guilty but need to embrace and enjoy everyday I am here. Who knows how long we will stay here, but I need to enjoy this beautiful place I call home and shouldn’t feel guilty for that. Not going to lie…the guilt is hard to get past, but I am trying my best everyday.

    • Thanks so much for your note, Lynnette! I hope you are able to move past the guilt and enjoy the life you fought so hard for. Recently, someone pointed out to me that my honesty with my loved ones about chasing my dreams may be the example they need to one day do the same… especially my beloved nephew who I mentioned in this article. So, maybe one day, your kids will be motivated by your bravery to go for it! Seems like that may have already happened with your daughter. 🙂 Just from what you’ve shared, it is obvious you love your family. But you can 100% love them while also loving this new life. So, please please embrace it. Best of luck!

  6. Brooke,
    My husband and I moved to Oregon to years ago from Florida . Lately we’ve been asking ourselves did we make a mistake? Are we bad people for leaving our family ? What about the good times are we missing ? Should we go back ? This has created guilt in my heart but at the same time we were not happy there and I’m extremely happy in Oregon. I too have found where I belong and I want to exist in a world where I can have both the pride of my home and not loose who I love in Florida.

    You’re beautiful article has put into words how we have felt and brought tears to my eyes and healing to my heart. In this life we can have it all!

    • Hi Jennifer, Thank you so much for your comment. It made my day to know I was able to help you heal and move forward with excitement on this part of your journey. We REALLY can have it all! Love that! 🙂 Brooke

  7. Hi brooke. What advice would you have for a me. I’m in my mid 30’s stuck living with my toxic mother. I live in New Orleans my whole life but no matter how much I try I cannot get ahead here. Recently I got into a relationship with someone I’ve been knowing my whole life but she lives in kentucky. She has her own home and a great career. I have a 7 year old daughter who iam close to and I see a few times a week. Would it be selfish of me to want to move to kentucky and to try and start a new a better life there? I’m very torn right now because I feel wrong for feeling this way. Any advice would be huge.

    • Hi Frank, thanks for the note. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have any specific advice other than to make sure you aren’t making any decisions you would regret down the road. I know a parent’s relationship with their child is very special and should be prioritized, but it is also important to pursue the best version of yourself for your own happiness. I would just caution leaving to pursue a different life only to regret not having the relationship you want with your daughter anymore. In the last couple of years, we’ve learned that life is really about perspective. The idea of going somewhere new sounds like such a dream because it is exciting and fun, but if you can find a way to shift your perspective where you are currently at and find some things you can be excited for there (where you don’t have to feel bad for leaving your daughter), that would be the best of both worlds! Best of luck and prayers for you to figure something out! 🙂

  8. We are currently in the process of moving to Maine and I felt your article very helpful. It’s hard…like a rollercoaster of emotions. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has ever done this! Thanks for your words ❤️

  9. Thanks for sharing your story. I moved away from my family on the east cost to attend college in the Midwest. I come from a tight-knit, traditional family who doesn’t necessarily understand why I attend school so far from home. As I inch closer to graduation I’m heavily considering staying out here in the Midwest and starting my life here. My family won’t be pleased with this but your story inspired me to do what’s best for me, and relieved a lot of guilt I have had about it. Thank you for that!

    • So glad our story helped, Danny! The good news is, you could always go back, but I think it gets harder to leave the longer you stay. But, if you do decide to go back one day after seeking your own path, at least it will be because you genuinely missed it and not just out of guilt. Funny enough, that nephew we miss so much is coming to visit us for a week this summer and it feels wonderful to be able to share our path with him. I think things have a way of working themselves out. You can definitely still love people from afar if you prioritize those relationships. Best of luck! -Brooke

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