A few weeks ago I started reading Rachel Hollis’ book, Girl, Wash Your Face. I kept seeing it at Target and loved the title because: mood. I’ve been trying to read books mostly by women of color, but decided to give this one a chance after seeing a designer and business owner I follow on Instagram share a story about it. In the end, while the stories and advice may not always present an intersectional perspective, I can still get something out of it.
The book dissects each lie we’ve been taught as women. Lies that we tell ourselves everyday. Something else will make me happy. I’m not good enough. I should be further along by now. I’m only a few chapters in, so while this post may be a bit premature not having finished the book yet, I had to share some thoughts on the first chapter, “The Lie: Something Else Will Make Me Happy.”
“Moving doesn’t change who you are. It only changes the view outside your window.”
Throughout high school, I was obsessed with the idea of moving to a city and becoming a completely different person. I wanted to leave everything behind and begin a new life and be whoever I wanted to be. Looking back, it was heavily influenced by graphic novels I was reading at the time (Ghostworld and Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve series) and the desire to determine my own fate beyond the reach of family. But it was also rooted in the idea that my happiness was determined by location (and a whole lot of insecurity, a bit of self-hate, and depression). That trading the suburbs for city life where I could leave behind my baggage and history was the key to “living my best life.”
Reading this chapter brought back those thoughts, and when I outgrew them (if ever). In a way, leaving home and going to college was the first attempt at becoming a different person. I do credit those four years for laying the foundation for the woman I am today. After I graduated I lived and worked in Ohio for a few years. I was so lonely the first few months I even found myself driving down some road in the dark in the middle of corn fields in tears. Then I moved back home and tried to set myself up to move to DC. When the life in DC didn’t pan out, I resolved to make it work here in northeastern MD. I reframed my thinking and started to believe that I could be happy in my hometown. And for a while it worked. Until recently. Now it feels like I need to leave again to grow and be happy.
Maybe moving is the answer in this case. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s both. I agree that moving to a new place doesn’t necessarily change who you are. But getting away for a while can help you figure out what you want. It can test you. You can learn what you’re made of. But you have to choose to do those things. And whether I move or not, or make a big change like get a new job, I fully understand now that there isn’t a singular answer to being happy. So I’m going to fight the urge to run away and instead of looking elsewhere for answers, examine what I allow in my life as the book suggests. And then, maybe little by little, find my way to being happy.