8 advantages of a mobile mindset

Aug 31, 2017 by

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I’ve always envied those who’ve lived in the same area their whole life. Their family is nearby; their friends know all their childhood secrets and family idiosyncrasies; their future appears more stable; and they have a whole community in an emergency.

However, I know that I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t moved. I can’t even begin to imagine how my perspective on life would be different.

While neither a mobile or stable perspective is better than the other, here are eight reasons I’m grateful I’ve moved:

Loose hold

Over the years people have asked me, “Do you like this area better than this area?” My standard response is that it is the people who make the place.

Every area has its advantages and disadvantages: The Shore has mystical fog and friends who refuse to let me stagnate. The Shenandoah Valley had changing leaves and deeply respected mentors. Florida had the Spanish moss and friends my age.

Moving forces me to enjoy my current situation, while accepting that it’d be OK if I had to leave at some point. It creates a homesickness for heavenly perfection, and it creates strong friendships which have to survive the test of distance.

Newcomer sensitivity

Because I’ve been the newcomer before, I tend to notice new people quicker than others. I have a better sense of how to help them fit in and what will be uncomfortable for them.

Unique experiences

I’ve lived on the Shore for six years, but have never gone to the Pony Swim or up to Wallops to watch a rocket takeoff. Sometimes I become immune to the joys around me. They become mundane.

But when I am new to an area, I take advantage of all the new and different opportunities. In the course of life I’ve had experiences that while considered ordinary in some localities are unique in others; I’ve been to quilting circles, oyster roasts and concerts. I’ve had both a fox in my backyard and a drug ring next door.

Similarly, my friends have been varied since I haven’t kept the same ones from elementary school — missionary kids, immigrants, homeschoolers, public school teachers, Mennonite, Baptist, Pentecostal, liberal and conservative.

Broader worldview

I don’t mean to be arrogant in stating that those who live in the same area their whole life aren’t aware of what else is going on in the world. That’s not true.

Yet, I’m grateful for the new people and different experiences I’ve been given. For example, having a Haitian college friend has dramatically affected the way I interact with my Haitian students and helped me better understand their educational background and cultural values.

Once, when returning to an area I used to live in, I found that a local conflict seemed far less important since I had since been exposed to bigger issues. I was much more willing to focus on our commonalities than before.

God-dependency

My friends who’ve lived in the same place for a long period of time know whom to ask about a car question, whom everyone borrows tablecloths from for their wedding, and who doesn’t mind babysitting for them. They have no trouble raising support for a mission trip since they have know people of all ages.

Building those connections is usually a slow process for newcomers like myself who tend to only be introduced to one group at a time (e.g. co-workers or young adults).

Guess what that means?

I get to ask God for help a whole lot more! The answer isn’t always just a phone call away.

Courage

Life is more comfortable when I’m settled. The longer I am in a area, the less I will want to change, the more complacent I am. Goals like a master’s degree seem unimportant compared to my current busy schedule.

Yet, my mobile perspective has taught me to be less afraid of change and new possibilities. While I don’t feel as courageous and creative as Henri Nouwen’s description, I still like the way he puts it in A Letter of Consolation: “I am constantly struck by the fact that those who are most detached from life, those who have learned through living that there is nothing and nobody to cling to, are the really creative people. They are free to move constantly away from the familiar, safe places and can keep moving forward to new unexplored areas of life.”

Fresh identity

Every place I’ve lived, people view me differently. With two siblings in web development occupations and two other siblings who know far more about technology than I do, I didn’t think of myself as very tech-savvy until my current job where I’ve been one of the main proponents for 1:1 student devices.

Again, in comparison with my family, I never thought of myself as athletic, preferring to read inside than shoot hoops with my brother or walk with my mom. Yet, my college friends had a different perspective of me, voting me as athletic director of my intramural group and grudgingly attending the school sports games that I dragged them to.

I’ve appreciated developing new hobbies and interests, and quite frankly, not being as limited by others’ expectations or family comparisons.

Gratefulness

In my experience, the saying “Distance makes the heart grow fonder” is completely true. I value my family, my heritage and my friends more because I’ve had to live without them at times.

Tabitha Driver is a Mennonite who loves glimpsing God’s goodness on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. She blogs at Life is a Metaphor, where this post first appeared.


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  • Rainer Moeller

    Not bad, but not complete. For the other side of the argument look at:
    1 Many people have believed that modern migration and tribal diversity means more openness for different ideas. This has not worked well: Now we need more and more suppression of dangerous ideas in order to keep the different tribes happy.
    2. As Berry Friesen has argued, “fluid modernity” makes many people feel insecure which leads to repercussions against this fluidness. (And let’s not forget that they don’t only feel insecure, they mostly are in a condition of objective insecurity.)