Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Prioritizing permanence and putting down roots

Carolyn Hax on

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

I'm at a loss as to how to put roots down and make a home. I've been moving around nationally and globally every two to three years, both within and between jobs, and I think it's affected my ability to feel at home anywhere. I really want to commit to a place, which means committing to a job typically; I'm in a niche field, not a lot of options in a particular area, at least not in an area I like.

I'm finding that really hard to do because advancement in my job usually requires moving or changing jobs. I'm also having a hard time committing to a partner -- I'd like to, but each relationship ended for individually good reasons that collectively make me look like I probably have commitment/trust issues. Therapy hasn't yielded any insights deeper than what I'd see in a women's magazine.

I've even bought homes with every intention of making a go of it, only to have my job (or divorce in one case) pull me away within three years.

Where do I even start in settling down? Drifting around is beginning to numb me.

-- Tumbleweed

Find the common denominator to your moves, and change it. Different line of work? Or, sacrificing advancement for permanence?

Choosing anything fully and permanently means, automatically, sacrificing something else, because you can't have everything. Moving for a career means sacrificing roots in one place; roots in one place mean sacrificing moves to advance your career; choosing this place means you never put down roots in that place; marrying this person means not pursuing or even getting to know all those other people.

It's fine to keep not making these permanent choices, as long as you are comfortable with the consequences. But you're not comfortable anymore, right? So now that you've decided to decide on something more permanent, the next step is to start weighing one stay-vs.-go option at a time and start making up your mind.

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