Beyond the Borders: A Call to Leave Your Hometown


We all know some people who grew up in our hometowns and never left their parents’ house. They became adults, but they seemed to miss out on the passion and adventure of living. Why did they remain the same when everything else changed around them?

Beyond the Borders: A Call to Leave Your Hometown

There’s something wild and beautiful beyond the borders of your hometown, beyond the neighborhoods in which you spent your youthful, carefree days.

The town was your home, the streets grew familiar by routine and obligation. Your classmates became your acquaintances became your friends, and now you find yourself realizing some friendships grew stale or faded into the hollow symbols they might have been from the beginning.

It hurts to think the life you’ve built in the same place, for years and years, could crumble beneath you. But it will, if it hasn’t already. Time changes all things, and people change along with it.

Change isn’t the enemy. Lost friends aren’t the enemy.

False stability is the enemy. And it threatens you all the time.

If you dare to leave your hometown, the call for comfort and stability will chase you for miles on the interstate, perhaps never giving up. You may temporarily outrun it, but false comfort’s whispers will haunt your dreams. Come back home, it says. You don’t belong out there, where things are risky and dangerous and unpredictable. Don’t you want to have an easy, good life? To stay safe in the same place you’ve always been?

Reject that call. Putting faith in the stability of a place or circumstances is a cruel lie. There is no promise of safety from risks and heartbreak and the unknown.

The only solace in a world of instability is accepting the reality of change.

A highway takes you past the edges of your manageable, comfortable life, into new lands of opportunity and freedom; not simply to other provinces or municipalities in which you should construct another stable, boxed-in life. A box is no dwelling. Boxes are for storing objects, not living beings.

Hometowns are not meant to be cocoons for creatures that have already bloomed to maturity. Once adulthood is reached, a return to the cocoon would be a resignation to death. When a new life must push out from the nest and feel wind flowing beneath wings, returning to the start would be dishonor to the one who raised and taught to fly. It would be an unnatural diversion from the path all living beings must tread; the path leads always forward, not maintaining ease or comfort.

Do not return to easy, for it is a cage.

Easy is backtracking. It’s going the wrong direction when the path of destiny is clear. And the right path always leads forward.

Once loosed from the rigidity of preconceived notions and cultural expectations, you find light and love under the stars, in the shade of evergreen forests and at the foot of mountains that call your name. Or perhaps the thundering traffic of the metropolitan grind serves as soundtrack to your exploration of places foreign, romping through the concrete jungle to replenish the youthful sense of wonder.

You are not required to make your home in one house. The world is wide and your existence begs to become an adventure of varying places and people and things. No one place is able to contain your identity. No one factor is meant to define your life.

If your identity is tied up in the comfort and stability of your current situation, or your social status, or your city, you need to leave.

Wherever you are, whatever you do, remember there is life beyond the bounds you presently find yourself in.

You were made to be free.


What is holding you back?


Read stories of taking risks, leaving home, and becoming more of yourself along the way in my book, The Variable Life.

2 responses to “Beyond the Borders: A Call to Leave Your Hometown

  1. A great post John. I also responded to Patrick’s response post on your topic.

    It convicts me, not because I am unhappy or comfortable with where I am at, but that my desire to finally say that I have finished something that I started (7 years ago now) supercedes my desire to move away. In my season of life it is difficult to decide which desire is more important or more useful for my growth as a maturing adult. But as soon as the BA diploma is in my hand…I’m high-tailing it outta here!

    • Thanks for reading and replying, Maggie.
      I just read Pat’s response and left a comment on my thoughts. I didn’t see your comment, but what you’ve written here encourages me. I think the attitude you have toward finishing what you started is noble, and frankly, rare among young adults. We’re becoming a generation known for wanting quick results or ditching, so we lose out on the value of learning through enduring conflicts and finishing strong, even if it’s just to have something completed and move on to the next thing. Going through those processes helps us grow.
      Godspeed, and keep at it! You never know what your next chapter could be.

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