By the time I was 14 years old, I had already lived in 8 different towns, 11 different houses, and went to 7 different schools. No, I’m not a military kid, my dad isn’t a drug lord, and we aren’t on the run, my parents just happen to really enjoy moving.
I am now 18 years old and can’t even remember every town I have lived in. My friend Melia on the other hand, has lived in the same city, on the same block, in the same house that she was born in, and believe me, I am envious. I would love to see a hole in my bedroom wall and remember some incident that happened when I was 4. I would love to know my childhood best friend is still right down the street, with the same tree in her front yard that I fell from and broke my leg. I would love to have Melia’s childhood. But interestingly enough, she would love to have mine. She would love to enjoy the cultures of different towns and schools. She would love to meet new people and make new friends with such interesting backgrounds, you actually begin to feel like an encyclopedia. So which of us actually had the better experience?
Now, I know what you’re thinking… If you had a childhood similar to mine, with the moving, and the packing, and the yada yada, then you might have opinions similarly to me; why on earth would anyone WANT to never have had a childhood home? And if you can count every house you’ve ever lived in on one hand, with fingers left over, you might have beliefs similar to Melia’s. But what about the facts?
Shigehiro Oishi from the University of Virginia and colleagues surveyed 7,108 U.S. adults aged 20 to 75 in 1994 and 1995 and then again 10 years later. Those surveyed were asked how many times they had moved as a child, and then a number of questions about their psychological well-being and personality type. Those that moved more as children, reported having lower life satisfaction, as well as a lower psychological well-being.
Moving around a lot has definitely taken a toll on the friendships and connections I have with others; I’ve always felt like the outcast. In 8th grade, I was asked to find a group of people to work with for a history project. Being the awkward, introvert I am, the teacher had to assign me to a group; it was awful. The three other people had known each other since 5th grade, and talked back and forth about random memories they had, or people they still hated. I on the other hand, worked silently on the side lines, completely ignored.
That’s all pretty harsh, and while I will admit, it sucks not remembering a lot of my childhood classmates, there are some perks that come along with these early-life moves. For example, I know who my true friends are.
Take for example, my friend Karaline. It was half way through fourth grade, when I met her; she was spoiled, rude, and beat the crap out of me daily. But came middle school, we were inseparable. They called us “The Twins”, and she was the sister I never had. But when eighth grade came around, and my parents informed me we were moving 3 hours away, I thought that was the end. I had gotten used to leaving people, and I was ready to say goodbye. But something really weird happened the week after I moved; she came to see me. Fast forward 5 years; I’m 18 years old, a freshman in college, and she still calls me once a week to tell me about her life.
Now, I can’t say that my life is so much greater than Melia’s, and I can’t say that Melia’s life is so much greater than mine, because life is so much more than the houses you have lived in. The memories you make, whether it be with close friends, or total strangers, are what dictate the quality of your life.
So the next time you feel envious of others experiences, take a look at the ones that have brought you to where you are today.