What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?
That when I've been bored with life in a place, it has almost always been because I chose to be bored there.
Now, I say "almost always" because there were actually times in the past when I did try--and fail--to make a place one that I enjoyed. I became involved in a local theater group, went to the same restaurant for karaoke every week, tried to get out and discover the area by hiking and going to wine festivals and whatnot. But the only place I made friends was (somewhat surprisingly?) at karaoke, and the list of different things to do quickly dwindled, and this place was just so chock full of closed-minded people and failing businesses and lack of job opportunities that in the end, the best thing for me to do was leave.
However, I gave a lot of flak to my hometown and the surrounding areas growing up, but really, north-central Connecticut isn't all that bad. I went back for a year and whereas it would never be my first choice of place to live (due to expense and cold weather), I enjoyed much of my time there. And had I put myself out there and joined local interest groups and made new friends and had a constant stream of fun things to do, as I have here, I think I would have enjoyed, well, all of my time there. But I didn't do those things, and that's no one's fault but my own.
Even while living in Orlando all those years ago--I complained about the tourists (especially the tourist-caused traffic) and the expense of living--but I could have moved outside of the general Lake Buena Vista area and rented a much cheaper apartment, or even bought a house. I didn't because I was afraid that being too far away from my workplace (Disney) and my work friends would make for a lonely life. But had I been willing to put myself out there and try activities other than those revolving around Disney, I'm sure I would have found a thriving life in many--shoot, in any--other area of Orlando.
Moving to Greenville and not really knowing that many people here forced us to step out on our own. I put out a plea on an old blog of mine for ideas as to how to meet people, and by far the best one came from a friend who had moved to Arizona for grad school and used Meetup to put himself out there and befriend like-minded people. Fast forward nearly a year (because we joined in January 2010) and although I think it's safe to say that Steve and I have only met a couple true good friends through Meetup, we do have a [very large] handful of great acquaintances thanks to the site. But even better than that, we have a constant stream of great activities introduced to us! Whether it be a private wine tasting on a Saturday evening, a night in Asheville (North Carolina) for a brews cruise, an all-day hike in the Blue Ridge mountains or a "Yappy Hour" at a downtown pet store for us and our pups...there is never a lack of things to do. And trust me, we have taken advantage of that!
That said, as for applying this lesson as I go forward...I think that, so long as we continue to keep abreast of local activities and keep in touch with those local acquaintances we've made, over time some of those people may become friends, and we will continue to have a constant flow of tried and true things to do...as well as some great new entertainment options :o)