Don’t be surprised if one day I just—
During quarantine, the “main character” trend blew up on social media, but now we seem to have shifted our focus to leading a quiet and unnoticed lifestyle. We went from wanting to be the center of attention in a big city like New York to wanting to live as complete strangers in a small town, with a garden and some chickens. So, what happened over the past year that created this romanticization of a cottage-core kind of lifestyle? Well, quarantine had a lot to do with it.
After being locked up for months, unable to travel anywhere, our homes almost felt like a cage. A lot of people began to feel the need to escape their hometowns, which they link to this past year of chaos. Also, the pandemic brought with it political and economic instability, unemployment, and the desire to recover the year we lost to find ourselves—all building into high levels of stress and anxiety for everyone. It makes sense that the idea of moving to a quieter place, with a simple daily routine—without the pressure of jobs and bills and responsibility—would satisfy our need for freedom.
The pandemic also forced us to stay home, in some cases 24/7, for months. This meant navigating boundaries in close quarters with roommates, or moving home because the rent rose too high, or because our college dorms closed. It was a radical and rapid change during which young people suddenly lost their independence, with no choice but to spend every waking moment with those sharing our living space. We know that many friendships and relationships didn’t survive the stress of the pandemic, and a number of people struggled with depression and anxiety due to bad relationships with parents they couldn’t escape from.
In my case, it took a lot of patience for everyone in my house to get along during the quarantine. We were all stressed about college, work, and the rocky state of the world. But we eventually learned when not to interrupt each other, to respect each other's personal space, and how to be quiet during university presentations and Zoom classes—especially since professors can be so annoying about it. Like, sir, I don't control the construction schedule of my city. This is a global pandemic. Chill.
Since the light at the end of the COVID tunnel is near, most of my friends now want to move abroad to regain their independence, but what’s holding some of them back is the idea of leaving their parents and family behind. Of course, this depends on the type of relationship you have with your family. If it's healthy, it might be more difficult to move out, but if your relationship with your family is toxic, walking away feels more like a safe, necessary exit from an unhealthy environment.
Another reason why young people want to move away—usually far from where they grew up—is because they feel bored of their hometown. When you’ve lived in the same place for years, you’ve probably seen all there is to see. You want to experience new things. This is part of growing up and finding yourself, something that a lot of people want to achieve as soon as possible after living through the pandemic. Moving to a different country or city is an easy way to attain new experiences quickly, almost like speedrunning a fresh start.
Moving, for a lot of people, is an escapist solution. We might be unhappy with the current state of our lives—whether we’re bored or struggling with maintaining healthy relationships—but relocating on a whim won’t likely solve all your problems. Take stock of what’s leaving you feeling unfulfilled in your life, and then think about whether moving is the answer. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.
So, if you really do want to move, do it for the right reasons. Make a list, write down some pros and cons. Don't just focus on what you could be leaving behind, but also what you could gain. If homesickness is holding you back, remember that you can always go home to visit. And remember that, while living on a farm with your pet dog and reading romance novels in your rose garden could be exactly what you need, it’s not totally realistic, and it definitely won’t be that simple all the time.