For years my grandfather promised to take the entire family to the Rose Bowl IF — and for a long while it felt like a big IF —Purdue ever made it to the Rose Bowl again. But then Drew Brees came along and everything changed. And with that change came my first trip to SoCal. As an impressionable freshman in College, I immediately wanted to transfer to the West Coast.
By the start of my Junior year of College I was living with an ocean view in Malibu, California. Pepperdine University was and is the most beautiful campus in North America (in my humble opinion). And if I had started there as a Freshman I am still convinced that I would have absolutely never looked back. But as a transfer Junior, I soon discovered how much I missed my friends, and the atmosphere of Purdue University. By January I was trudging to class in 6 inches of snow back in West Lafayette and loving EVERY second of it.
The lesson I had learned was that grass always appears greener on the other side of the fence, but it rarely is.
Even in Malibu.
I share this because life and work are hard. Given the wrong set of circumstances anyone can be tempted to:
- Search LinkedIn for a new job
- Compare your job with others
- Compare your family situation with others
- Buy new toys to make yourself feel better
- Self-Medicate with alcohol or prescription pain medicine
The list could go on and on indefinitely.
To be someone worth following, you have to be content with what you have. West Lafayette may not be as pretty as Malibu, but despite its lackluster physical beauty, it possessed an internal beauty—personified in human relationships—that Pepperdine could not match for me at that time in my life. I learned that by focusing intently on what I did not have, I had discounted the beauty standing right in front of me. And thus, made a bad decision in leaving my friends.
While the regret that ensued was recoverable —my parents appreciated the smaller tuition bill and proximity of Purdue to Chicago, and Purdue gladly took me back —this isn’t always the case.
Therefore, don’t get fooled by the green grass you see “over there.” Like Malibu, it might be incredibly beautiful, but still missing something valuable to you. The next time you find yourself tempted by what’s on the other side of the fence, start by remembering all the blessings you are already enjoying on your side of the fence.
I‘m not suggesting to never leave, I am simply suggesting to leave for the right reasons and not the wrong ones, and to be careful of the allurement of the “new and better.” As I discovered, “new and better” might still be missing something important.