“Congratulations!” an article in College Magazine reads, “You’ve moved out of those pesky dorms and on to bigger and better digs. You’ve traded RA’s for limited supervision and can finally call yourself independent.”
Well, that’s not me, I had initially thought when reading the article. I’ve been out of college for five years and have traveled most of the world as a digital nomad. But with my recently announced move to NYC next year… maybe it is? Sure, that doesn’t mean that I’m a recent graduate, or that I don’t have a job or any direction in life. But it does mean that I’m having anxiety about getting an apartment. I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past few days, especially after hiking to the Mt. Everest basecamp and getting engaged up there. If I can do that, which was a challenge but not anything insurmountable, why does getting an apartment seem like the biggest hurdle yet?
Is it because I am afraid to stay still so long? I don’t think that’s it. While traveling has been amazing and transformative, there’s ultimately no meaning to be found in it, at least not any that can be translated to going back to regular society. In other words, it’s been awesome, but travelling full-time is not for me. It forces you to be constantly assaulted by change, which is interesting in its own right but doesn’t lead you to make any lasting connections to any one thing.
Ideally, if I was a millionaire, I’d maintain a residence in New York and just travel whenever I wanted to. But that’s obviously not realistic. I make a good living, but nothing close to what would be required to do that. But I think having anxiety about getting an apartment stems more from me not wanting to give up my flexibility. I work remotely, which allows me to do what I want, when I want. When I work, it’s mostly in bursts, a marathon to get work done so that I can live my life.
It’s a good way of living, but I wonder what I’ll do once I have an apartment and the free time to loaf around. With travel, you automatically have things built in to do. There’s always another sight to see or a food to try. New York is the closest you can get to that in a single city, but even then, it’s still a singular place. You’re still stationary, but I guess less exhausted than you are when travelling. It’s the closest to the best of both worlds I can think of, and also probably a good thing for me. I have a book to get out that I’ve been slacking on, after all.
I don’t think that’s the whole story though. There are other reasons I’m having anxiety about getting an apartment. Maybe it’s arrested development, or just not wanting to fall into the trap that everyone else does, but I guess I’m afraid. Things can go wrong, of course. But the entire process seems harrowing. Not just finding the apartment, but getting furniture, maintaining it, and dealing with everything. I’ve had short term rentals and long term rentals in other countries, but those were simplified; they weren’t in America.
I don’t want to live home anymore (and neither does anyone really want me there), but at the same time, I already know that I have more travel planned after I get the apartment. I’ll be gone all July for wedding planning in Montana, and a road trip to Arizona and Utah, in the Amazon and the Inca Trail in Peru all August, and then on an African safari for most of September. The timing just doesn’t seem right. But then again, I guess it never is, and there’s always subletting.
I recently watched a video about anxiety and the circles of influence. It was about trying not to flip out about the things that aren’t entirely within that circle, and recognizing the feedback loop that is occurring. Since my depression mostly abated, anxiety has largely taken its place. These are issues that aren’t easy to talk about, but I guess they wouldn’t be issues otherwise. Looking at apartments and thinking about apartments is causing me to have anxiety about getting an apartment. The circle continues, unbroken and unmoored.
I’m not sure if this is normal, but not much in my life has been so far. So if having anxiety about getting an apartment is what’s going to happen, I guess I’ll just have to roll with it through the entire process, both in terms of the financial cost and the opportunity cost. Otherwise, it’s not going to happen.