Sammy Says: You Belong Wherever You Are

“This is the problem,” I said, ” Whenever I say that I wish there was better public transportation here, you say that’s never going to happen, and that I should just leave and go back to the UK. Well, I’m here! This is my home. This is where I am and so I belong here! I’m allowed to have different needs and opinions than most people who live here and I still deserve to have my needs met! And more than that, I can’t just go back there right now. I wouldn’t be able to see anyone anyway, they are in lockdown. I am stuck here!”

Ah, another fight, I mean argument, I mean LOUD discussion with my Father. A usual Tuesday in our house. We’ve learned over this quarantine together that we both have triggers. My Dad’s triggers are self-victimization, blaming the government for where we are and assuming that they are going to solve all our problems, and negative comments about corporations – “It is really hard to run a business! They make it sound like all businesspeople are just taking advantage of people. Most are making a positive impact. They always focus on the bad ones!”. There are probably more, but these are the ones I can think of. Having these conversations has actually helped our relationship, I think!

Adam Saenz, a school psychologist, said that teachers need to be aware of all their triggers before they get into a classroom. Some students will try to find your buttons to get power and control over you. You need to know what your buttons are or they will find them and you will lose control of the classroom because you will lose control of yourself. As a future teacher, I created a word document where I list all of my triggers. It’s kinda a long list.

It’s currently at 213. Just kidding! Here’s three of mine:

  1. Cambridge boys
  2. The publishing industry
  3. And the sentence, “Are you sure?”

Oh and public transportation and healthcare, which is how we got ourselves into this emotional dialogue.

My healthcare plan got terminated recently because I make so little and have been moved onto Medi-Cal. I guess it’s nice that the government is helping take care of me because this is a challenging time financially, but yeah – I find all the different private health insurance companies and the different kinds of plans so confusing! Also there are certain times of the year when you can apply. It’s way more complicated than the UK system which was – this is your doctor. Show up. Done.

I was never really sick when I was there, just colds and birth control, so I don’t really understand how it works if you need more help. Actually, I did need more help there and I couldn’t get the support I needed so I came back to the US. But then, I couldn’t get the support here either! Both countries really need to improve their mental health resources… a six month waiting list for therapy!

I still strongly feel like having a therapy appointment needs to be as easy and regular as getting your nails done or a haircut or a wax. I wish inner beauty was prioritized the way outer beauty is. We will get there one day! Loads of people are working on it, thankfully. And I’ve found some great resources on the way. I made a page with all the things I’ve discovered, if you want to check it out. Still adding, so DM me if you have a suggestion.

And then there’s public transportation! It’s really not worth talking about right now during COVID as I am actually very thankful to have a car during this time, but still. I miss the spontaneity, interconnectedness, community, and exercise that effective public transportation created every single day.

Just because of these items (and a few others), I often feel like I don’t belong here. America. California. Los Angeles. Calabasas. Here. Where I am. Where I was born. Where I grew up. Here. In a place that many people would dream of living.

For months I would curl into a ball and scream, “I don’t belong here! I don’t belong here!” I have felt this utter dissociation for over a year living with my parents in the suburbs. And I felt this way before COVID. COVID has only made it worse, hence the temper tantrums.

I really tried to belong here. I tried joining a writing club, a community service club, a rock climbing gym. I tried making friends at work . I tried attending University and getting my teaching credential. I tried going on Bumble dates. Nothing worked.

Eventually, I decided – I was right. I did not belong here and I needed to get out. I set my sight on San Diego. It was kismet really. I met up with a friend of a friend who lived in San Diego when I was down there. We were at this super trendy brunch place; we ordered a pancake paddle. OMG. It was gorgeous. Strawberries. Bananas. Sprinkles. Orange flowers!

12-3-11,9,0

We had similar stories. Grew up in California, went to St Andrews, lived in London for a bit, traveled a lot. Came home to change careers. Thinking about moving back to London. Gosh, it was such alignment! And then she said, “Would you want to move in with me? I found this two bedroom apartment.”

My smile went wide and I felt this lightness in my body. Oh my gosh the universe! This is exactly what I had been needing. “That sounds amazing! I need to think about it, but I think I could do a month.” OMG. She was so cool. This bar in Little Italy was so cool. I would be near my cousin and my friend from school. Yes, yes, yes!

We set the date! January 16th I would move in for a month to try it out, and maybe stay longer. I thought of it as a birthday present to myself. This was it! I was going to leave Calabasas. I was going to be back on my feet again. I was going to explore San Diego.

And then I got COVID. And she got COVID. And, yeah – things got really intense. For the first time in perhaps my entire life, I missed Calabasas! I wanted to go home. Despite not feeling like I belonged there and not even wanting to belong there, Calabasas had become the place I belonged.

Now I am home and I’m confused. I came back energized! I belong in Calabasas, at least until June 2021. That’s when I graduate. Hell, could be longer. I have a Zoom with an Assistant Principal at my old high school next week.

I keep hoping a job will solve it all! I messaged my professor about how to apply, and she responded, “Well, where do I want to live?”

I haven’t responded yet because what I want to say is, well I don’t know. I don’t know!

I keep trying to map out the rest of my life and pick the place that will best help me in the long term of things. I feel exhausted from trying to build a new life over and over again in different places and having my heart feel like a puzzle scattered across the world. There are some major changes I want to see take place before I leave this planet, and I think the best way to make them happen is by staying in the same place, right?

When I moved home, I focused on the saying, “The grass is not greener on the other side. All grass needs watering. Pick your grass and water it.”

It’s been two years, and I still haven’t picked my grass. Well, that’s not true. I did pick Calabasas. I joined all those clubs, and yet I still felt I didn’t belong.

I am starting to think that feeling like I didn’t belong had more to do with my mental health than with actually belonging there. As terrible as COVID was, it really forced me to confront my deepest fears and anxiety and made me appreciate my support system. Since returning home, I have been so afraid to ask for what I need. I have felt so vulnerable and scared to let anyone into my life. I have felt embarrassed about what had happened to me and where I had ended up. I have felt that my life had been completely derailed. I have felt so angry at myself, and so angry at others. If only I had known, if only they had known. It is a thought cycle that I still get stuck in, but am working to get out of. With COVID, everyone’s lives have basically been derailed – so it’s a universal experience now.

I am finally starting to feel better.

I am also starting to think that you belong wherever you are. At the same time, I think that society makes it hard for anyone to belong anywhere. What does it mean to belong somewhere? Where do I get this thought from? Perhaps I will delve into this for the next blog post.

I am where I am so I belong here, and that is that. At the same time, I am still strongly contemplating where to build my next life. It feels scary, it feels like a crossroad. I have been thinking of staying in Ventura County because it is the most logical thing to do, but really? Logical!

I like what my friend said, “No Sammy. It’s not about what’s logical. What’s your dream? What’s your dream live?! Do that!”

Where do I dream of living? What is my dream life? What are my goals?

These are the questions we must ask ourselves. As I write that line, I feel guilty to be thinking of myself as it feels like there are so many urgent crisis’s taking place! Yet, as I learned the hard way, you can’t help others if you can’t take care of yourself. Self-care!

Thus I am starting here. Hopefully by the end of this blogging journey we will be ready to get involved!

What about you? Where do you dream of living? Why do you live where you live? Do you feel like you belong where you are? What does it mean to belong somewhere? What are your goals? What major changes would you like to see take place in your lifetime?