371 days. That’s how many days it’s been since I’ve posted on this blog. In my last post “Destined for More,” I talked about assuming my life was going to be glorious and grand in Sioux Falls. I even went so far as to say, “Simply put: I’m destined for more, and that’s not in Spearfish.” Welp…I was wrong. My, oh my, how life has changed in less than a year.
Since leaving the Hills on May 7, 2016, life has been a chaotic, wild, difficult ride. Two unfulfilling jobs. Two lackluster cities. One disappointing year.
When I moved to Sioux Falls, I was so optimistic for the future. I assumed I had it all figured out. I very quickly discovered that wasn’t the case. After very quickly hitting burnout in Sioux Falls, I decided not only do I need a change of job, I decided I needed a change of scenery. I ended up 720 miles in the opposite direction in Billings, Mont.
Very similarly, after arriving in Billings, I was very optimistic. I had big dreams and big hopes for what life could be like. Unfortunately, the optimism wore off and the dreams faded as I discovered the realities of my place of employment.
Suddenly, in January 2017, it hit me: I’m completely alone in Billings. Sure, I have acquaintances here that I’ve met and long lost friends I’ve tried to reconnect with. But adult life is so hectic to invest in those relationships. Otherwise, I’m 300 miles from my closest friends and 700 miles from my family. On top of that, I’ve been balling on a very strict budget for a long while now, restricting me from taking adventures into the mountains.
Speaking of adventures, they told me that Billings is the gateway to an outdoor paradise. What they didn’t tell me is that it takes at least an hour one-way to get to said paradise. Unless I feel like driving 120 miles round-trip, I’m not going hiking any time soon. Within the city of Billings, there’s places to walk around and get some exercise. But hiking is my biggest release and it’s how I recharge mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Soon after my devastating realization in January, I feel into something I’ve never experienced before: a dark, deep, harrowing depression. My otherwise consistent optimist spirit disappeared. My hours of sleep skyrocketed. My social interaction disintegrated. My view of the future became bleak.
Two separate weekends this spring, I had the opportunity to go back to the Black Hills. In total, I was only in the Hills for seven days, but those were the most stress-free seven days since moving away from my beloved Hills. However, every time it was time for me to say goodbye, the darkness set in again.
As I was driving back to my house in Billings after a weekend in Spearfish and crossed the Montana state line on the interstate, I nearly broke down into tears. I realized then that I didn’t want to be there anymore.
All too often, I found myself experiencing another phenomena that I’d never experienced before, at least not to this depth: severe homesickness. There were nights I would sit in my office (I don’t have internet at my house. How sick is that?!) and get onto Google Maps and look at the Street View of both Spearfish and Mitchell (where I grew up), hoping they would offer some condolences because it was a familiar sight. Much like a drug, it offered a temporary fix, but as soon as reality set back in, I was back in my dark place in my head.
My college friends Scott (affectionally referred to as “Other Scott” or “Better-Looking Scott”) and Josh created a video on their YouTube page (LaSmuge) telling their life stories. At one point in the video, Scott made a comment that was obvious but dawned on me in a new light that night: “If I’m not happy where I’m at…I can just leave.”
Armed with this new insight, I decided enough is enough. I’ve officially begun the process of moving home, back to the Black Hills. Although I haven’t had any official job offers yet, I remain optimistic. 2016 Scott was wrong: my “destined for more” destination is bringing me right back to where it all started and where my heart has found peace: the Black Hills.
“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
(Photo Courtesy: BlackHillsTheHike.com)