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I’ve decided to leave city life and move home. Should I care what others think?

The question

After six years of city living, I have made a life decision. I am going to forgo my life of "working in the big leagues," as my father would say, and move home to eastern Canada. As someone who left home at 18 and has fortified her career and adult life mostly on her own, I really don't feel like a cop-out for moving home to temporarily live in my sister's basement, while I sort out a job, because I know it's the right thing to do. The problem is, for as long as I can remember, I've been hatin' on those who head home. "There's nothing to do there," "The weather is brutal," "It's career suicide," etc. I am planning to break the news and make it "Facebook official," but how can I explain my change of heart? I feel like the biggest hypocrite. Should I care what others think? Do I need to explain my new mindset?

The answer

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Should one care what other people think of one? Great question, and one that has bedevilled humanity for millennia. Here's my take.

I do believe it's possible to care too much about what other people think. An especially worrisome trait in pop stars and politicians, I feel: The human impulse to be universally liked can undermine will and conviction, causing one to become a quisling or sellout, blowing like a leaf in the winds of fashion.

On the other hand, I'm not a fan of the modern fashion for not caring what anyone thinks and declaring everyone who's not a fan as a "hater." If one is blessed with friends good enough to tell you what people are saying behind your back, I think (painful as it is) it behooves you to listen. It could be useful information, help you grow and/or make corrective measures as a human being.

It's like the old saying: "If five people tell you you're drunk, maybe you should lie down."

Recently, a good friend said to me: "Dave, you should know, you're getting a reputation for X." (X being grumpiness, basically, along with not counting my blessings enough, and leaving parties too early). I felt ultra-zinged at first – mortified, mostly. A consensus was forming about me? People were talking and they all agreed that I possessed this curmudgeonly-ness?

At first, the notion made me grumpier than usual, and wanting to count my blessings even less, and leave parties earlier than ever. So people are watching me and judging? Why couldn't they let me be me? I've been working hard! I'm tired lately! I'd rather stay home.

But in the end I thanked this friend for the heads-up, vowed in the secret chamber of my soul to be more of a bon vivant and lampshade-headed life of the party, like I used to be.

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Likewise, madam, I think an argument could be made that this whole episode was sent from above to teach you a lesson in humility, a virtue I believe (as regular readers of this space will know) to be no less than the mother and father of all other virtues.

Without humility, no matter what else you got, you got nothin'. And so, yes, I think you should write your Proustian – well, not Proustian, too verbose, but a Michel de Montaigne-esque (i.e. ultra-honest),` apologia pro vita sua-type Facebook post explaining your decision to move back east and back home.

In your shoes, I wouldn't try too hard to make it sound like a cool move or "the right thing to do." You're moving into your sister's basement: Doesn't exactly have "Plan A" written all over it. But that's okay. Open your heart, explain how you arrived at this pass and say, in effect, "Sorry about all my cracks in the past and I take it all back."

(Which just so happens to be the title I've planned for my last-ever book: Sorry About Everything and I Take It All Back, by David Eddie.)

You'll be amazed at how many helping hands reach out to you. I know from experience: In my 20s I came home (after an imploded relationship) from New York with nothing, no prospects – a complete shipwreck. I was surprised at all the support I received, even from people I barely knew.

It's like crowd-surfing. It's like the first year of being a Hare Krishna. Trust in the goodness and kindness of people. With an open heart, tell them: "This is my story: I ask your forgiveness, and sue for your mercy." I believe you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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What am I supposed to do now?

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