There is a certain attitude among people who live in cities like London, New York, and Paris that they are living "at the center of things". There is an unspoken attitude that the mundane details of their lives are somehow more interesting and important just because they happen to live in a place that "counts". Their careers are thought to be more important, the neighborhoods they live in somehow mean something significant, their circle of friends and their social activities are thought to be fascinating, and their restaurants are to be raved about as the best in the world. Everything about their lives are assumed to be more evolved and advanced than those of us living in places that are less popular and familiar.
This attitude is not only held by inhabitants of major cities, but unfortunately it is also shared by most of us who have chosen to live elsewhere. We actually, deep down, believe the lie that our lives are less significant because we aren't walking streets that are routinely shown in the movies. I suppose TV and films promote this narrative, as most of them take place in one of these major cities. Also, our friends who move away often return only to make us feel insignificant by bragging about their fabulous and glamorous lives elsewhere. Everywhere we turn, this attitude is reinforced.
I used to be quite the offender. When I lived in Seattle, I was insufferable. When I would travel back to my hometown (or when I would go anywhere else in the world really) I was never shy about informing people about how wonderful and perfect things were in Seattle. I felt as though I was living somewhere that "counted"...as though my adopted Seattle opinions and values were cool, correct, and indisputable...as though our food was better...our coffee was better...our people were more educated...and of course I was superior because I happened to have a rented apartment (and a boring job) there.
So is it true? Is a walk down a beautiful street in Trieste, Italy somehow less interesting or important than a walk down 5th Avenue? Is a beautiful apartment in Ljubljana, Slovenia somehow less beautiful than an over-priced, smaller one in the center of London? Is a walk with a lover in a neighborhood park any less romantic than a long taxi ride and a walk in Central Park? Is a wonderful meal in Miskolc, Hungary less tasty than an average one in Paris, France? Is an 80-hour workweek in NYC truly superior than a 4-hour workweek in Kosice, Slovakia? Everything is relative.
Nobody is to blame because we all live in a bubble that is created by our community, our profession, our circle of friends, and even by the entertainment and content we consume. Life can be beautiful in wonderful in NYC, London, and Paris...but it can also be beautiful and full of endless possibilities in Madison, Wisconsin or Kosice, Slovakia.
Your life has value when you have found a place that feels like home and when your days are filled with the balance that works for you. Life is beautiful when it is filled with love, with joy, with ideas, desires, adventures, successes, and failures. Life is exciting when it is filled with the growth of new experiences, interesting tastes, new sounds, challenging ideas, and open or honest relationships. Life has meaning when you create something that is truly yours. Life is filled with contentment when you earn enough money to stop worrying and start living. All of this is possible, wherever you happen to live.
My point is that it isn't where you live that defines you and gives your life value, it is how you live. Life is (also) elsewhere.