Do you know what is fascinating to us? The whole concept of “mindset.” And for the purpose of this article – the mindset we will refer to is the difference between an individual’s “local world,” and how “everything else” compares to that.

Your local world vs. everything else

We’ve lived in many spots in the NYC tri-state area over the years (being born in NJ). From the “big city,” other medium cities, and out in the middle of nowhere.

Some stretches of our lives included being somewhat “important” or “influential” in some places! Like an “all-star” of some kind, however short-lived that was.

We cared a lot about our little “stomping ground.” Why? Because it was almost all-inclusive.

In other words – it had everything most people could ever need. You really didn’t have to leave your speck on planet Earth to get 99% of what you wanted or needed. And what you couldn’t get – was easily delivered a few days later with a few clicks or taps. And if you made yourself visible often enough – you gained awareness (or notoriety) from others. Many people “knew” who you are.

But as we moved around, we gained experience and perspective. It was easier to see life through other people’s eyes.

What interests us, is how humans become focused or fine-tuned to their particular areas. Especially if they stay for long – or don’t wander far from their comfort zone. Also, how once a person finds contentment, they often never think about any reason to change their situation.

Locals can become stubborn, defensive, and snobbish!

Drive through any “downtown” or “Mainstreet” in New Jersey or anywhere else in America. You will certainly have people that are considered “locals.”

They could have been “born and raised” there – or just long-time residents. Some folks may not even be similarly “tenured,” but still have a proud “team spirit” for their locale (highly social people, business owners, etc.)

Those people almost become cheerleaders or self-appointed experts about their environment. You can also suggest they consider themselves “know-it-alls.”

But there is some truth to that.

Experience absolutely affords insight that a “newbie” cannot possibly know or understand. Repetition and observation add to someone’s value as a resource to a particular location. No doubt about that. Now whether their perspective is skewed or slanted is another story – “your mileage may vary” as they say.

Because as people get accustomed to their comfort zone, they also lose perspective to the rest of the world. Biased. Prejudiced. Defensive.

“My team is better than yours” is a common euphemism. The same way New Jersey is referred to by the rest of the country as “The Armpit of America.”

It’s all about the tribal mindset. Bizarre!

Sidenote: Everyone has a “mold” to some degree

As we write this, we realize it can evolve into a 10,000-word analysis of the different kinds of people out there. Those that hunker down, or move around, or love to travel and explore, etc. Even nomads who live on the road!

That isn’t the purpose of this. It’s more to see the differences between city-dwellers – and those who must get around more. Or even more simply – a rural life versus city life. And how just the simple regular use of a car can change the game tremendously.

We should also note that this concept doesn’t apply to all residents universally. Some folks live where they live for practical reasons (job, family, economy). It may not have anything to do with preference.


Expanding your horizons

So you can live in a big city such as NYC or L.A. and never see it all. You could even live in a smaller place like Jersey City or Philadelphia and have the same shortcomings. No one can ever see it all! You just have what you can do and “reach.”

Settling down in an area that requires at least some travel to outside areas is fun for us. More importantly – it offers a clean, FRESH perspective as well – free from “biased” or defensive opinions about your “team” if you can relate.

Why? Because each new locale has an entirely different “vibe.” While different spots within a smaller (denser) city can also have differences – they’re not the same.

Living in central NJ (hence the NJroute22 blog name) has invigorated our curiosities about people. We’re not just limited to a smaller “Petrie Dish” sample size.

The differences between “vibes” in places like eastern PA and northern, central, and southern NJ are profound. We still struggle to understand exactly why. We have some ideas – but they’re incomplete. That is what keeps our interest piqued.

Treat your life like a vacation

We’ve mentioned this before – how it’s fun to treat your life like a vacation.

You know that feeling you get when it’s the first time you’ve gone somewhere?

You kind of “compare” the new place to your existing experiences – and that is how you form an opinion about it. At least initially.

Then, as you visit more and more “new” places – that immediate “knee-jerk” reaction subsides. You begin to see the bigger picture for what it is. Exactly that – a giant picture you know you’ll never finish painting. An ever-growing portrait of the world through your eyes.

Some folks want to expand that more and more until they croak. Perpetual travelers and explorers. Which is fine. That “never-ending thirst” for more. I think most people have that desire in them – which is why almost everyone is susceptible to the “upgrade” mindset (i.e., phones, cars, homes, etc.) They say that you never stop learning – and the same goes for exploration and experience as well.

Little of a lot – or a lot of a little

I guess it boils down to this: Do you love being an expert at one or two things? Or well-versed in MANY things?

We prefer the latter.

While life had provided us with the opportunity to focus on tight-knitted areas, we became suffocated by it. Something was irritating about it.

The freedom to expand outward to new places far and wide was more compelling. And less stressful.

When you allow your playing field to grow – it gives you many more options. It also takes much longer to “conquer” that new bigger forum. Which can be a good thing.

Now what happens if that newly enlarged mindset becomes too small – is a question for another day for sure!

About the author


NJroute22 (site admin) is an avid traveler along NJ Route 22 (and almost all of central New Jersey!) Family man, pet lover, and property owner who has a natural curiosity for everything around.