I recently filed my tax returns for 2015 because I’m irresponsible and don’t like to be bothered. I filed these along with my 2016 returns, and for the first time, mailed them in instead of e-filing because I had them prepared by my fiance’s coworker since this time I had some student loan stuff and different addresses and I didn’t think I’d do them right myself. It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that I definitely should have received my bigger return back by now, which is about the time when I got a letter in the mail saying that the IRS needed me to verify my identity before they could give me the money back from the 2015 return. Now, I’ve definitely filed multiple years together before (I knew I didn’t owe anything and they were pretty uncomplicated W2 forms), and I filed them online, which to me seems like more of a red flag than a paper return. So, a thought dawned on me: am I a red flag because I’ve been at different addresses? There’s not much else that seems fishy about the boring old papers I mailed in.
So now my question is, why is it so weird to move? Not just in the eyes of the IRS, but most people think it is absolutely outrageous that my fiance and I have moved to a few different states in the past five years in search of better opportunities. We’re relatively young, have no kids other than a cat who thinks I gave birth to him, and just wanted to be able to live comfortably, which wasn’t really an option when we were living in California the fist time around (not by choice, but because we grew up there and hadn’t left yet).
We moved to Colorado, to a smaller college town called Fort Collins. From there, my fiance had a better opportunity in Denver, so we moved there. When that opportunity died down, we moved to Colorado Springs, where he had found a better-paying, albeit temporary job. We even started a business there and were almost making it work, and then our rent was raised, but we hadn’t been able to totally fix our credit yet, so we moved yet again to avoid paying huge deposits on apartments that weren’t really worth the cost. This time, we moved to one of the cheapest areas of the country, to a small, nothing of a town called East Cape Girardeau in Southern Illinois, and were able to get back on our feet with better paying jobs, lived in a little house that we rented, and we stayed there for two years before coming back to California with via job transfer for me.
What about that seems strange? That we didn’t stay where we were in the first place so that we could complain about how poor and uncomfortable we were? We followed our opportunities, moving to more and more affordable places each time. We didn’t necessarily want to move every time we did, but we did it because we refused to give up on finding something better. (By the way, if our story isn’t proof that “millennials” aren’t doing everything they can to make things work, I don’t know what is. When we got to Southern Illinois, we cleaned a strip club for money until we got better paying jobs. Does that sound like a “lazy, entitled millennial” thing to do?) If anything, it seems unnatural to stay in one place for years and years, unhappy and unfulfilled.
Our moving has been a potential red flag to employers, too. “Why have you relocated so frequently? How do I know you won’t leave us, too?” The honest answer to those questions is that we want success so fervently that we will do whatever it takes, including uprooting ourselves from state to state to have it, which actually makes me more qualified for any job I apply for than anyone who wants a great job to fall in their lap while they’re sitting at home five minutes away from the neighborhood they grew up in, unwilling to withstand any discomfort of looking elsewhere. And as for how will you know that I won’t leave you? Pay me a living wage and make it worth my forty hours a week with some healthcare and paid time off once I earn it, and I won’t leave you.
We’re back in California now, and not only do we appreciate it more than ever, but we’re more well-rounded and more aware of the world around us and how other people live. We have friends in two other states that we would have never known otherwise. We have more confidence because we were able to move to the other side of the country and back mostly unscathed and stuck out our relationship even when money was tight and when both of us were more exhausted than we’ve ever been in our lives. So, sorry (not sorry) if that’s weird. To me, we’re living life. If how many addresses I’ve had seems strange, well, it sounds to me like maybe that’s just another way to compartmentalize my experience so that others don’t actually have to take the time to get to know me.
Life isn’t meant to be lived in a box (even though that statement comes straight out of a box, neatly packaged with a nice little bow to give to anyone having a hard time). It’s okay to move. It’s okay to leave everything you know behind to see if something better is out there. What’s weird is doing the same thing over and over again and hoping something turns out differently. What’s weird is being given one life to live and thinking your little neighborhood is going to give you everything life has to offer. There is nothing linear about the human experience, and we need to stop trying to bang it into such a shape before we’re happy. So, go be weird like me and move away. Just make a copy of your tax return when you do it or else you won’t be able to identify yourself when the IRS finds out.