They say home is where the heart is. But what if your heart can’t find its place in this world? Have you ever wondered why? I have… and after moving cities, states and countries, I think I may have found the answer.

It all started twenty four years ago in a small town in Romania. I was a six year old little girl who had a wild imagination and even wilder dreams. One day, a family friend asked me: So what do you want to be when you grow up? I said I wanted to move to America. It is the earliest memory I have of feeling like I didn’t belong.

I was rushing to grow up, imagining my life in a place where I belonged, surrounded by people who fulfilled me, nurtured my big dreams and allowed me to flourish on my own terms. Twelve years in the making, the big day had finally arrived. My American visa was approved and my lifelong dream was about to become reality. I was convinced I was going home, even though I had never physically been there.

The journey to belonging begins

After a four hour car ride to the airport and two long flights I arrived in America. As I was picking up my luggage I couldn’t contain my excitement. I remember smiling so much my cheeks were sore. I remained in this euphoric state for about two weeks until reality set in. Things were not going to be as easy and smooth as I had naively expected.

There were many obstacles I hadn’t expected, like the language barrier and a much faster paced lifestyle. Life was so busy, I felt I couldn’t keep up. But I kept pushing forward because I was convinced this was where I belonged. I just had to find the right city that matched my way of living.

New York City?

Fate took me to New York City, the city that never sleeps and as amazing and energetic as it is, it drained me. I knew right away that I wasn’t a big city kind of girl. So maybe the suburbs were more of my thing. After living in the city for one year, I moved to the New Jersey suburbs in an entry level house that backed to a little forest. I loved the backyard, but I disliked everything else. The cold winters and the monotony of a well scheduled life that left no time for enjoyment or personal reflection.

So I thought… perhaps moving somewhere warmer and cheaper with the added benefit of southern hospitality was the answer. We sold our house and moved to Texas. I prefered the heat and humidity over the cold, snowy winters and people seemed nicer. So far so good. Only that, a few months later, I once again began to feel like I didn’t belong. The cycle of searching for the right place continued. I was convinced that my lack of belonging would be fixed if only I’d found the right city, in the right country.

home is where the heart is

Finding my happy place

After moving countries, cities and states nine times over the past ten years I realized I may never find it. Because my lack of belonging has nothing to do with the place I live in. It is the by-product of a disconnected childhood and living a socially acceptable life.

My heart has never been attached to a place. It has been longing for the harmony I didn’t find growing up and the peace I can’t find in our modern society. It is the realization I have come to only recently after looking up the happiest countries in the world for the third time this year.

I am beginning to see things in a new light and from now on, instead of searching for the best place to live in this world, I’ll be surrounding myself with people who understand me, immerse myself in activities that fulfill me and keep nurturing the imagination that fuels my inner world, the place where I feel most at home.

Watch video: When you feel like you don’t belong

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