When I was nineteen years old, I moved 2 614 km away from my home in small-town, never-heard-of-it, Saskatchewan to the bustling city of Toronto, Ontario. For these nineteen years I lived exclusively in Saskatchewan, never more than two hours away from where I grew up. By the time I decided to move away, I had recently completed my first year of University in Regina, and although I love and value learning, I despised the structure that traditional University had to offer.
I don’t remember sitting down and specifically deciding what I wanted to do with my life in terms of a career, because only one in a million will really know who they are at 18 years old, but I knew I had a serious passion for music. So when I applied to a small music-oriented college in Mississauga, Ontario (just west of Toronto) and got in, moving across the country felt right.
I was a wreck the last night I spent in Saskatchewan, but I told myself to be tough and that it would only be three months until I would fly back home for Christmas holidays. Plus, I was on an adventure – I didn’t know a soul in Toronto besides family that I would be living with until I got on my feet, so I could be selective with who I let into my inner circle.
As of January 1st, 2016, I have been living in Toronto for 5.5 years (holy shit!), which is something that I never thought I would be able to say when I first moved; knowing at the time that my chosen career path was a gamble akin to winning the lottery. In the time I have been living in Toronto, I have completed college, made some amazing and valuable personal connections, maneuvered my way into a 1 year music publishing internship, and eventually was hired at a major record label.
In terms of my career path, I got beyond what I envisioned and I am eternally grateful to all the people who helped me along the way. I love the little world I’ve created for myself and I regret nothing.
This post isn’t supposed to be an “oh-woe-is-me-i’m-so-emo” expression, but rather a collection of points not often thought about for others to consider when making their own decisions in regards to moving.
5 Things I Learned After Moving Across Canada By Myself
You will experience a lingering, yet mostly mild, sense of homesickness
Moving to the big city from a town of 400 people made me feel like a fish out of water for the first while, and I will always be a country girl at heart; preferring nature to concrete, and bush parties to clubbing. Over time, I’ve become more accustomed to living in the city, but a chunk of my heart will always belong to the place I grew up.
These days, I can only afford to go home about once or twice a year, and I miss things about home I didn’t even know I cared about, and I’m wary when even small things change. Which leads me to…
You will miss most of the big moments in your loved ones lives
A round trip flight home for me is between $700 – $1000, so using that as a main factor, I have missed funerals, weddings, births, graduations, and plenty of other major moments. My brother was dating his girlfriend for a year before I met her, I haven’t met many of my cousins babies, and my friends have gotten married to people I have ever just creeped on Facebook.
…and they’ll miss the big moments in yours
Just as I have missed key moments in my loved ones lives, they have missed plenty of mine as well. Job promotions, birthdays, and awards are celebrated with a phone call or text message. Building deep connections with people takes time and commitment, and when you are single and only surrounded by new friends, most celebrations are done solo.
Your circle of friends will drastically change
For the first couple years after moving away, my friend circle at home stayed pretty much the same. We all got together over the holidays and made a point to hang out whenever we could. Now, due to people moving away, a difference in personalities, and just plain old losing touch, when I go home there are maybe five people outside of my family who I keep in touch with. In a way though this is a good thing, and it can relate whether you have moved away or just changed as a person (Although I think it relates to anyone who has ever graduated high school, really).
Over time you find out who really counts in your life and you can keep people close to you who view the world in a similar way. You get to choose your own wolf pack.
You will become fiercely independent
Until you really get a solid group of people to lean on, you’ll have to figure out how to deal by yourself. Whether it’s apartment hunting or going to a concert, you’ll have to learn how to be your own best friend and watch out for yourself.
And as a non-generalized side note / Point 5.5:
Toronto truly is a different beast from the rest of Canada
When I first moved to Toronto, I had never stepped foot in the city before. As someone who’s Canadian experience was primarily Western Canada before she moved, T-dot was a shock to the system. When I first got here, I had no idea what Shawarma was, or an LCBO, nor had I ever driven on a 16-million lane highway. The multiculturalism alone was a shock to the system. But being able to speak to people from all over the world, and experience and take part in their customs – all in the same city – is something I’ll never take for granted.
P.S. I will never call it “The 6ix”. End of argument.
Now let me reiterate, I in no way regret the life path I chose. I have grown and learned things about myself that no other experience could ever have granted me. I am a firm believer that people can only truly grow when they take themselves out of their comfort zone and throw themselves into new situations. When I moved, I followed my heart, all the while knowing that I would never be truly satisfied in life unless I took myself out of my hometown for a while. On my journey I have made irreplaceable friends, and I have had experiences that I would never change for the world.
Leaving home is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done for myself, but over time I have learned the cost of living away from my primary support system.
The adventurebug is not one to be reckoned with however, so for now I will keep roaming, keep challenging myself, and who knows, maybe one day – way in the future – I’ll muster the courage to return to my roots.