Toronto has been my home for the past twenty-seven years. But yesterday, I moved to Vancouver.
To give this statement some context, I’ll say that I’ve always found change and adjustment to be triggering. Graduating, moving houses, breaking up, changing jobs: it’s never been easy for me to face the unknown without a detailed plan in order. I’ve always looked for the maximum amount of change with the least amount of discomfort. Is it obvious I’m a control freak?
I’ve travelled to many countries and even lived in another city during university, but I always returned to Toronto. It’s my familiar territory. My house and family; my Queen Street and waterfront; my Jays and Leafs. It’s all I’ve ever known, and when you’re born into something, you don’t necessarily question it.
But despite being a creature of habit and familiarity, I’ve learned in the last few years that we have to be able to recognize when we’ve stopped growing. It needn’t even be said that growth is extremely important to each individual person for various reasons. And I’m sorry, Toronto, but the fact is you and I stopped growing together.
I started to realize this at an interesting juncture in my relationship with my city: just when I felt I knew it like the back of my proverbial hand. Still, maybe that timing makes sense. Perhaps familiarity really does breed contempt.
Okay, them’s some strong words. And I don’t mean to offend any Torontonians (I still AM one, remember!) Let me reframe this compassionately: Toronto has afforded me countless opportunities, experiences, memories and friendships. But as someone who has struggled in the past with mental health issues, I have this deal with myself to “tune in” when I’m feeling a pull.
The pull is what my therapist refers to as my growth potential, and of course it looks different for each person. But regardless, leaning in to it usually requires taking a chance on the unknown. It’s a high risk/high reward kind of thing.
I believe this pull to be so important to my personal development that I won’t allow myself to ignore it. I spent countless years being terribly unhappy with my life, and through therapy I was able to uncover that my depression was most prominent when I felt stagnant, when nothing significant was happening. I wasn’t growing, so my happiness dwindled as a result. Now that I’m nearing thirty (okay, in a few years, but IT’S COMING), I have the agency to make my life whatever I want it to be. So I’m leaving my most well-known locale to mix things up and perhaps have a fresh start. (Fun fact: I kind of hate the term “fresh start.”)
I’m being pulled to a new environment that is characterized by its nature, activity, inherent beauty and livable climate. No offense, Toronto, but I can’t endure another bone-chilling season with you, cursing the TTC daily. Literally daily. Like seriously, TTC. Get your shit together. So I’m swapping the concrete jungle for one of Canada’s playgrounds.
Moving out west will be a big change, but not an enormous one – we’re talking about jumping provinces, not planets. One of the biggest caveats sticking out in my brain is that I’m leaving an extremely strong support system behind. But I have faith that I will discover a new one in Vancouver. Better yet, I’ll be my own support system.
While change can be unnerving, it can also be extremely rewarding, and I’m willing to test that theory. I don’t plan to be here permanently, but I want to spend the next chapter of my life exploring and discovering how I fare outside of my comfort zone. I think I deserve to thrive. And like a potted plant that is ready to be transported to the ground, I need a new environment in order to flourish.