When I lived in Toronto, I was quite happy. I was also a writhing ball of stress, likely to lash out at any moment. I was in debt. I said yes to too many (fun) things. I was sick all the time (Celiac disease, colds, flu, pneumonia, etc). I worked like a maniac, trying to hold together my full time job and build my portfolio in the evenings. I worried about little things, too, like how I looked, what people thought of me, things I had said wrong, things people had interpreted wrong. I thought I was a morning person because I woke up every morning with a rush of adrenaline, ready to attack my day. I multi-tasked like it was my religion.
The move to the country was not something I ever wanted. In order to make it more palatable, Jay and I made some compromises. Back then, I was sure I was getting the short end of the stick (I am QUITE attached to my family and friends), but was too in love to care. The gist of the "deal" was that we would live in Hamilton instead of Toronto, but for that I would get to get a dog and only have to work part time at a "real" job, and the rest at home on my art.
I won't pretend it has been an easy transition. I've found that some friends I considered lifelong, were only there because I was conveniently located. The first 6 months I was extremely isolated at home, with no drivers licence or way to leave the house without Jay, who was usually at work. It took me almost 5 months past the point where I no longer had any stressors to stop feeling stressed out. Most of that time I felt that I couldn't say much about my feelings of extreme loneliness to anyone, except as a joke, as most of my Toronto friends and family had rolled their eyes at me and declared me crazy for moving in the first place. Plus I didn't want the few interactions that I DID have with people I loved to be filled with accusations that I had been ignored.
So I poured my heart out in emails to the friends remaining. I got a dog that I love more than I can find words for. I spent my days painting and walking Finnegan and sitting outside staring at the corn field. I would save all my words for when Jay got home and pour them out in a huge rush when he was still shutting the car door at 5:45pm. I finally learned to talk to my mom on the phone, and like it.
I've lived here almost two years now.
I've changed. In many ways for the better. I read this post today from Bri about her anxiety. It was an eye-opener. Not so much because it's me, but because it ISN'T. But it used to be. I can't claim I made any conscious decisions to slow my life down or enjoy the little things, but somehow, it's happened anyways.
I stopped reading fashion magazines, and coincidentally stopped wearing make-up (and sometimes pants, when I am just home with Finn). I stopped trying to keep up with my social media feeds and instead spent my time reading, sleeping, playing fetch and accidentally getting my first tan in ten years. I stopped trying to be friends with everyone and started being a really GOOD friend to the ones I have left. I learned how to drive, and even though I still detest it, I am happy to leave the house on my own. Although I weigh more now than I ever have and am on a diet (I need to be healthier), I also worry way less about how I look to other people than I have since I hit puberty. I stopped feeling like I have to be an instant artistic success and am now just enjoying the ride, painting what makes me happy when I have no commissions and stopping for naps when I walk past my bedroom and notice there's a pool of sunlight on the bed.
I know that some of you who read this will think that my life is a bit boring. Especially those of you who still answer "How are you?" with the words "Busy!" or "Crazy busy!". There's a kind of mad glee and sense of purpose to that kind of business that is addictive, and in some ways I do miss that unending motivation and the ideas that seemed to bubble up inside me. (I still have ideas, but now they come kind of dreamily when I am relaxed, and I don't feel like I need to write every single one down and act on it)
What I have noticed is, no matter where you live or what lifestyle you have, once you choose a path, you are surrounded by people who chose that path, too, and they all think the choices you made are the best ones, because that's what they also chose. I know this because everyone in Toronto thinks that living in the country is a fate worse than death, but in the country people say "You lived in Toronto? My god, WHY?"
I don't think that one is better or worse than the other. I am one of those people who does my absolute best to feel happy in whatever situation arises. I wouldn't trade my twenties in a big city for anything, but now that I have Jay and Finn and the cats and some peace of mind, I wouldn't trade them for anything either.
Although I don't make new years resolutions, I do think that January is a good time to stop and take a good hard look at yourself. I have always felt that if you can't talk yourself into being content with something, you should grab control and make changes until you can. Probably I could use a little more focus on my art and a little less napping, more time visiting Toronto and my old friends and less time clicking wistfully on their social media profiles, more healthy cooking and less gluten free baking.
Anyways, I thought it was time to put it all out there... what moving cities really felt like for me. Has anyone else experienced something similar?