I’m not sure how to start this out, so I’m just going to jump right into it. I’m leaving Toronto and moving back to Saskatchewan. It feels good to get that out. Although I didn’t talk about it often, my plan always was to move back home eventually. This time was always meant to simply be a chapter in my story – one that was about new adventures and self-fulfillment and exploration. I put my life on pause to move across the country just because it was what my heart desired.
I don’t regret one minute of my time here. This chapter has been my favourite one yet, and it breaks my heart knowing that it’s coming to an end. I never could have imagined the things this city would give me. I feel more confident in who I am, more comfortable in my skin, and closer to myself than ever. The personal growth that I’ve experienced has made this experience worth it on its own. I have been given new perspectives and wider understandings. I think that one of my biggest fears in leaving Toronto is these things changing again when I get home. I don’t want to ever forget the way I’ve felt while being here.
Over the past ten months, I’ve gone back and forth between wanting to move home ASAP, wanting to live in this city forever and ever, and everything in between. But the underlying constant was the difficulty I had with being so far away from my family. I know that there are many people who only see their family a couple times a year, but I just don’t know if I have it in me to be one of those people for much longer.
I’ve fully enjoyed my days of exploring new coffee shops, new neighborhoods, and building friendships with new people, but lately I have found myself feeling as though I am reaching a wall. I’ve been feeling like I need something to work for again. As nice as it is having no responsibilities besides showing up to my serving job and paying the bills on time, I feel myself needing more. So I’ve decided to go back to school in the New Year and finish the degree that I peaced out on before finishing. And then after that, I’ll do who knows what. But at least I’ll feel a little more accomplished and I’ll have the freedom to take my next step, whatever that may be.
While I knew for awhile in the back of my mind that I would be leaving, I tried my very best to push that fact to the furthest corner of my mind, because I was in the middle of having some of the best days of my life. It hurt too much to think about leaving behind the city and people who I was growing to love more than I imagined I would.
In a way, I came into this experience with a bit of a wall up. I didn’t want to let myself get too attached because I knew my time here was temporary. I made sure to go home often enough so that I could be reminded of how much I love it there, and I did my best to always stay closer to my friends back home than I allowed myself to get to the ones I have here. I tried to remember that this is just a place I’m living for now, and that it’s not my home. And that plan worked for a very short time.
It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the city. But it wasn’t until I began forming genuine friendships that I knew I was in trouble. I remember nights spent with new friends, looking around and thinking to myself, “This is not good. I’m getting attached to these people and I’m only going to get more attached with time, and I’m going to be heartbroken when the day comes that I have to leave them”. They turned a place that I loved into a home that I loved.
The thought of moving back home is bittersweet. It makes me happy and excited, but so incredibly sad at the same time. I’ve had trouble in the past knowing what I want, and I often wonder if I ever will know. All this time, I knew deep down that I could be happy in either city. So I did what any people-pleaser like me does – I told each person the sides that they wanted to hear. Before I moved to Toronto, I told my family that I would be gone no longer than a year. I told myself that enough times until it became what I took as fact. In reality, I had no idea what to expect from the experience, so how was I to know what I would want a year from then?
When people in Toronto would ask me about myself I would say that I’m on a break from school to take time for me and explore a new city, but that I love it here so much I could even see myself transferring to a school here to finish. When my friends and family at home asked me what my plan was, I would say that I love Toronto so much, but I don’t think it’s where I want to end up. That it’s good for the experience, but I prefer the simpler life that I grew up having.
Sometimes I felt like I was a two-faced liar. But the truth is, nothing I was saying was a lie. I genuinely felt all of those things, all at once. Simultaneously, I wanted to be at home and I wanted to continue to live the life I was building here.
The more time I spent here, the more it began to feel like home. Over the first few months of being here, I grew to love the city so much, but I still had a hard time feeling at home here. I realized that it was because I had no one that I loved here. I was in love with the city, but I had no heart connections. My heart was still fully at home. During those times, it was easy to keep up with the idea that my time here was going to be temporary, because I had no one here that I would miss or that would miss me. But like most things, those relationships come with time. Over the summer I grew incredibly close with a few people, and every time the thought of having to leave them tried to sneak its way into to my mind, I would shove it away where it wouldn’t bother me so I could continue to pretend like those moments weren’t suddenly on a countdown. But here I am now. Finally having to let those thoughts free and having to come to peace with them.
Although I never expressed it to my family because it wasn’t aligned with what I had always told them, there were many times, especially in more recent months, that I’ve thought that moving home would be a mistake. That I wouldn’t be ready. That maybe this was where I’m meant to be, even though I always said I could never permanently live that far away from them. Things had gotten so good here, and many times I questioned why I was even considering leaving.
But at the same time, there were many moments when I felt like I needed to go home as soon as possible. Like I needed to get out of the city because it was becoming draining and because no feeling could overpower how badly I wanted to be close to my family. Like I was exhausted from the competition and feelings of inadequacy because of the constant comparison to people who are so successful and so beautiful and so cool. There were moments when I craved the wide open spaces and the simplicity and the comfort of home. But of course I rarely expressed these feelings to my friends here because I was happier talking to them about the things that made me want to stay. It was a constant internal back and forth, and I did my best to be vague with people until I figured my shit out for myself.
I’m happy to have finally made the decision to move home, because although it’s brought me a lot of emotional turmoil, at least coming to a decision has given me some peace. Telling my Toronto friends has been nothing shot of heartbreaking, but I can at least find happiness knowing that I have made friendships that will last outside of living in the same city. And this whole post might be making it sound like I’m mostly sad to be leaving, but in reality, I’m equally happy and excited to be moving home and going back to school, and to be surrounded by different people I love. I’ve decided to look at moving home not as going back to what I know, but as a new adventure in itself. My hope is that I carry the new things I have learned about myself and the new perspectives I’ve gained with me, rather than leaving them behind as though they were only relevant to the “Toronto me”.
As mentioned in my last journal post, I’ve been posting less because many of the words I was writing were too honest to share before I was ready. Over the next little while, I’m thinking of finally sharing some of those posts that I had written, to give more of a look into the sides of my experience that I didn’t want to share while I was still in the middle of it. I hope they will let you will understand me a little bit more.