It was a quiet and predictable upbringing and that gave me a sense of security and consistency that I came to rely on in my adult years.
When I moved to Toronto, my world was literally flipped upside down. The evening silence of the suburbs was gone, replaced by the constant sound of traffic and people yelling on the street for no reason. The dependability of knowing the community you lived in vanished, replaced by the expansive downtown core that you could never seem to conquer, even if you tried. The ability to separate work from your personal life by leaving downtown Ottawa at the end of the day and returning to your quiet home disappeared, replaced by the overwhelming feeling that you might not be at work at night, but the environment you’ve come to associate it with (noise, bustle, towers) is still ever-present.
Not to mention the frustration and anxiety that comes from feeling like your brain can never turn off, the exorbitant costs of living, and the pressures to look a certain way, buy things you don’t need, and have a job that pays you more money than you need.
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What’s the one thing that makes the change bearable in a sea of inconsistency and uncertainty? Friends you can count on. It’s the one thing that isn’t different from a quiet life in the suburbs. Having dependable friends who understand you, can empathize with you, can be there for you when you need it, makes all the difference.
It took me a while to find those people that I felt comfortable enough letting into my personal life to the point that our coffee dates aren’t just me telling them about my job, but diving into the nitty-gritty aspects of my dating life, my true struggles with work, and even family stuff. It’s not the kind of relationship that develops instantaneously, but one that takes time, commitment, and nurturing, much like a romantic relationship. I want to make sure that, before I open my doors wide enough to let someone in, I can trust a person – not necessarily to keep confidential what I tell them because I’m not Madonna but to be open to listening and talking and sharing the best and worst parts of ourselves.
When political ideologies are dominating the news and stories of marginalized groups standing up against oppression and hate are everywhere, it can feel like you’re being sucked below the surface of a never-ending tidal wave of shit. People who know you, who know how you think and how you feel, and who see the world in very similar way to you, can ground you when things feel choppy, can stand with you when you can’t stand on your own, and can lean in to you when you need someone to lean on.
I’ve found those people here and I’m more than happy to be that person for them when they need it.
Surviving Toronto (or any big city for that matter) is no small feat. But if you can find your tribe, it can be the greatest adventure.