A short 3.5 months ago, I shared a story about how I was starting a new chapter. I announced I had resigned from my current company, joined a startup and would soon be relocating to a new city. I was truly excited for the upcoming changes and all that I would learn over the coming months.
It’s not that I’m not excited now… it’s just that shortly after I wrote that post, reality hit.
The last 3 months have been the hardest months of my life. I have been living in less than ideal housing situations — couple that with living out of a suitcase. Not fun. I have been surrounded by bad influences and people that I don’t want to become. I have been going through the ups and downs of startup life — no it’s not always perfect or easy. Finances have been tight. I have let the lines of personal and professional completely blur, often putting work ahead of friends and family. All those self-discovery exercises I should have been doing earlier in the year — I’ve being doing now. I’m frequently confused and unsure. For the first time in a long time, I have felt censored and self-conscious. I have doubted my abilities, my brand and my purpose on this planet.
Life has truly been a rollercoaster — up and down — entirely full of learning.
Let’s go back in time…
After I moved to Calgary in 2003, I told myself I would never move again. I moved here when I was 19 and life was so different. I turned my back on high school and the island. I wasn’t the person I wanted to be, so I came to Alberta to find my place in this world. For the first 6 months, I began each day without a single friend. I would come home from my part-time university classes and hang out with my aunt. I kept on telling myself that it would get easier. Back then I was homesick. I craved the comforts of my family, the island and routine. I found so much more reward in working full-time in the community that I grew up in, than attending university in a new big bad city. Eventually things clicked. In the fall of 2003, I met some incredible friends that I am so blessed to still have in my life today. Days flew by, years flew by… but the more entrenched I became in Calgary, the more I knew that I needed to leave. Calgary was not me. I did not fit.
A love for the prairies. Alberta beef. Cowboys. A car focused city. Frigid winter temperatures. Money hungry corporate folks. None of it was me.
Why did I stay?
Opportunity. The education and work experience I have received in Calgary allowed me to thrive.
What was I missing?
The ocean. Culture. The opportunity to walk everywhere. The ability to embrace my inner hippie.
I knew I needed to leave, but I had no idea where I would go. For a long time, I didn’t even consider cities in North America. London, Melbourne and Singapore were on my radar. After I started receiving international job offers, I was unsure if I truly wanted to leave (or was ready to leave)… Canada will always be home. Earlier this year when I was asked where I wanted to move to… I said Vancouver. Did I put much thought into it? Absolutely not. I felt that my only options were Vancouver or Toronto and thought I was more aligned with west coast living.
Vancouver’s not perfect — hell, I’m paying a fortune in rent and may battle depression my first rainy season. :) I would never say that Vancouver is a better city than Calgary, but I’m hoping to say that Vancouver is a better city for me. On a day to day basis, I talk so much about fit and alignment (generally in reference to recruiting and employee engagement). I have been misaligned for years — and due to that, I know that I’m not living up to my potential. It would be to my detriment to stay in Calgary. It would be to my detriment to not allow myself to be the best person I can be.
I want to be feel passionate about the city I live in. I want to be able to stand behind it proudly.
Every day counts and I don’t want to look back on life and think “If only I…”
The time to move is now.
Last night I was smothered with messages of support from friends. Why? I admitted that I cannot say goodbye and decided to no show on my goodbye party. Although most of them were shocked — a few of them understood. Truth be told, I was likely scared.
This week it hit me… I am moving… and starting over. Sure I’ve said those words all summer, but now it is real. Last week I packed everything I owned. This week I cleaned up my involvements in Calgary (health appointments, mail, etc) and visited with a few families that have been integral to my life. Last night my anxiety over moving turned into tears. I cried and cried and cried. When I stopped crying, someone texted me and triggered something to make me cry. People called and I pressed ignore. I was a total emotional basketcase. Finally my best guy friend calls and brought me back to the non-crazy person planet (oh and he totally doesn’t deal well with crying).
So why the tears?
The people that have come into my life over the past 8 years – and especially the ones that are still here today – I consider family. Over the last 8 years, I have travelled all over the world. Not once have I been homesick… friendsick though? Too many times to count. I have been blessed to have a solid group of friends in Calgary. People that I look up to and truly aspire to be like. People that have acted as family on holidays when I couldn’t go back to the island. People that have held my hand at doctor’s appointments and given me a hug at the worst of times. People that understand both give and take and the importance of being a good friend.
My fear is that the distance created by going away will mean goodbye. We’re all busy. We all have our own shit going on and it’s easy to forget. I worry that these incredible people will intentionally or unintentionally fall out of my life.
[Seriously... I don't recommend heading down that path in your brain. It doesn't end well.]
The thought of going to a going away party last night to say goodbye to people I love and respect so much absolutely rattled me. I was immediately overwhelmed and decided I couldn’t do it. No matter how much I told myself that it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later… I imagined it would be goodbye. I tried to tell myself that everything happens for a reason and if these people do fall out of my life… they were supposed to. I tried to peer pressure myself into going, to keep everything else happy. Ultimately I decided that I wasn’t ready.
[I know... we're running out of time.]
I spent last night reflecting on my time in Calgary — the good, the bad, but most importantly what I learned.
My friends are full of life, laughter and love — and yes, sometimes frustration. :) At the end of the day, I am grateful for the moments we have had together and the memories we have shared. I am grateful that we continually push each other to be better versions of ourselves. I could go on and on about our times together, or I could list every single one’s names, but instead I want all of you to know how thankful I am.
Whether it be out of control laughter or 2am alcohol-soaked tears, all of our memories have shaped us into who we are today. I have had more fun that I could have ever imagined:
Girls Night Out at the Whiskey - 2004
Halloween House Party - 2004
Europe - 2005
My Birthday at Melrose - 2006
Scotiabank Best of The Best Party - 2006
Random Night at Melissa's Condo - 2007
Mexico - 2007
My Housewarming Party - 2007
Jane's Birthday at Amsterdam Rhino - 2007
Jessica's Birthday in Banff - 2007
The City of Calgary United Way Fundraiser - 2007
Anti-Valentine's Day / Girls Weekend in Canmore - 2008
Dominican - 2008
Melissa's Birthday Party - 2008
Beach Day at Sikome Lake - 2008
Kid Day - 2008
Christmas - 2008
Luau at Darryl's House - 2009
Sun + Salsa Festival - 2009
Vegas - 2009
WorldSkills - 2009
80's Party in Banff - 2009
Vancouver - 2009
Halloween Party at Darryl's House - 2009
Africa - 2009
Karaoke Night at Ducky's - 2009
Hawaii - 2010
New York City - 2010
My Birthday at WEST (and the C-train Station) - 2010
Napa Valley - 2010
Felicity's Stagette in Banff - 2010
Lily's Birthday at WEST - 2010
Kid Night - 2010
Vancouver - 2010
Japan - 2010
Belize - 2011
Dove Commercial in Toronto - 2011
California – 2011
My Birthday at 1410 - 2011
There is a lot of truth to the statement:
“You never know how great your friends are until you have to say goodbye and leave them.”
Moving to a new city will be my opportunity to press reset, an opportunity to truly find myself again.
My friends will not be forgotten, instead they will be favorited — like a sticky note. More often than not, they will be top of mind, no different then they were when we lived in the same city.
Calgary will not be forgotten, instead it will be archived — put on black and white film.
I have no idea if Vancouver is the right move. I have no idea if I will love it there.
I do know that I am prepared to take a risk.
I do know that I am prepared to give this my best shot.
I lead a blessed life and for the good and the bad – I am grateful.
Welcome Chapter 3. I’m ready for the next adventure.
With a heavy heart. xo