I have certainly written enough posts over the past year laced with apprehension and anxiety.
Stepping back in time twelve months, there was still a big question mark over if and when we were moving abroad, which led to the feeling of being unsettled. End of January we got the go ahead, which meant February was a blur of panic to get ready. By the time we landed in Toronto early March it was a bit of a ‘Crikey, we are here’ moment. ‘What do we do now?’
It’s fair to say 2016 had its challenges in more ways than one. Both on a personal level – plus the world seemed to be going a little mad! I will admit I didn’t immediately love living in Toronto, or being an expat. I found I looked at everything through very different glasses – as someone who moved somewhere to live, opposed to visiting somewhere. Maybe this made me more analytical than I would be otherwise.
For instance, I visited New York over Christmas and absolutely loved it. But I know if I had gone there to live, as someone who is not generally a ‘big city’ person, I probably would have reacted very differently (to the crowds, the prices, and the lack of supermarkets!)
Things like being in a big city, and not being able to pop to see friends and family at the weekend bothered me way more than I expected. I also found being stuck in career limbo, not really being able to progress or move forward, or essentially carry on where I left off in England, way more of an issue than I believed I would before I left. As someone who is usually quite sociable, I have also found it harder to make new friends than I originally thought which has been a confidence knock.
That said, one thing is for sure. I definitely do not regret moving away. I would always have that niggle of ‘what if’ if I’d never have tried it. And even now as 2017 begins, I’m still not really sure what the correct path is. Expat life has not been a perfect fit for me and therefore I have to start entertaining the idea that maybe the right decision is to leave earlier than anticipated (rather than the end date my VISA tells me). Even then, the idea of going home is just as scary as staying!
Anyway, I guess that brings me on to the point of this post, and one of my new year’s resolutions. Yes this last year has been a challenge, but I want to be able to focus on the positives.
- Seeing new places
One of the main reasons we moved abroad in the first place was the opportunity to explore new places. We’ve so far covered a few well known destinations, but have also had the chance to see less well-known places that we probably would have never come across had we not been living in Toronto.
- Challenge Yourself
There are positive and negative connotations to the word ‘challenge’ – and I definitely experienced a fair bit of negative emotion surrounding some of the challenges 2016 threw at me. However, a challenge can overall be a positive experience. You can’t fail at a challenge, only grow as a person and become stronger.
Throughout 2016, I was worried I was failing at the whole living abroad thing. That I wasn’t having enough fun, or going on enough adventures, or making friends quick enough. It felt like these things were more difficult than they were supposed to be. I became so gripped by my need to not fail – and it is so easy to get lost in that and stop understanding the positives.
But now I look on the challenges with a sense of pride, and know that even if I go home tomorrow it is not a failure. I have spent a year pushing myself out of my comfort zone and trying something new. That is something I can look back on with positivity.
- Getting to know the quirks of a new city/ new country!
There are several things I still find amusing about life in Canada – such as milk being sold in bags, unnecessarily large gaps in toilet doors and how there are at least four different payment methods on the subway, one which results in a scratch-card style day pass.
You really get to know the Ins and outs of a city so much better living somewhere vs. being a tourist.
There are the obvious attractions in Toronto, like the CN tower or the Toronto Islands. Yet it’s nice to have the time to visit some less advertised spots. An afternoon can be well spent simply walking along one of Toronto’s many trails, such as the Kay Gardiner Belt Line.
- Being more creative again
One of my targets last year was to start doing creative things again. So I am really pleased to have created this blog, and I am reading again all the time. I always have a book on the go and I love it!
Although I haven’t managed to keep up this blog as much as I would’ve liked, I’m happy it’s still ticking over. I still get the burst of excitement whenever I get a ‘like’ or a new blog follower. Plus it’s given me a platform from which to do more writing.
I’ve finally pushed myself into signing up to a writing group/ class starting next Saturday. I’m nervous about giving up half of my weekends for the next few months, but excited nonetheless.
- Seeing the seasons
My favourite thing about Toronto is the seasons. I know I’ve said it before, but just to have proper, defined seasons is so nice.
A new year always brings a time for reflection. Thank you to readers who’ve stuck by me through 2016 – and welcome anyone new!
Finally, Happy New Year!