If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that a few weeks ago, I visited Toronto. It was a great opportunity to get back to familiar places and experiences and to see so many of the people I miss. I had familiar food, found myself in familiar haunting grounds (and even in some unfamiliar ones too) and I learnt a lot about myself. It’s always said that you cannot truly see a situation until you step out of it – and that’s exactly what happened. So, instead of telling you where I went and what I ate and did, I decided to tell you about the lessons I learnt from my visit to Toronto.
A few days after I returned to London, I found so many different memes and sayings online on friends’ Instagram profiles or Facebook profiles that put sort of put a full stop on my thoughts about where I am in life and what my life outlook should be. The first was “You are exactly where you need to be”. The next was “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain”. I find it slightly amusing that I’m depending on quotes now, because if you presented quotes on anything to me a few years ago, I would never have been one to truly pay attention to them. These two, however, are so apt for my life right now and the troubling thoughts that have been flying through my head, that I have to pay attention to them.
The first one, “You are exactly where you need to be”, is exactly what I needed to hear. This is because the entire time I’ve been living here, I’ve always had at the back of my mind “I need to go back to Toronto”. The problem with thoughts like this is that it keeps you in limbo. You are never happy where you are, not sure if any of your decisions should or could be permanent – and that leads to a sort of fluidity through your life that keeps you unsure of your decisions and actions. It leads to indecision and dissatisfaction – and those two things can drive a person crazy.
While I was in Toronto, I realized, yes, I loved it there, but I’m a lot more British than I thought I was (already!!) and that Toronto may not be a place I could go back to. We want to buy a house eventually, and after speaking to quite a few different friends who have either just bought or who are looking to buy in the Greater Toronto Area, I’m not sure we’ll be able to afford to buy when/if we go back by the time we’re ready to go back. Even if we’re earning in British pounds but spending in Canadian dollar. Britain is just a more realistic choice at this point in time. Britain is where I have the opportunities to make my career soar. Britain is where I am and is exactly where I need to be right now.
The second quote, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain”, is really just an extension to that and is basically something I believe all expats need to learn to live by. Take your surroundings and all the advantages and disadvantages of it, wherever you are, and do the best you can with it. To live an expat life, you have to find joy in your surroundings and live your life in the best manner you can. So embrace the differences in culture and choose to live rather than wallow in misery, waiting for your chance to go back where you came from. Another reason not to do that – is that the place that you came from will not be that wonderful place in your head after you leave….in the same manner that we, as human beings, constantly morph and change, so do the places we reside.
Unfortunately the trip back to Toronto also taught me some hard lessons. When I visit places where I know a lot of people (ie. Trinidad, and now, Toronto), I tend to pick and choose who I’m going to see. This is because I can’t possibly fit the whole world into a week. This time, I did just that but then I actually notified more people than I should have – leaving me with very little “wandering on my own time”. I’m not complaining because most of those dinners and girlfriend dates were brilliant, in fact, all were brilliant….unfortunately, the company I chose was not as brilliant as I had expected. It just reminded me that people that you believe are your great friends are often not – and to choose who you keep near to you carefully. If a person does not make you feel good inside or doubt yourself – then perhaps that person is not someone who will contribute to your well being and perhaps you should take them out of your life. After all, you’re the only one who can control who you let close to you.
I think those were my main “revelations” from my trip, but because I know you guys are visual, and because I know you still want to know what I actually did in TO, here is a whirlwind tour of my trip via a few photos! What does one do when they visit Toronto after two years or so?…..well…
Eat familiar foods….
Visit familiar places and see familiar scenes…(.even though it always amazes me how fluid the world is. It changes so drastically in so little time – you just never notice until you leave for a while and return….)
See familiar faces….and even meet some new ones!
All in all, my visit to Toronto was an enjoyable learning experience and I loved the familiarity of it, but it’s also taught me to be happy where I am, in London, and by seeing this as my permanent abode with the Luv Luv, I’ve managed to break through the wall that was holding me back from thriving here. For that I’m eternally grateful. So thank you for the lessons, the familiarity and the love Toronto, you’ll always have a special place in my heart.