July 23rd marked my six months in Canada.
That’s about that’s about 25 weeks, 181 days, 4,344 hours since I left my family and friends and chased a dream I’ve had since I was a kid. Six months isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things. It isn’t a serious relationship, or a baby growing into a toddler, or a successful marriage, or long-term job, but for me this is my first big milestone in my new life and I’ve never been happier.
In the past six months I’ve met some amazing new friends, I’ve seen some beautiful places, tried things I have always wanted to and learned a lot about self-acceptance along the way.
So, in saying that, I thought I’d compile a list of some of the biggest things to note about the first half of my year away from home:
1) It never gets easier to leave people behind, even if what you’re doing is something you really want. Having family close to you is always going to be a comfort, and while I am super close and very blessed to have my family in Canada who are a constant source of love and support, it is one of the hardest things in the world for me to be so far from my Mum and Dad. Not being able to call round and see them for a coffee whenever I feel like a chat is difficult to overcome, and lacking that is probably one of the things that makes my decision about staying here a little wobbly.
2) People always say it, for so many situations: you learn who your true friends are. When I was sick, I learned who my true friends were, when I moved away for university and had a shitty time, I learned who my true friends were. When my Grandma died, I learned who my true friends were. When my boyfriend hurt me, I learned who my true friends were. When I was lost and just needed someone to drink a bottle of wine with and vent, I learned who my true friends were. Moving to a new country is no different. We’re so lucky these days to have such fast and efficient communication routes, so that no matter where in the world we are, we can talk to our friends at the touch of a button. But even that ease isn’t enough for some people, and many instances where I felt I was keeping friendships afloat, have become more apparent than ever. That isn’t necessarily a negative thing though, all it has done is solidified those friendships that mean the most. Good friendships are sacred; look after ‘em.
3) While we’re on the subject of friendships, I’ve also realised that just because I haven’t known someone since my teen years, doesn’t mean that they aren’t or won’t become best friends. In my time here I’ve met lots of very cool people, and a good handful of very special people. Within that handful, I knew the minute I met some of them, that we were going to be good friends. This lot, they haven’t known me for that long, and there is still a lot about each other that we have to learn. But I can feel it, the universe; it’s pulled us together for a reason. They’ve been there for me already, and I will be there for them. The universe works in a mysterious, magical way like that. Sometimes you meet people and you just know, you know that there was always a plan for you guys to be best buds. It feels refreshing and wonderful to welcome new, positive energy into my circle.
4) Trying new things is super cool. This year I finally got round to throwing away concerns about what everyone else thinks and picking up a skateboard. I haven’t looked back since. Man, not only is skating fun, but it’s improved my confidence and given me so many opportunities. It’s helped me meet some amazing people, some really great friends, travel to some wicked places and even gave me the chance to get some of my writing published in two super cool magazines. You can check the articles out at UK zine Hangup Online and at Canadian magazine KingShit.
5) I love peanut butter, ginger ale, iced coffee, ranch dressing and Triscuits.
6) Self-love it super important and super cool. I spent years surrounded by a toxic cloud of self-hatred. Being stuck in the same old place, doing the same thing every day gave me zero motivation to change my mind-set. I didn’t look after my mental health and didn’t even think it was possible to like myself. Instead I was sucked into the disgusting cycle of self-comparison: Instagram posts, before and after pics, diet tips, the social media lives we all paint for ourselves (me included) dulling my own perception of reality. Since I’ve been in a new place, I have gained a new sense of strength and recalibrated self-identity. I think it shows. I’m happier all of the time, and even on down days it’s not a struggle to pull myself out of it, and that rubs off on other people. I’ve never found it so easy to get on with people or to relate. Positivity comes from within; sometimes you just have to get a change of perspective to really see it.
7) If you’re English everyone’s going to ask if you’re from London, or about London, or something to do with London. Or they’ll ask you to talk like a roadman, or rap like Skepta, or about tea. I’m from the North East, which automatically lands me in the Scottish, Irish or Australian box. Occasionally Liverpool… Well, I guess that’s the right country at least (lol).
7) Nature is magical. Even more than I ever realised. I always thought it was cool, but so far I’ve seen so much here. I’ve seen the land change from icing sugar white, piles of snow up to my knees and temperatures lower than I’ve ever imagined; to gorgeous sun kissed skin, dragonflies buzzing above the lake I stood on in winter and throwing myself from the pontoon boat into the gorgeous water below. I’ve seen the moon and sun collide at sunset, sending streaks of burning amber and cerise pink across the sky. I’ve seen the stars dancing on a black, velvet backdrop above the pine trees. I’ve smelled burning wood and cinnamon buns and rain in the forest and the smell of lakeshore.
8)Change is scary, but change is good.