Reflections Relocating

In Search of Stability

Credit: Bao Pham /

Last night, I was on the phone to my friend whilst I was pottering about unpacking my apartment, and he said:

“Have you taken anything? You’ve not been happy like this without meds in a while”

(To clarify, I have strong painkillers because of wrenching my shoulder in February – which is still causing me pain)

I hadn’t taken anything. I just feel semi-settled and un-rushed for the first time in 3 months. And I feel guilty, because I worry I’ve been complaining about my life when my life is awesome.

Oh no, I got my dream job and I have to move to a cool new city. Damn life is hard. Wow, I met so many cool people in Ottawa that I have to actually spend time with them before I go. Sucks to be me. Why are people continually presenting great opportunities to me? How frickin’ unreasonable are they?

If you’ve wanted to give me a good shaking lately, I totally empathize. I kinda want to give last-week-me a good shaking too.

Change is hard. At the Risk Taking Workshop at GHC, Dee talks about people’s change cycles. Most people were about 2 years. I came it at 6 months.

Perhaps I like change more than most, but the process of changing I find stressful. So I do things like book a flight to Canada and move with a week’s notice because my visa finally arrived. Or make a snap decision to give up my apartment because it was bought and I realized I wasn’t getting a TA. These things drag me, kicking and screaming, through the change process and then I sit in my new apartment, surrounded by boxes, and think,

Why on earth was I getting so worked up about that?

And then I make it work. So far, it’s always been fine. I’ve only been in KW a few days, but I know I’m going to be fine here too.

Maggie is a 3rd culture kid, and so something we had in common and talked about this summer is this feeling of not quite belonging anywhere, and not really knowing where home is. I’m from the UK, but for a number of reasons (many political) I can’t see myself going back there. Brits think I sound Canadian. Canadians think I sound British. Canada has been good to me, but I don’t think I can live permanently in North America – I find it too homogeneous, and miss the culture and diversity of Europe. How you can get on a plane and get off an hour later somewhere with different food, different values, different language…

Feeling that life is in a permanent state of flux, it’s easy to seek out something stable to cling to. A popular way to do that is with a relationship – because it seems like a binary variable, 0 or 1. So you set that bit. And then discover there are any of a million states your relationship can be in, some which add to your stability… and many that do not. For me, I have never wanted to buy an apartment so much as when my ex was making me miserable.

If I feel the need for stability, I think the thing to do is recognize why. Some new stress or something unknown? Is it just hard to be in a new place? Realizing this, I’m trying to find my stability somewhere else.

PHiZZ Unit Color-Change Variation
Credit: flickr / tomster0

In little things, like being a regular at a favourite restaurant or coffee shop, or the Clinique counter (leaving the Clinique counter at Sears in the Rideau caused me much devastation). In routine – gym first thing, or (currently) work in coffee shop in the morning, errands in the afternoon, unpack in the evening.

In bigger things – like good friends that stay constant wherever you live, in doing what I love.

When these fail, a trip “home” reminds me why I left in the first place.

Since I’m staying on a work visa, people keep asking me if I’m staying “permenantly” – I joke that I don’t stay anywhere permanently. Being a bit of a nomad has some challenges, but ultimately I love the adventure. The stress of the process of change I find hard, but the thrill of making it work – that makes it all worthwhile.

4 replies on “In Search of Stability”

I loved this part “When these fail, a trip “home” reminds me why I left in the first place.” ha ha ha … hope you settle down asap and good luck googling …

miss u here,

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