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I've spent my whole life living close enough to my family and friends, that when something comes up I can always be there. Normally a few hours or so drive away, but nothing that required any real planning in order to drop what was going on and rush to someone's side if needed. Hell, I remember when my little sister (who is actually my cousin but that's another story for another day) ended up in the hospital and my brother drove me at 3 am across the province to get to her as fast as I could.
When you move across the country that ability isn't as simple. When people call you for coffee dates you can't simply hop on a plane and be there in a few hours (unless of course, you make six figures or more a year). When family or friends call you to say they're having a baby or getting married, you can't just rush over to congratulate them. You no longer have the ability to attend last minute functions or gatherings. Hell, sometimes you don't even have the ability to go functions like Christmas Dinner.
When it costs $700 or more to fly "home" you become unable to be as involved in the lives of your family and friends. You have to plan for months beforehand to be able to make the trip if needed and it almost always means sacrificing something else in order to do so (a lesson that hit me very hard Dec 2015, but that's a blog post for another day).
This was a harsh reality for me to learn after coming out here. I, like most people, have taken my proximity to my family for granted. I've always assumed my friends were around when I needed a hug or when they needed to chat. I've never really appreciated that proximity. However, coming out here changed that. In fact, it changed a lot more than just my proximity.
Part of the reason I made the decision to make such a drastic move was because I needed to change my life. I didn't know how or even what needed to change, I just knew something had to. I had gotten stuck in a life that I had built, but it wasn't the life I wanted anymore. I knew the only way to change things was for me to do something that forced me to change. Something that forced me to try something I had not done before. Something that would help me figure out just what it was that I really wanted out of life.
It was exactly what I needed. I came out here hoping to gain something, at the time I wasn't even sure what that would be. I didn't know how things would change or improve, or even if they would, I just had faith that no matter what happened I would be okay. I would figure it out and hopefully find some answers.
I did find answers, I found way more than just answers. I found parts of me that I wasn't even sure were me before I left. I found parts of me I had no idea were missing. I found self-confidence and a voice I didn't know I had.
I've spent my whole life running to help people when I can. Giving up whatever I need to in order to help those I care about, in part because it was expected of me and I knew that. However a large part of me always wanted to help, to do what I could to make others happy. Coming out here, being this far away from those that I care about, it's taught me that I don't need to be the person that drops everything (unless I choose to and can afford to) and goes running. I've learned that people are understanding of the fact that I can't always be there for a coffee date, a surprise wedding, a birthday party or even a crisis. I've found love for those I care about and from those who care about me. A deeper connection with people who I took for granted before I left. People like my dad who, before I came out here, I only called once or twice a year. Sure we texted sometimes and saw each other a half a dozen times a year but because he was only a few hours away I never really made it a priority to check in with him. To let him check in with me. Now we text all the time, we FaceTime once every two weeks. We know more about each others lives now than we ever have before. I'm grateful for that. I'm not sure I would have had that if I hadn't made the choice to come out here. My appreciation for my parents in general has grown since coming out here. I value them more now than I ever did before coming here. I value the things they were able to give me, teach me and the things they couldn't give me so much more than I would have under different circumstances.
I've found that the people who really care about you will go out of their way (even if only for 20 minutes during a layover in Toronto) to come and say hi. Even though the airport is 2 hours from where they live. Just to be able to see you face to face and give you a hug in person. I've found such a deep connection with the people I care about that my soul weeps when I hang up the phone or hug them goodbye in an airport. I've learned to embrace that part of me that feels more deeply than I can't even express in words for those who I care about. I've learned to let myself cry when I feel the need to (even if that's at a TSA checkpoint at the airport).
I've learned to be "UNAPOLOGETICALLY" myself, emotions and all, because as a friend told me right before coming out here, "You can't ever be sorry for being who you intrinsically are." It wasn't an easy lesson to learn. In fact, life has been trying to teach me that lesson since I was 12 years old. It took me years to learn it, but this past year, while in Dublin, alone at 5 am sitting on a park bench, I finally accepted and embraced it (while crying in a park).
You see there are a lot of downsides to being so far away from those who you love and care about. However, there is also this amazing thing called perspective that you end up gaining. Perspective about who you are, who you want to be and who you value in life. I have such a huge appreciation for the people in my life. For who they really are as people, it's been more of a blessing than a downside coming out here. I guess what I'm trying to say is even though I called this post "The Downside To Living Across The Country", it really should have been called "The Fantastic Things You Learn When You Move Across The Country".
I have a new perspective on so many things now. I actually appreciate winters back home in Southern Ontario (something that I don't think most people will understand). I value good customer service so much more now than I ever did before (this is a big deal if you know me because I've always expected a high level of customer service from people because I've worked in customer service my whole life). I understand so much more of myself now that I barely recognize who I used to be. Life has this amazing way of teaching us who we are by showing us contrasts. I'm grateful for the contrasts this move has brought me. I'm grateful for the ability to grow and change everyday because I had the courage to make a huge leap of faith and trust in myself. I'm grateful to be surrounded by people who love and respect me. People who I love and respect. I'm grateful for the new people I meet all the time, from around the world.
I'm grateful for the amazing life I have now. I'm grateful to be able to live this amazing life that I chose.