Settling in doesn’t have to mean settling

After years of living in a bacheloresque apartment for fear of committing to this city, I finally realized that nesting and giving up were not the same thing…

So here’s the thing… I love Vancouver. Vancouver is my home. But at the same time, I have never been able to help thinking that I actually want to live somewhere else. I have lived in other cities, and I have loved it, and my dream has always been to move away to somewhere that I imagine to be more cosmopolitan, more fast-paced, more interesting than Vancouver. I have always sort of felt that I don’t fit here. And so, while living in this city, I have always felt a strange limbo, where my physicality was here, but my heart was looming out on the edges somewhere else.

So how did this manifest? Well, it manifested in me living in an apartment that I felt really lukewarm about for many years. It also manifested in me never really investing any time/money into said apartment because I was worried that this meant that I had given up on my dream of moving away. Somewhere, somehow, my brain had decided that committing to paint and a couch meant that I was committing to a 10 year lease.

On the career side of my life, while scouring job boards in other cities, I was also working a full-time job here, but on a million teeny tiny contracts as a ‘casual’ worker so that if need be I could still leave at any moment.

Basically, I set up my life so that if at any point I needed to drop everything for my dream job in New York, I could easily do so  with less than a month’s notice and not have any messy contracts to get out of, and also not really have that much stuff that I needed to get rid of to leave the city. To be fair… I DID have an interview for a dreamy job in New York at one point… and in that case, I would have actually had to leave at a moment’s notice… but that was only one interview. One interview. In four years.

So here I was talking about how much I hate my apartment, and talking about the uneasiness of my job, and doing this FOR YEARS because I was afraid of committing to one thing, only here I was just committing by default to things that were not serving my well-being in any way shape or form*

Then I went through a weird breakup. It was my first breakup in YEARS (though it was pretty minor), and it completely catapulted me into the mode of “ok, missy. Time to get your life together.”

I took the plunge, and one month later, I was giving notice at my shitty apartment of 4 years. Let me tell you, giving notice for a cheap giant one bedroom that allows cats (also sketchy, on a loud street in a bleh neighbourhood) is no feat to take lightly. It was terrifying. What if I just did not find any place to live? What if I only found somewhere SHITTIER for MORE MONEY? What if I had to move out to the suburbs? WHAT IF?!?!

After many a sleepless, panic-stricken night, and anxious days filled with calls and emails to every apartment posting within a 20 km radius of where I ACTUALLY wanted to live… I DID find an apartment. It was not my DREAM apartment, and it was also more expensive than I would have liked, but it was about a million steps better than the one I had before, and the moment that I brought the last box out moving truck, I knew that it was home. And you know what? After having lived there for about two weeks, it LOOKED like home. Two weeks! And it was more of a home than my old apartment of 4 years had ever been. Why? Because I decided to commit.

Two weeks later, I accepted a new job. A permanent one. Which, again.. is not my magical dream job love of my life, but it is better than the job that I had before and it’s a place that I can really sink my teeth into without having to worry about relentless contract renewal and piecing together projects just to justify my existence.

So what have I learned here? Well, committing to something doesn’t mean that you can never ever have another thing that you want ever again. Do I still want to live in New York one day? Yes. I sure do. But can my experience living in Vancouver be a whole heck of a lot better while I’m working towards making that happen? Yes. It sure can. So here I am now, in a home that I love, though I know it’s not forever. And not committing to this city forever, but at least committing to it for the time that I’m here.

THE END.

*disclaimer while my job WAS a variety of tiny contracts, it was also incredibly interesting and satisfying in many ways. I actually learned a whole heck of a lot. It just was not a place where any kind of real LONG-TERM growth was going to happen for me career-wise. Plus… contracts. Yeesh.

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