In 2015, Andrel was finishing up his diploma program at Seneca College in Toronto. I was finishing up my Master’s program in Michigan with plans to return to Toronto after graduation. Our original plan was to look for jobs in Toronto, the place we were both born and raised. However, Andrel had a few options including a position at the City of Edmonton. After weighing out his options, we decided the opportunity with the City of Edmonton was the best opportunity for him to get a head start on his career. So in May 2015, Andrel moved across the country to start his job at the City of Edmonton. The plan was I would move forward with looking for a job in Toronto and Andrel would work in Edmonton for two to three years to get some experience then move back to Toronto.
But again, life had different plans. I graduated in August 2015 and I immediately started looking for a job. Despite sending out a million and one resumes, I couldn’t find a job in Toronto. I couldn’t even land an interview. Then in May 2016, I accepted a free lance job to write about the Adventist Church’s response to the Fort McMurray fires. I flew out to Alberta, happy to be making a few dollars and glad to see Andrel in between interviews. The funny thing is, my article interview with ADRA Canada turned into a job interview and I was offered a job on the spot. We’ve both been living in Alberta ever since.It’s been almost four years for Andrel and three years for me since we left Toronto to pursue greener pastures. Choosing to go to school in Alberta and choosing to work in Alberta are two very different things. Going to school in Alberta meant spending seven to eight months here, but spending four to five months back at home. Living and working in Alberta means spending 11 to 12 months here and two to three weeks in Toronto (if we’re lucky).
Social media is a good thing and a bad thing. It’s an amazing thing because I can keep in touch with family and friends, but it can be a horrible thing because I can keep in touch with family and friends. I’ve seen photos and videos of friends getting together and family spending time together on social media while I sat in my living room in my house in Alberta with Andrel watching Netflix. Seeing posts don’t bother me most weekends. But then there are some weekends where the loneliness hits me like a tonne of bricks. Sometimes it’s hard to see how much you’re missing out. It was especially hard when we first moved out here and we didn’t have too many friends to hang out with. Being home on a Saturday night while everyone you knew back home were together spending the evening together was not fun.
When I went home for Christmas last December, I went to brunch with a few of my girlfriends from high school. We sat in that restaurant for three to four hours until we were the last people in the restaurant that they had to kick out. As we headed out to the parking lot saying our goodbyes, they began to make plans for a game night in the next few weeks. Out of the five of us there, I was the only one working far away from home. They would see each other in a couple of weeks; I would see all of them again in a year’s time.
I think this is the hardest thing to deal with when moving away from home. It’s that fear of missing out. I do believe it’s the number one reason why people hesitate to move away from home. Who’s crazy enough to move to a place where they have no family or friends?
I guess we are. *shrug*
The hidden blessing in all of this is: We may only see our family and friends back home once a year nowadays, but the time we do spend with them is always memorable. We might be missing out on some moments, memories, maybe even milestones. But we remind ourselves of the bigger picture and we make great use of our time whenever we are home in Toronto. Whenever I get together with my friends, it’s always so incredibly grounding. We could literally talk for hours without running out of things to talk about; We always end up shutting down the restaurant. Andrel and I find ourselves so busy whenever we go home because we try our best to see everyone in that short period of time. We’re much more intentional with how we spend our time and who we spend our time with. It adds a different dimension of gratitude. Whenever I visit home and see everyone, I find myself extremely grateful for the people in my life: for my family and my friends.