Some people never leave the small town they grew up in and others are absolutely dying to leave by the time they throw their high school graduation hats in the air. I was born in the big city of Toronto and have never left – not for university or grad school or the beginning of my 20s. Reactions to this fact range from understanding (Toronto is a cool city and lots of people move here) to incredulous (usually from guys who lived halfway across the country). It’s definitely interesting being a grown-up in the place you literally grew up in, but I’ve learned a lot from staying put.
- Your friendships will change every few years. I seem to pick up new friends with whatever new thing I do. I’ve long stopped talking to most people from high school or university, but have friends from a grad program I dropped out of, a grad program I stayed in, and a part-time job. Maybe it’s living in a big city and not a super small town, but my friends and I met later in life, not because our moms were friends or we lived on the same street. It’s interesting how my friendships have changed but it’s also fun to have some newer relationships.
- You don’t have to stay the same person forever. Just because you still live in the city or even neighborhood you were a kid in doesn’t mean you’re the exact same person. Don’t be afraid to grow and change, try new experiences, meet new people.
- Most people didn’t grow up the way you did. It’s easy to assume that everyone had a similar childhood or are just as close with their parents as you are, but that’s just not the case. Toronto may be my hometown, but it’s still a massive city and most people I meet come from small towns or even other countries. They bring vastly different backgrounds and experiences to the city, and that’s a good thing. It’s super boring to only meet people exactly like you.
- Your fave places will someday be gone. The area I lived in during my childhood is now totally changed. All the charming shops have been replaced by big-box stores, banks and condos. My all-time fave bar’s days are numbered as a developer is changing the landscape of the street (along with the super famous Toronto landmark Honest Ed’s). Change is a fact of life, but that doesn’t make it any less sad.
- You can still move out. I went to college here, but still “left” home by moving into a dorm. I’ve lived in several apartments since. Just because you’ve stayed in your hometown and haven’t gone away to school doesn’t mean you can’t have that exciting experience of living on your own.
- It’s OK to like the comfort and safety of home. From a young age, we’re taught that to be truly successful we have to move far away from the place we grew up in, but that’s just not true. You can be successful any way that you choose. Maybe you went away to college and happily returned, and you’re super cool with staying exactly where you are. Don’t let anyone judge you and don’t judge yourself, either.
- You can still reinvent yourself. You don’t have to move to be a new person. You can change your hair, your clothes, your apartment, your career, your friend group. You have the chance for total reinvention every single time you meet a new guy or new potential BFF. That’s pretty cool.
- Your friends will leave and sometimes come back. I know lots of people who swore they’d never leave and are now living in different places, just like I have a good friend who moved back to her hometown… and came back literally a month later. As long as you go with the flow and don’t necessarily expect people to always stay, you can make it work.
- One day you could wake up and be over it. Over the past few months I’ve had this sinking feeling that I needed to make a big life change. Then I woke up one morning and decided to move to a new city. Now I’m in the planning stages of making a big move and couldn’t be more excited. The city I grew up in will always be home, and I don’t for a second regret any of the people I’ve met or experiences I’ve had in my 26 years there. But a new dream is calling me and I’m so happy to answer it.