Why I Won’t Return to Toronto

Leaving town but will come back to rock it!

Leaving town but will come back to rock it! (This was a photo close to when I left Toronto to travel)

So I’ve been off living in Thailand for more than a year and was traveling for 15 months before that all around Asia. I haven’t worked since before I left Toronto. I went to the Travel Blog Exchange held in Toronto in May 2013 and was already planning to evac my way out of Toronto.

Don’t get me wrong, in the 6 years I lived in Toronto I learned quickly to love the city, while many people bemoan the TTC for me coming from Windsor, ON where the only option was really having a car just being able to not having to buy one was a huge plus. I was able to volunteer for TIFF for several years, met some of the most amazing people and got involved in a lot of events and groups over my time in the GTA.

The thing is besides the one year I went back to school and a year or so of working in various capacities I was usually out job hunting and failing constantly. When I went back to school I ended up going into advertising at the worst time just before the economic crisis hit so that when I was looking for work it was nowhere to be found.

Then I started writing articles for a website or two and this would continues almost up until I left but I was rarely paid and the litany of interviews that went through was epic. So as I’ve traveled for so long you can’t help but think about what you could have done differently.

I wonder if I were to return would anything change. I hope that because I have changed my view and my perspective would mean instead of seeing a job as my only option it would be one of many. I used to think about a job as part of my sense of self-worth and that was personally very destructive because the longer I went without a job the more I felt the weight of my personal and professional failure.

So what I have learned is that my value isn’t defined simply by what I do for a living but what I choose to do with my time and why. For that question I choose to write, to focus my time on a universe I created because of a love of all the “what ifs” that are possible.

When I was in Toronto I lived as cheap as I could, I had help from my awesome family but for most of it I just my spending low and this had repercussions in my friendships, relationships and how I saw myself. This has only been magnified as I’ve traveled. There are weeks where I spent a lot and months where I’ve lived off just a few dollars a day.

It is easy to get comfortable even in your own misery and self-doubt which is something I continue to battle. I got used to sheltering myself from others out of my shame. I still find myself doing that now but the difference is it isn’t out of shame and more to save and focus on my reading and writing.

At the moment now I have 3 missions, they are totally different but are about the same thing:

1. Do a muay thai fight before I leave Thailand (To me this is about my battle against fear and my self-imposed limits)

2. Write a story (I have many ideas for this but this is my K2 to climb)

3. Continue to travel around the world (No way am I ready to say goodbye to the wander lust)

Nowhere in any of these missions is there mention of a job, a job is a means to continue my wandering but it isn’t the goal. I want to work if it is a place I can contribute and in looking back at my time in Toronto I can’t see myself there. Could I go back, yeah and I know it wouldn’t be the same because I am not the same, who I am, how I see myself and what I am after are completely different which is a

I don’t want to depend on a job for my fiscal well-being in the future, when I think about why I left not just Toronto but Canada it was because I was running away from my failure. I needed to leave so I could be free to explore who I was and that is something I continue to do every day.

Now I see it as I started out running away but that was before I got to the horizon and saw that it wasn’t running away, I was running towards something else. In this case I am running towards the challenge of the fight, of telling stories and of reaching for my best self. Sometimes you think why would I return when I wake to this every morning.

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I want to go back to Toronto not sure if to live or what but at least to reflect on the amazing times I had, the people I met and the challenges (or failures) that helped prepare me to reach for the summit no matter the outcome.

I often wonder about what I’d be doing if I was still I’m Toronto I would like to think I’d have a career but then I have to stop myself from looking at the “what if” of my life and focus on the “what if” within the story I seek to write. I knew I was leaving Toronto for awhile, I love the city but I had a lot of hard times but I want to remember all the good, lessons learned, friends I met and the setbacks.

If I go back to Canada it will not be in Windsor or Toronto, probably more likely out west and who knows if that is where I’ll end up because I am open to living anywhere at this point. When you realize how big the world is, you see how small it can be at the same time because of the Internet and technology so I am going to try my hand at self publishing, maybe do some digital work on the side and see what happens as I go.

So I will come visit Toronto but I like not knowing what will happen, I am learning to take things as they come, to be open to new possibilities and not be stuck thinking about the world in the safe way. I will see you Toronto, just not anytime soon.