On August 19th I celebrated the 1 year anniversary of moving into the house I currently reside in. From August 15th to the 19th I traveled the TransCanada train to get to Vancouver from my home in Toronto. While not my first day living in Vancouver (I moved out to Vancouver for university the previous year), the house that I live in has become the safe space my life needed. It is a home filled with interesting and amazing people, and it really changed my attitude towards people, and how to live life. Leaving the house you grew up in, or the houses you have moved through in childhood can be hard. We gain attachment to spaces to the point where they begin to be places of significance and inherent meaning. If you have never moved outside of your comfort zone, the idea of leaving everything behind might seem like the most confounding and terrifying thing. This is exactly why you should move though. Your comfort zone is holding you back, and it should be obliterated. Here are some reasons you should consider packing up and living somewhere where you know no one if you have never done so.
Recreating the Self
When we live in the place our entire lives, develop long-term long-lasting friendships, and are surrounded by our families, we never really get a chance to explore different modes of living, different ways of understanding the world, or different ways of viewing ourselves. While transformations can and do occur, they are always constrained by the people who have known us our entire lives. “This isn’t you,” or “You were not always like this,” are phrases I commonly heard before I moved. People expect us to stay essentially the same or change with them over time. While it is true that we tend to grow like our friends, it is also true that we tend to grow in different directions. It is one of the amazing things about being around other people, is watching them form new identities, flip their proverbial ‘personae’. Meeting new people, and exploring other living possibilities allow us to grow at a quicker rate though, as new people bring in new opportunities, and different experiences.
Learn About Different Ways of Living/Ideologies
The Singularity, post-scarcity, bioregionalism and more are all concepts I have learned about since leaving home. Techno-utopianism in particular was an idea I learned from one of my friends since moving into this house. We are opened to new possibilities and ways of living by meeting people who do not conform to our own interpretations of how to live ‘the good life’. Particularly if you are coming out of high school and moving into college/university/the trades you’re very likely to start meeting people who more accurately and succinctly reflect your ideologies than your old friends and family. Even when they do reflect some of your own feelings, they bring new ways of thinking about problems and ideas that you had already thought through. Your old friends also then get to share in this experience because they now get to hear your interpretations of these ideas, and they get to grow from that too.
Experiencing a Different Culture
While I only moved from one province to another, I felt some major sociopolitical shifts in the mentality of the people I was around. Suddenly, talk about pipelines, territory acknowlegments, the importance of nature, Cascadia, became entrenched things in my life. Living by mountains, or appreciating beauty really changed for me, as I was swept up in a lifestyle that was fairly different (not necessarily better) than the hustle and bustle I felt living in Toronto. The point is not that I suddenly became a west coast hipster, but rather that living in a different microculture allowed me to adapt different aspects of both into my personality (this is called hybridity). By asserting yourself in a different place as a stationary guest, you begin to experience other people’s mentalities and modalities of living.
Living Somewhere is Different Than Travelling Somewhere
Sometimes when I have brought up to people my choice to move to Vancouver, I am met with the response that while people would like to move, they have traveled and that gave them enough change. Travelling is very different than staying and living in a place for months or years. When traveling, you are a tourist, someone who will be leaving in a few days or a month. You get to see a certain part of the culture that is different than getting up, going to work, buying groceries, spending time with friends/neighbours/classmates/coworkers. Living somewhere is different. It can be more isolating longterm, or more intimate. When moving somewhere completely new there is a risk of being alone that touring South East Asia is not going to provide. You always have the chance of coming back, and you can always spend your time counting the days. Living somewhere new is different. If I spent my time counting days, I would have been counting 1460 days approximately.
The Privilege of Travel/Moving
I would be remiss if I did not point out that to be able to pick up your life and move, falls into a particular cultural and economic trend. In terms of the cultural, some cultural enclaves favour family connection to choosing to move. I happen to partially come from one of these cultures. My Greek background is very family oriented in contrast to my Anglo background which is very individualistic and protestant. Having come from both backgrounds, I understand the tug and pull to stay with family as opposed to searching for your own space. I would, however, ask you to consider still thinking about giving yourself some space to grow. You do not have to choose between yourself and your family, they will always be there, and you can always move back, but I can equally appreciate that your family is extremely important and might lead your decision to stay. Moving your life can be a very privileged thing to do, it takes money, and it is much riskier than staying at home. It is something we do not always consider, but it is an important thing to note. I can only talk about moving from my particular position as a white middle class male, but I have seen people of various lifestyles move from one place to another, and it is more of a cognitive limitation than it is a real one. No one wants to live their life having wondered if they had not followed their dream. For some, there may be a real reason that you cannot get out of the city, but for those who find excuses rather than impossibilities, moving can be the most freeing thing you do.