Growing up in Saskatchewan, I had a wholesome childhood that I look back on fondly. I loved the accessibility of getting to all my favourite activities in minutes. Whether it was ballet at 5:00 P.M. followed by piano lessons at 7:00 P.M. or choir at lunchtime and a cross country race after school, getting around was pretty straightforward.
However, I wasn’t immune to the challenges of being a young person in a small community. My high school experience presented its own set of challenges. I was shy, awkward, and a late bloomer, so I often struggled in social situations. Despite my awkwardness, I did well in school, excelled in dance and music, and joined several sports teams. I spent my weekends performing with Saskatchewan Express, which gave me a small taste of travel and freedom.
Saskatchewan Will Always Be My Home
I spent my first 18 years there and I love going back to visit my family and friends who live in my hometown and neighbouring cities. There is so much I love about my hometown and Saskatchewan people. From their warmth and generosity to their openness and genuine kindness, it’s such a special place.
While I was grateful for the opportunities my small town afforded me, I dreamed of something bigger. After a brief stint in North Dakota and a few years in Auckland, New Zealand, my partner (now husband) and I decided to move to the big city of Toronto to kickstart our careers. I always wanted to be a magazine editor, and my first goal was to complete an editorial internship at a bridal magazine.
Nothing Opens Your Mind More than Leaving Your Home Province and Moving Across the Country
Starting fresh in a new city is one of the hardest yet most remarkable experiences I’ve ever had. (Leaving your home country is another story for another day!) Adapting to a new place and leaving the safety net of your family, friends, and wider social network is equal parts challenging and rewarding. It forced me out of my shell and allowed me to become a braver, bolder, and more creative version of myself.
There’s a quote by Anthony Bourdain that beautifully advocates for moving as far as you can and as much as you’re able. “The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody.”
My Toronto Life
My three years spent in Toronto were nothing short of amazing, and I spent a lot of time indulging in Canada’s most diverse food city. I lived downtown and worked in a glamorous office building that reminded me of the Devil Wears Prada. My colleagues were some of the most stylish people I’d ever met, and my fellow intern and friend, Jessica, taught me how to use Instagram while we organized the product closets. I spent my weekends working a not-so-glamorous retail job but made dozens of lifelong friends.
Eventually, I got my first full-time job in digital marketing, working at a small agency with many local clients. It was exhilarating and utterly different from anything I’d ever known in my small prairie hometown. Now, more than ten years later, my husband and I have relocated, once again, to the opposite side of the country.
It’s Important to Put Yourself Out There
I’m more inclined to talk to people I don’t know and put myself in new, potentially uncomfortable situations. Whether it’s dining solo or leaving a job that doesn’t serve me, I don’t hesitate to make decisions that move me closer to my goals.
Moving to Vancouver, especially during the height of the pandemic, isn’t for the faint of heart. We were fortunate to have a few friends here, but it took us a good year and a half to truly feel settled and comfortable. Unlike Toronto, Vancouver is less welcoming to newcomers.
Most Torontonians (especially those in the downtown core) have relocated from other parts of the province and country. Vancouverites seem more likely to stay put in their beautiful, rainy city, which means they’ve had their whole lives to make friends and often stick to these circles rather than branching out.
Fortunately, through work, fitness classes, and various creative pursuits, I’ve made lifelong friendships that make me feel like Vancouver might be home for a while.
Photos courtesy of Vanessa Ortynsky.