It’s been 123 days today since we moved from our comfortable home in Toronto, to this unknown American adventure. Although I had mixed feelings about quitting my job, I needed to support my partner’s opportunity, and take my own opportunity to “retire” at 32. It’s been inspiring not having someone tell me what my purpose everyday, yet terrifying. Isn’t that how life goes: we think we want something (that new puppy, that promotion, that more attractive less funny partner), and then we get it and realize that things aren’t like we thought they’d be. Jobs and school shape and schedule our day and life, for better and for worse. It’s easy and routine. There’s a thankless comfort in doing what someone else tells me to do with my days.
Today, I decided to walk to Rittenhouse Square, one of the 4 remaining original public squares in Philadelphia. In the centre is a fountain and monument dedicated to J. William White: Surgeon, Teacher, Author, Athlete: 1850-1916. Thanks J. William for your work on this park! It’s a lovely green space, and a popular hot spot, especially on a summer weekday for lunch. Every bench is full, so I’m perched on a short cement wall. Dogs and children run around. Adults… Well, adults sit. It’s shaded, yet warm. The air is a mix of burritos, and trees. Despite the high number of people here, it’s peaceful. This seems like a space where community comes together. Finding a tiny spot here is a great place to watch the world run by, to pause, and reflect.
4 months. That’s a whole term in university! Arriving in Philly, I had ambitious goals, motivation fueling me. I was going to eat better than ever, workout more consistently and harder (sounds like New Years?). I was going to learn French, organize my childhood boxes, make photo books, volunteer, and magically find my life’s purpose.
For a “change the world minded millennial”, it’s been overwhelming, and hasn’t come as easy as I thought it would.
Just as my blog was picking up speed and focus, I lost my drive for it. I became overwhelmed and found myself starting posts, but not finishing them. I felt critical that my stories were becoming rather sad and more lost than before, which I thought wouldn’t motivate readers to engage. A month without posting something new has now passed, and I’m sorry for not sharing. During May, I returned to the familiar Toronto, and explored the unknown India. Both experiences were incredible and reflective. I loved being around change and adventure, and felt reenergized and motivated for my everyday back in Philly. That motivation got checked at security unfortunately to the point of immobilization for what my life in Philly could be. I felt amazing at my developing ability to live in the moment, but amazingly lost without any fraction of a vision for tomorrow.
So here I sit, outside in a public park. I decided today I would publish again. I wanted to write something inspiring to read, to share some exciting adventure, some fancy tourist spot, some local gem. Instead, I need to share that I’m stuck, and I don’t know what to do. When they say moving to a new place takes time, they really mean it (“They” really know what they’re talking about!). Even though I’m outgoing, optimistic, and well educated about culture shock, it still takes a long time to start over.
But I’m working on it. I am journalling and meditating daily. I am seeing a counsellor every few weeks to seek support for what she calls ‘adjustment disorder’. I have become comfortable doing just about anything on my own, from dining at the Olive Garden, to seeing Broadway shows. I am volunteering at Morris Animal Refuge more regularly, and am feeling valued and useful. I have met some great people who I think are becoming real friends.
Thank you for giving me a space to share my current story and allowing me to be vulnerable. Thank you for your comments, your support, and for asking where my new posts have been.
To close off on a lighter note, I thought I’d end with a Top 10 List of Mike’s Random Reflections Since Arriving In Philly.
- There’s a lot of negativity in the world. Online, in politics, everywhere. It’s easy to blame everyone else. It takes a conscious decision to not be negative. Americans have taught me that success and happiness are up to you, and no one else, but sitting here will get you nowhere.
- Talk openly and honestly with your friends, partner, family. That’s the only way they’ll know how your doing, and the only chance they’ll have to really support you.
- Walking 10,000 steps can be a huge challenge, or the easiest accomplishment. Join me on FitBit?
- Why does it seem that America is so far behind on recycling? I can see 12 garbage cans, and 0 recycling bins from where I am.
- Canada is still a mystery to many outside of Canada. Yes, Toronto is near Ontario. Toronto is actually part of Ontario. When you ask me what you can do in Ontario, you need to be more specific. So yes, Toronto is very close to Ontario, to answer your question. Als0, no, it’s not still winter in Toronto.
- Cheesesteaks are good, but too many cheesesteaks is not a good thing. Jim’s is better than both Pat’s and Gino’s. Wit and whiz please!
- Kids look like a lot of work. Geez. Go you, all you parents you!
- It’s hugely beneficial to get outside in the day, and unplug, even for 5 minutes.
- Sometimes paving your own path is the hardest, but the most worthwhile.
- One of my new favorite bathroom quotes: What I do today is very important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.
Make the most of today: Days can be long, but years always go by fast. Retirement will come soon enough.
Song of the Day: If You Knew My Story (from Bright Star)
Logistical Blog Update! Please change your bookmarks: my new blog address is (drumroll…!!)
lostandfoundinphiladelphia.com (no more wordpress.com!)
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