Friday, November 06, 2015

31 is the Loneliest Number

Tasman National Park

“So, how do you like Sydney?”

This single question has plagued all my social interactions for the last three months. It’s intended as a social nicety—a way of propelling conversation between near-strangers forward. I appreciate it and I know what I’m supposed to respond—but it’s become an increasingly difficult question to answer. 

The truth is that I’m struggling.

I’m lonely and isolated. I’m frustrated. I cry a lot.

Moving across the world is exciting and it's an adventure. But it’s also hard and that's okay. After all, this is exactly what I signed up for.

In July, I wrote a blog post explaining why I was moving to Australia, which I never posted. Looking back at it now, is a reminder that I'm on the right track.

So what do you do when you’re past the point where you want to party, but not yet at the point where you want to “settle down”? What do you do if that point never comes? What do you do when it seems like everyone has coupled off and your family is thousands of kilometres away? Where does that leave you? 

Living in downtown Toronto as a 30-something leaves you in a bit of a no man’s land of adulthood. You find yourself eating Kraft Dinner in bed and watching Netflix most Friday nights, even when you’d love to go out. When one of your employers asks you to go to a conference in Boston on your birthday weekend, you say yes, because there's no one to plan a birthday dinner for you. The invites “home” that came hard and fast during your undergrad have petered out. You leave the country every Thanksgiving just so you won’t have to spend another holiday weekend alone in your apartment. 

It’s a lonely thing, this age. 

I knew my life was going to change as priorities shifted, but I never knew it would happen so fast. 

A lot of people in my position take solace in their professions. For a time, that worked for me. I’ve spent the last three years living exactly the life that I always wanted to. I can jet off to a far-off locale whenever it gets too hard or boring. But I’m not growing, professionally or personally, and as each day passes, I realize that I can’t possibly develop as a person without any challenges. 

My relationship with Jules is part of this. I—actually, make that we—would be complete fools if we didn’t acknowledge that what we’re about to do is going to be very, very, very difficult. Sure, we’ve had a whirlwind romance that’s brought us from a platonic friendship in Scotland to the ultimate test of biking 500 kilometres across Tasmania. But we’re both stubborn, set in our ways and obstinately independent. 

When I flew back from Sydney at Christmas, I realized that the only reason I had been avoiding a relationship was because it was easier to just be alone. 

I don’t want to keep doing things just because they’re easier. 

But even if it wasn’t for Jules, it would be time for me to make this move. As a teenager, I promised myself that if something ever scared me, I would do it. It was clear to me even then that putting yourself outside of your comfort zone is one of the only ways you can grow and develop as a person. 

I’m terrified. I’m scared shitless of what I’m about to do. 

And that’s exactly the reason I have to do it.

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