As someone who has travelled a large portion of the world and relocated to cities at great distances over the course of my life the Ernest Hemingway quote “You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another” resonates with me in so many ways.
My two major transitions – to the other side of Canada and to the other side of the world (to Perth, Australia) have come from vastly different places.
In the first I was still fairly young and still trying to find myself. I hadn’t yet found love for myself and in many ways I was running from so many things trying to find it. My escape was necessary and living in the amazing city of Vancouver for over 8 years (never having planned on being there a fraction of that time) started me on my journey to happiness – when I left I can confidently say I was content in life. I was living rather than running and ready to tackle more adventures.
When I was given the opportunity to move half way around the world as a content and wiser woman fully in my 30’s I couldn’t pass up the chance to see what it had to offer.
I recall a close friend telling me that she thought I was running away when I told her I was leaving and still to this day I can feel how deeply offended I was by this comment – I couldn’t disagree more. Perhaps that’s why shortly after I left the friendship ended.
My journey at this point was full steam ahead, not living in the past but ready to blossom and continue the growth that had begun.
I found my happiness in Perth. And so many other things have blossomed since.
But it always brings my thoughts back to that quote, to running and stopping, to reacting and making clear choices.
What I came to realize over time – what I couldn’t articulate to that friend so many years ago – is that sometimes we need to leave a place in order to fully come into our own.
My growth started in Vancouver but it could only be fulfilled in a place so far away from there – away from the people who had put me into a small little box that limited just how far I could expand. Other people’s perceptions of us have such a large influence that there comes a point where we have to break free of them, let them go or move on in order to find ourselves.
When I left Vancouver I was running but it was towards my greater self, this time my focus was forward, on the future rather than the past and now that I write it I can see how those I was leaving thought I was escaping from them and perhaps in a way I was but it was to reach such greater heights and I wouldn’t change any of it.
It’s also why I struggle to go back – I get pushed back into that box and it no longer fits.