About starting over
About a year ago, in June of last year, I was at a cross roads in my life. I was struggling with whether or not I believed in school. I had just been let go from my job, which I had previously believed that I would hold for the foreseeable future. My world was in shambles and I felt lost. I felt like just getting a new job would be like starting over and like school was leading me nowhere. I forced myself to look at the bright side. Instead of starting over I began to look at this as an opportunity for a new beginning. New beginnings are good, they allow you to redesign yourself, give you a chance shirk any negative perceptions people may have had about you, and ultimately improve yourself. This change in mindset really got me thinking, and in turn, it actually got me excited about the prospect of starting over.
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” — Seneca
Once my mindset changed, I started going more “all-in” towards the idea of starting over. I decided to take a full year off of school, which I had been doing part-time while working during the previous year. I also decided that I would get another job, but not in the same field, and not even in the same province. Ever since I was young I had always wanted to travel, and what better place to start than my own country. So I began looking westward (from Montreal), for potential opportunities. After I started seriously looking, it was only a matter of time. By the end of that summer I had signed a seasonal contract, and in October I packed some things, and made my move to Golden, British Columbia. A small mountain town just west of the Albertan border, with a population of roughly 3000, and home to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, one of the best ski resorts the Canadian rockies has to offer. This is where I would be spending the next 11-12 months of my life (and still spending the next 4). I would be working in a retail store owned by the resort. Not the most fulfilling work or the highest paying, but it would give me a chance at the fresh start I had romanticized.
Before I left for BC, I was living at home in Pointe Claire. A suburb of Montreal, where I had lived my whole life, Born and raised. My immediate family is there, all my friends are there, and I know the place like the back of my hand (which I have studied intensely). I went to school in Pointe Claire, worked there when I was younger, and spent what probably equates to well over 70% of my time on this earth, within its borders. What I am trying to get at is, this was a big move. When you’re home you have a baseline, things that make you feel comfortable and safe; friends, family, familiar geography, etc... Whether you realize it or not, any type of feedback you try to get from this environment will be at least slightly jaded. People in this environment have their perceptions of you and all of your actions are first viewed through that lens. This can make it a bit hard to get accurate feedback for self-improvement.
I have been living in Golden for seven months now, and I can say that leaving the comfort behind for a completely unfamiliar environment can be exactly what you need if you are honestly looking to grow and challenge yourself. Thus far the experience has been more rewarding that I could have ever imagined. Leaving all of the familiarity behind was unsettling and nerve wracking at first , but with patience and work it has completely paid off. My first step, upon arrival, was to settle in to my environment. This was relatively easy for a couple reasons; one the town of Golden is so small that you walk it end to end no problem, the other reason was because I arrived a week before I was to start work. So I took this week to go on walks and explore my surroundings.
“Be genuinely interested in everyone you meet and everyone you meet will be genuinely interested in you” — Rasheed Ogunlaru
My second step, was meeting people and trying to make friends. Meeting people is really the reason that I moved to Golden. Like I mentioned before, back home, your friends, family, and acquaintances already have their perceptions of you. Everything that you do is viewed through that lens. When in a completely new environment there is nothing to hide behind, the person that you really are is reflected in the opinions and perceptions of the new people in your new environment. It is an amazing way to get raw unfiltered data about ourselves which we can act on and improve. Meeting new people and making new friends is definitely harder than exploring a new place, because theres someone else involved, but what I learned is that if you persistently put yourself in social situations, its really only a matter of time before you meet some people that you have some things in common with. Sure, some people might not like you, and you might not like everyone, but I prefer quality over quantity. Another thing I learned in those early days trying to make friends is that there is almost always someone at the bar/party/get together that is equally, or more uncomfortable than you are. Armed with that knowledge, I realized that it isn’t all that scary and it can actually be quite fun.
Starting over has proved to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life thus far. The return on investment of this adventure, with all the experiences I have had, and all of the people I have met, is really unbeatable. I would recommend doing something like this to anyone in my age group. You will learn more about about yourself than you ever thought possible and you will come back a different, more well rounded person, better equipped to handle life’s challenges, whatever those may be for you. I would argue that the destination is irrelevant, travel anywhere in the world, to a small town or a big city, just challenge yourself to go outside of your comfort zone. Remove your safety net, and believe in yourself that you are up to the challenge, I promise you one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, one filled with memories and people that you will never forget.
“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” — Matsuo Basho