Nowadays, it seems that all millennials do and talk about is travelling. It is all about going on an adventure, leaving daily routines behind and exploring all the world has to offer. It is about discovering oneself; about becoming a changed person and growing into who we are meant to be. I personally hate the phrase "finding yourself," is it like one big cliche - what do you mean, were you literally lost or are you using the word "lost" as a metaphor? And if so, what does it even mean to be metaphorically lost? Lost inside yourself? What could possibly happen out there that makes you a changed person? It honestly made no sense at all to me.
For a long time I had just assumed my fellow millennials were watching to much Eat Pray Love and that was where this obsession of wanderlust came from. I couldn't relate; I had previously never had an unexplainable desire to hop on a plane and go backpacking around the globe. Of course there are amazing cities and counties I want to visit one day, however, I have never felt the impulse to get up and leave in a single moment. But then I moved to Toronto and started to understand what everyone else was talking about.
I'm not your typical traveller. I haven't been to Europe or Asia and my travel experiences are limited to family vacations in Canada and the United States. I don't dream of far off exotic places each night nor do I have this burning desire within me to go explore other continents. However, I did have a strong desire to leave. I had the desire to leave my childhood home, move across the country and start a new - essentially to find myself and figure out who I wanted to be. And the place where I was going to discover myself would be Toronto.
With growing up in a small, rural town outside of Edmonton, I had always dreamed about moving to a big city like Toronto. There was something about the hustle and bustle of big city life that was attractive to me. I felt it would look good on me and fit my personality. But it wasn't just the idea of Toronto that enticed me, it was a combination of the place and the people. I had never actually been to Toronto before I moved here so I was taking my cues from the movies. I had assumed Toronto was a small-scale New York City with fancy business women walking the streets in big sunglasses, notebooks in hand as their expensive heels clicked against the pavement. But since I could notafford to go to an American university, Toronto was the next and only option in my mind.
The second I received my acceptance letter to Ryerson University, I pulled out my suitcase and started throwing all my things inside. Clothes, shoes, books, everything I owned was messily stacked in the suitcase and stayed there for the next five months until I would actually be leaving. I was finally moving to a place where I felt like I would belong - it was something like that wanderlust feeling everyone had been talking about, except I felt like I was going home. But I guess that is sometimes what travelling is about; finding new places that feel like old places and chartering new territory that feels more like home than our real homes. Toronto was and is that for me.
After living here for nearly four years now, I believe Toronto is the perfect place to discover oneself. For the first time I was on my own and there were no outside influences. No one was pressuring me to do good in school or saying I should be working harder or telling me what I should be doing with my career. You don't have to fit in in Toronto; you can be whoever you want to be and Toronto provides the means for you to do that. Toronto's multicultural society isn't telling you to conform to a set mould, it is saying be who you've always wanted to be and whoever that person is is good enough.
Although Toronto is always full of life, it does have its serene moments too. Sometimes it is not the travelling that changes a person, but the quiet moments en route that allow for time to think. Toronto is full of great parks and hidden spots that almost transport you to a different place, it is these breaks from the city that give people space to gain perspective. This mix of city life meets rural environment is the perfect combination to dig deep and figure out who you want to be. The quiet moments give you the opportunity to figure out what you want to do, what your next move will be and how to make your dreams a reality. Time to relax is an equally important factor when discovering yourself.
You may disagree with me here, but I also believe the food in Toronto has something to do with it too. No I'm not speaking figuratively here, I literally mean the food changes you. It is amazing, delicious and eye-opening all at the same time. There are millions of restaurants littered throughout the city that specialize in cultural dishes. There are Mediterranean restaurants, Italian restaurants, Greek restaurants, Mexican restaurants and so much more. So why not find yourself in food? Sometimes it is the best inspiration. And similar in inspiration is Toronto's art scene. From graffiti to fashion to photography to museums, Toronto is one artistic city. Whether you spend an afternoon at the AGO or strolling through Graffiti Alley, art can be found literally anywhere you look in Toronto. Toronto is basically covered in it, so explore who you are through its art.
The people of Toronto are also something to be marvelled at as well. The city is filled with amazing people from all across the world with different stories on how they got here. Be friendly and kind and take the time to listen to their stories. Their experiences will help to shape yours. You must create your own story by meeting others through school, work, friends and so on. Toronto is a city that has a diverse population that is perfect for meeting new people to help you discover who you really are. It may take some time to figure everything out, and I'm not saying you will have everything solved the second you step off a plane at Pearson, but over time you will see too that Toronto is the perfect place to discover yourself. Of all the things I have felt skeptical about, moving to Toronto was never one of them.