So a lot of you probably know this by now: I'm coming from a small village which, if you look on the world's map, looks like a tiny dot somewhere in the middle of Siberia. And maybe it's because I spent my childhood summers barefoot chasing hens in the field and mostly grew up in the small city with well, a small city mentality,
I have always been fascinated by big cities.
It's funny how your past experiences unconsciously drive you to the places you are now. This past winter I have been reflecting on my adolescence a lot and why I do things I do and think the way I think - and I'm starting to discover new depth and meaning in all those Jung psychology books I used to read in my teens. (Psychoanalysis is a real thing!) I just came back from my trip to Russia and I can honestly say that I was able to decipher some of the things from my past and come to terms with who I am (kind of). It's easy to bring some clarity to things when you look at them from the distance. I've been living in Canada for 9 years now, and from the height of my current present, I can clearly see why certain things happened in the past and why I became who I am (and how I can improve or change). This trip helped me figure a lot of things out and helped me remember the key things that have been pushing me all this time and that eventually led me to where I am right now (I think that's the whole new topic and I should write about it some time in the future).
But anyways, if you fast forward the videotape of my life from that little village to nowadays - here I am, living in downtown Toronto. I don't think Torontonians realize how lucky they were to be born and raised in Toronto. I agree, it's not as exciting as NYC and it doesn't have that sophisticated European architecture. However, I do believe that it's a pretty exciting place to live in.
When I was in my first year of university, I met a girl at a party once. I was still new to the city and she embodied everything I thought a true Torontonian was like at that time. She looked like as if she was at complete ease with herself, had a cool atmosphere around her and apart from looking great, she was also a very pleasant person to talk to.
At some point in conversation, she asked me: "Do you live in the city?"
And I said "Yes, I live in Leslieville" which at that time was an up-and-coming area in the town. I liked living there because a) the rent was cheap b) it was only 15 min ride on a streetcar to get downtown c) it was not too far away from the beach. There were a lot of crazy people walking at night in my hood, and one of the bars was famous for a fatal shooting that happened a few years earlier. The area was a mixed combination of trendiest coffee shops, cool furniture stores, young, blue collar professionals and one of the poorest residents living on welfare I have ever seen. I was young, adventurous and romantic. I thought living there was kind of chic.
The girl asked: "That's so cool! Have you been living there for a long time?"
I replied: "Well, yeah, it's been almost a year by now" and I could tell she was genuinely impressed by my answer. And me, being curious: "How about you? Where do you live?" to which she responded: "Oh, I'm from Barrie. I come to Toronto on weekends and crush my friend's couch. I would LOVE to live in Toronto one day. That's my dream".
And here it goes, I realized one very important thing that night. Seating in a streetcar, on my way back to my tiny room in Leslieville, I realized that it didn't matter where I was from. It didn't matter if I had an accent. Or that I was just a foreigner. I realized that none of it mattered. I also realized that my own insecurities should not let me underestimate my own will and lessen my own personality. It's who you are that matters the most. And whether or not you can make something out of yourself given what you have.