If you work in radio, you’ve probably relocated once or twice. My first gig took me 4,000km Northwest to Dawson Creek, BC. It was difficult leaving Toronto because my whole world was there. Granted, my wife (then-girlfriend) was joining me, but what about family, friends? My local hangouts? They were all going to be three time zones away.
I had built my life in Southern Ontario over twenty-two years, and it felt like it was dissolving behind me. Not only did I have the pressures of a new job, I also had to make new friends, explore an unfamiliar area, and try to recreate some semblance of the day-to-day I was used to. I remember meeting a few buddies the week before I left for Dawson Creek and trying to capture every moment: what was eaten, said. I didn’t want to leave any of it behind.
Eighteen months later, I left once again: this time for Dubai. I had finally built up a solid group of friends, had a routine, and, most importantly, knew the Happy Hour specials around town. Leaving for the UAE was doubly hard, because in addition to the difficulties Dawson Creek brought, I was also leaving the cultural comforts of my home country. I wasn’t tasked simply with finding a new apartment, I also had to endure the visa process, obtain a new driver’s license, get a handle on currency exchange rates, and garner an understanding of local laws and customs. Plus, I would no longer be a six-hour plane ride from home; Toronto to Dubai (usually) means two eight-hour flights and a layover.
The nature of broadcasting means people are constantly moving. I lost a lot of good friendships not only because I had to relocate, but because they had to, as well. Friends and co-workers become family, especially when international travel is involved. While some of us bring partners, many of us literally fly solo. We become incredibly dependant on each other and when these people exit our lives, it’s painful. Granted, we can keep in touch online, but outside of rare exceptions, communication tapers off quickly. It’s just… different. It’s the same with people back home: we chat on FaceTime or Skype, see familiar faces and places. But they’re not here, and we’re not there.
In July, I left once more: Dubai for Toronto. The last few days were tough, at first: it was difficult saying goodbye to yet another group of people I would likely never see again. Hugs and handshakes. Final drinks at favourite bars. Then, as I always do, I tried to capture every moment. But instead of dwelling on what would soon be no longer, I focused on what was. The friendships, experiences. I realized that most things aren’t forever, and there’s beauty in that. Sometimes, close relationships graduate to fond memories, and that’s okay. We’re no longer cave people, living our entire lives in single square miles, but travelers of an increasingly shrinking globe.
Try to realize the other half of leaving is arriving. It’ll be uncomfortable at first, but new places hold opportunities to challenge yourself, to grow. Remember the experiences you’ve shared with the people you’ve met, and use these to form the basis of the always-evolving you. Look back and relive the moments you’ve created, but keep your head in the present and experience what’s happening now. You’re about to arrive at a brand new adventure.
Follow-up: How do you deal with change?