The Emotional Experience of Moving

When I first decided to uproot my life in Toronto, Canada and relocate to London, where I’m now based and which now feels more like home than anyplace else, I felt completely numb to the emotional side of such a colossal change. In the months leading up to the monumental move I was about to make, I found myself so caught up in a dizzying blur of to do lists and preparations that I forgot to consider the profound effect that leaving the place in which I grew up and starting anew in a city where I knew virtually nobody would have on me. And then finally, in the weeks leading up to my move, the emotions associated with a completely life-altering change finally hit me like a ton of bricks. All at once, I could feel the excitement, the fear, the joy, the sadness so intensely, as if having just woken up from a deep sleep. During this weird and wonderful stage of change and growth, I struggled for the first time with communication — I didn’t feel I could adequately express the experience and the emotions it stirred within me in words written or spoken. Feeling in between homes and countries was something I’d never experienced before, and I’d definitely be glamourising this whole process if I didn’t admit that along with the excitement came a slew of other emotions I didn’t even know I was capable of feeling.

There was a sense of displacement as I tied up loose ends in the home I’d always known but didn’t yet feel ready to get life’s tangled ball of yarn rolling again in another place; I was not necessarily lost, but floating in the space between where I had always been and where I wanted to be. But I truly cannot describe how freeing it was, knowing I was about to venture into the unknown, diving into a new experience head first, unattached to the anchors of the life I used to have. Aspects of such a drastic change can of course be daunting; but then again, they say to do something every day that scares you, and I can’t help but still feel that chasing this dream and making a change that scared me half to death might just have been the best decision I’ve ever made.

There was also the undeniable heartache that came each time I’d look at someone I cared about and wonder when I’d see them again. The relationships we build when we stay in one place are often bridges connecting entities that share nothing in common except proximity, so I often wondered who would remain once those bridges were stretched across an ocean. But overall I was able to make peace with the idea that many of the souls we meet stay with us only long enough to teach us something valuable before parting ways, and I can confidently say that I have found so much to learn from everyone I have been connected to, through both positive and negative encounters. A select few goodbyes were not easy, but when it comes to those chosen few, I left them knowing our paths would cross again and our farewells would only be temporary.

The best analogy I can think of to describe the whole of this experience is one of geology; when tectonic plates drift apart at divergent boundaries, the earth’s liquid mantle swells in the gap between them to form a new crust. How renewing it has been, to grow distant from what no longer serves me and to be reborn again in another place, only connected to what I deliberately chose to hold on to by a single jagged edge. That is why I dreamt this dream. That is why I meant it when I always said I’d go someplace far away. That is why I’ll probably never stop searching for the chance to make space for myself in someplace new and unfamiliar. I’d take this bittersweet buildup in exchange for the chance to be made brand new again every single time. And I’d encourage anyone with the opportunity to trade the familiar for the strange, exciting, terrifying unknown to do the same, over and over again.

Issabella is a Toronto-born, London-based Ancient History student. She has always been an avid writer, fascinated by antiquity, travel and world issues. Inspired by the ancient past, she hopes to use her background in classical studies to as a foundation of insight from which she can better understand social, cultural and political issues within the modern world, develop a greater appreciation for the destinations of her adventures around the globe, and write her own works addressing the interconnectivity of her three loves.