Written for the student publication, Thanks For Listening.

I talked to a friend recently about home. We’re both from the same hometown and something she said while we were talking stuck with me. “I’ve just outgrown it.”

This upcoming summer marks my second year anniversary of moving out of my mom’s house. After my first year at university ended, I decided that I wanted to remain in Toronto over summer break instead of returning home like most people do. I stayed because I thought that I would have an easier time finding a job in the city than in my small hometown because I wouldn’t be competing with all my peers who were looking for a summer job at the same time. Oh boy, I was wrong, but that’s another story. Still, I don’t regret my decision to stay in Toronto. Even though I was unhappy that summer (mostly due to the lack of a job), I think I would have been unhappy had I gone back home… just in a different way.

The main reason as to why I didn’t go back home that summer was because of my experience over winter break. Leaving for university had given me my first real taste of freedom. I was living in residence on my own for the first time. I chose what I ate, where I went, when I hung out with people… I dictated every single thing that I did and I loved my newfound independence. When I returned home over winter break, I still felt as if I could do what I wanted (my mom was never a strict parent once I’d reached my teen years) but it was different.

I come from a very small town and from a family of divorce. My mom runs her own business and we have one car to share between three people. Obviously, in Toronto everything you could possibly want to do is within walking distance, or at least a short subway ride away. Returning to Brooklin meant that there was nowhere to go and even if I did go somewhere, it meant having no means of getting there unless another friend could supply their family’s car. It was difficult having the freedom I’d grown used to for three months taken away.

I also stopped speaking to a lot of people who I went to high school with once I’d graduated. Not out of any malicious intent, but just because I needed to start over. I needed to leave behind my time in high school because they definitely weren’t the best four years of my life. And unfortunately, leaving it behind meant leaving behind some people. I kept in touch with a very small circle of friends back home, and my love for them will never lessen, but there is no denying that we have drifted apart. It happens. And honestly, if I had returned home for the summer it probably wouldn’t have and I take full responsibility for that fact.

But when I went home that first winter break everything felt so draining. I just wasn’t happy. So, despite knowing that I probably wouldn’t ever live with my family again or be as close to my high school friends as I once was, I made a decision that I personally believe benefited my life overall.

Sometimes it’s just time to move on. Maybe that sounds harsh, I don’t know, but I think it’s the truth. If you’re in a toxic relationship, you break up with your significant other. If you’re friends with someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart, you stop being friends. If you live somewhere that isn’t contributing to your overall capabilities and happiness, you move away.

No matter what you do, whether you still love returning home as often as you can, or you needed to move away like me, I think it’s okay as long as you’re doing what’s right for you. I realized what the best choice for me and my life was and I couldn’t be any happier with where I’ve ended up. My hometown may not be my home anymore, but I’ve found a new one. And I will never forget the one I had before.