When you’re 22, living in a big city is the perfect thing. There’s a seemingly endless array of things to do, people to meet, jobs to apply for, and restaurants to eat poutine in at 4 in the morning. It’s an indecisive time of life, so being constantly surrounded by options is the ideal scenario. But, skip ahead a few years, living in a city starts to feel a little different. The options are there but you know yourself better so you don’t always feel the need to take advantage of them. Tuesday night gallery openings might sound cool, but in reality they’re awkward and boring…plus you have pilates that night. And all those people? Who has the time? You barely see friends you have and they are cooler and better than everyone anyways.
With the honeymoon period of big city living over, the daily grind of doing “adult” things in an urban context (commuting, grocery shopping without a car, finding a non-sketchy family doctor, etc.) can start to get you down. And if you’re like me living in Canada in the middle of February, the whole experience can be pretty isolating….
So I thought I’d start a little series where I share some of my strategies for surviving city life as a responsible(ish) adult.
Survival Tip #1: ESCAPE
It’s easy to start feeling like your neighborhood is the centre of the universe. In my case, living in Toronto’s West End, all my favourite bars, coffee shops, restaurants, food co-ops, yoga studios, terrarium designers, artisanal jam shops and literally every person I know are within a stone’s throw of my apartment. Escapes don’t necessarily need to be “vacations” but they need to take you out of context. Here are a few examples of mini-escapes I’ve taken, that have really helped to broaden my perspective during my down times.
– Check out a new neighborhood : escapes don’t have to take you far from home. Hop a bus across town and explore what your city has to offer you beyond your own backyard.
– Go to the country: If you’re anything like me, the mix of consumer culture, jam-packed schedules and non-stop screen time can leave me feeling drained and disconnected. One of the best remedies for this I’ve found is to visit a smaller community where people do things a little differently. Good people, slower pace, tight knit community and rural life are just a cure all if you ask me.
– Hang out with munchkins: Full disclosure I am definitely a “kid person” but honestly I feel like one of the biggest things that gets me down about city living is how self-focused it all starts to feel. My apartment, my job, my hobbies, my gym, my friends, my plans, my needs, etc. It’s easy to feel purposeless or worse selfish and vain. And while I genuinely don’t think everyone in this world is meant to have kids themselves, I think we undervalue the restorative and frankly existential value of having children in our lives. So Skype your niece and nephew or take the bus out to the suburbs and hang with your married friends. As long as you don’t go comparing your own life to theirs (never a recipe for success) you might just find the boost you were looking for.
– Staycation: Not every weekend you have needs to be chock-full of social plans and to-do lists. Sometimes you need to kick back, relax and get some much needed R&R. Check out a new yoga studio. Go for a walk. Take a book & read/people watch in a cozy cafe (preferably NOT your local spot). Bake something tasty. Stretch. Marathon episodes of Empire…ahem. Whatever you do to relax and get your mind off the hectic world around you.