In Favour of Being a Nomad: Where Do I Belong?

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately, it really hit me Thursday after I attended the last lecture of my undergraduate career. I am graduating. I’m done. Except I’m not leaving the city. I’m barely leaving the university.

My kitchen table had a stack of papers that very closely resembles this one. I would have posted a picture of my thesis except owing to big bad tech world I didn't actually have to print anything.

My kitchen table had a stack of papers that very closely resembles this one. I would have posted a picture of my thesis except owing to big bad tech world I didn’t actually have to print anything.

Then Friday, my thesis was due. I closed my eyes and hit send on my 55 page thesis. I had worked for a year on a project and it had finally come to some sort of close. And then it hit me.
My house was a mess, I had to deal with that. ASAP. Jokes. It hit me that I was graduating.
But being serious – it hit me that despite the fact that four years ago I was ready to quit, but hey, I stuck it out and here I was ready for the big kid world.

I have spent the last four years in Ottawa. I have lived in 6 different places. Packed up and moved my life more times than I care to count. Into residence, out of residence, back out of my parents, into my brother’s, out of my brother’s, into my basement apartment, back to my parents, back to Ottawa. The number of miles I have racked up driving back and forth between the village and the city is mildly alarming.
It hit me this morning when I went to the Village Starbucks, disappointingly 10 minutes from my parents’ place rather than the 4.5 minute drive from my place in Ottawa. What can I say – Ottawa loves it’s Starbucks, Village ain’t so fancy. But as I left the Starbucks I realized that I didn’t look anything like the person that left Barrie for the first time four years ago. I looked a lot like a city girl. And of course we change over time, we are constantly evolving, learning from everything we do, changing our minds about what we want to do, how we want to feel, who we want to know, and what sort of person we want to be. But as I left the Starbucks mulling over this drastic shift the last year has brought upon me, including the new Starbucks addiction, I thought “Oh I’m not from here.

When I arrived at the grocery store, a cheerful Girl Guide offered me some cookies, and I apologized and explained that I had already bought some in Ottawa. And again that phrase, “I’m not from here,” ran through my mind.

It makes me sad that the whole shoe tree thing just south of Kinmount is gone. It was a sign that I was almost home...So much change

It makes me sad that the whole shoe tree thing just south of Kinmount is gone. It was a sign that I was almost home…Or you know that I was at least an hour into the drive home. 

And then I flashed back to all the times I had said “I’m going home” to refer to both the Village and the City. And how I planned on moving yet again to a whole new city/village next year for grad school.

And I realized I sort of become a nomad, despite not really travelling anywhere exciting, and having places that I call home. I just collect homes like some people collect stamps.

But all this got me thinking, if I have now been in Ottawa long enough that I don’t really say “I’m from here” when I am in Barrie, should I not say I’m from Ottawa? Which I do, when I’m here. And then when I’m in Ottawa, I tell people I’m from “a place about an hour north of Toronto” (though apparently the village is becoming less village-like because when people ask where and I tell them, they actually know where I’m talking about). So at the end of the day, I really appear to belong neither here nor there. At least in my mind.

It's not Thursday, but hey let's go back to the last time I graduated.

It’s not Thursday, but hey let’s go back to the last time I graduated.

So I’m graduating, I’ve got two exams left, 15 days from now I will be done my degree, 68 days from now I will cross the stage at the NAC, pick up my $40 000 piece of paper and that will be the end of it. And then where do I belong?
My regular readers know that this quasi-identity crisis isn’t much of a new thing for me as I’ve waded my way through fourth year, but it’s taken a new direction. (No pun intended. Maybe a little intended.)

Sort of like in the second Pocahontas movie when Pocahontas is faced with the whole John Smith (who she thought she was dead) versus that other guy (who I didn’t like as much anyways) and she starts that scene “Where do I go from here?”
Yes, I am contemplating a Disney binge to avoid the trauma of this impeding massive life change. Don’t judge. You all know it’s a compelling solution.

But this Disney binge doesn’t solve this “where do I go? Where do I belong?” question. Just reminds me of a time I didn’t have to answer that because the government and my parents had my life planned.

Disney has answered all my other big life questions, and yet it can’t answer the question every recent or impending grad is forced to stumble through answering 10 times a week.
Figures, they can give you a guide to life, but the Simba never had to look for jobs, and the princesses all just get their happily ever after, so I guess I’m on my own figuring out what to do with my $40 000 piece of paper. And they all only had one home. Except Ariel. She may be able to help me out a bit here.

I know where I will end up eventually. I know I will eventually get into grad school. But knowing where I want to go next doesn’t tell me where I belong now. Except maybe the solution is accepting that maybe I can belong wherever I want to be, wherever I am. Maybe where I belong doesn’t have to a place, maybe instead of thinking “I’m not from here” I need to think “I have multiple places I belong” or “I am here now” – translation instead of thinking where else I should be I should think about where I am – enjoy the moment, stop worrying about the last one or planning the next one.
And who knows, maybe there will be some spillover, and I’ll learn to stop tying who I am to what I am doing. Translation – being a student won’t be my identity because it’s what I DO not who I AM.
Two birds with one stone.
Just a thought.

Maybe I should try having a few less thoughts though.
Might save me the need for all this soul searching and identity crises.
Last thought. I promise.
I should probably focus on studying. You know, finals.

studyOr… I could finish binge watching Suits with my textbooks open beside me, so I can at least pretend I am studying hard.

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