April 6, 2023, Charlottetown – When I arrived in PEI a year ago today, I had no idea what the future would hold.
I was struggling financially as a self-employed consultant and copywriter, heartbroken after ending a relationship that wasn’t good for me and beating myself up for my ego’s perceived “lack of success” in my life so far.
It turns out time heals. So does therapy, making difficult decisions, getting out of your comfort zone, letting go of worrying about what people may think, and just getting on with it.
I’d started an online business so I could have the freedom to move to the East Coast and express myself as creatively as I wanted.
When the opportunity to take that leap showed up in the gift of a used car and several months rent-free accommodations at my sister’s place outside of Ottawa, I took it.
But moving across the country and refurnishing an entire house isn’t cheap.
In January 2020, I’d received a buyout from my former employer.
By May 2023, that money plus the savings I’d accumulated before it was almost gone.
By July, I had to face the truth: my business wasn’t supporting me and likely wouldn’t any time soon. I started applying for communications jobs and by September had secured one with Health PEI.
My new job is rewarding and suits my skills but it’s also stressful with a high volume of work. The thought of working on a side hustle after a full day of scrambling to keep up was exhausting.
So, I’ve let my business go (and with it my original goal of making six figures in it).
Instead, after work, I’m returning to the things that energize me:
- Taking improv classes
- Line dancing and swing dancing
- Singing and (new to PEI) writing music and attending open mics, and
- Writing a new comedic play that I’ll be performing this summer.
Through these pursuits, I’ve made new friends including one very special person – an Islander named Ken – who constantly inspires me with his approach to living in the moment and appreciation of the present.
I’ve processed the heartbreak of early 2022 through new songs that have taken on a life of their own. They, like me, no longer feel so attached to the events or person that inspired them. I’ve stopped hanging out on social media and started hanging out more with real people in real life.
I didn’t fully realize until moving here how much my goals and ambitions had come from feeling like I needed to prove myself to be worthy in this world. Perhaps it’s the therapy, the new company I’m keeping, or simply the more relaxed island vibe, but in PEI that’s changing.
Instead, I’m focusing on the abundance already around me – my health, the people who love me, a beautiful home to live in, a steady paycheck, opportunities to make a difference, fresh air, and the ability to express myself and do things that light me up.
To that end, there is no shortage of entertainment options in Charlottetown even in the winter (except during a storm when everything shuts down).
Some things that have surprised me living in Charlottetown:
Everything is either a 15-minute walk or a 15-minute drive away. This seems to be true no matter where you live here or the neighbouring city of Stratford.
The speed limit is 40 on most of the major streets – probably because you can’t go more than 100 yards without hitting a roundabout.
People have unique accents that get stronger the more north you go (according to some of my Islander friends, I have an Ontario or “Valley Girl” accent).
There is this pervasive idea that you can only be an Islander if you are born here. I think this is bull.
The Island has a sizeable and well-respected French population. It’s also diverse but not as diverse as Toronto.
The beaches are incredible and at certain times of the day and the year you can walk for miles and be the only person on them.
To see a doctor at a walk-in clinic you need to line up an hour before the clinic opens. (And forget finding a family doctor: there is a list of over 23,000 people waiting for one here.)
There are crows and Celtic music everywhere and the squirrels look like chipmunks.
Food is expensive, eating out is expensive, and don’t get me started on the cost of heating my home with oil.
The only things I miss in Ontario, apart from my family, are the Bay and Ikea (neither of which are on the Island).
Two nights ago, I got my hair cut. After years of dying, highlighting and straightening my hair, I’ve decided to let my greys grow out and my hair go naturally curly again.
A year after moving to Charlottetown, I’m accepting who I am and where I am at this point in my life.
And, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.