This is my first of what I hope will be many posts to the Canalien blog, and I have to start by thanking Syd for the opportunity to share my stories here.
I’m Bridget, an American living in Canada, trying to get my Permanent Residency so I can stay. Before moving to Toronto, I spent nearly a decade in NYC working as an actor, and I was doing pretty well. The only problem was that my gentleman is Canadian and he lives in Toronto. We met in undergrad at McGill and had been in a long distance relationship for 9 years (more advice on surviving the perils of long distance love in a future post, I hope).
In June 2014 we got engaged, but were still living apart. I wasn’t happy about that or about my career because there’s this feeling in NYC of never being good enough. The pace is so fast, the competition so fierce, that if you’re not constantly doing something for your career, then you don’t want it bad enough. Health, happiness, relationships, life… all of it gets put aside. Forget taking a day off if you’re sick, leaving the city to see family, or the worst offense of all: taking a vacation – It’s actually this twisted point of pride for New Yorkers to tell everyone around them how long it’s been since they’ve taken a vacation. So, focusing on and constantly traveling for my relationship often made me feel like a failure.
I realized that I couldn’t keep miserably pushing myself to exhaustion every day, missing my fiancé, and floundering in my career. I’d have to find happiness before I could find success. Hey, science says so too! I knew that being with my fiancé made me happy, so I had to find a way to do that more often. He’s got a great job in Toronto and there’s a vibrant art scene here for me, so we decided that I would move in July, and we’d just… figure it out.
So, that’s what we’re doing! The immigration process is difficult (more on this in a future post too – I have tons of advice for anyone hoping to move to Canada), but otherwise my quality of life is much better in Toronto. The pace here is different, and for me that’s good. There’s more space. There’s less… pushing. Literally and figuratively. I can’t tell you how often I was literally pushed in NYC, by people so packed in and so busy that they had to push just to be able to move. But here I don’t have to push anyone, and I don’t feel like a failure if I don’t push myself to my absolute limits every day. I even have agents that support me having a life, being happy, staying healthy, and taking time off. Not to mention the fact that I get to spend every day with the person I love.
Now, most of this is my opinion. NYC is wonderful, New Yorkers are incredible people, and many would choose the big apple over Toronto. But I don’t think anyone would argue that life is different here, and if you haven’t experienced Toronto I encourage you to come visit.
I think a lot of people in my life saw this move as giving up, or throwing my career away. But I haven’t given anything up. I’ve chosen a path that brings me joy in my everyday life, instead of waiting for joy to appear when I’m “successful”. Sometimes just living and having experiences makes you a better artist and person. I think that’s part of what being a Canalien is all about – exploring new places and pursuing the things that make you better. I have complete faith that I will flourish here because, at least for now, Canada is where I’m meant to be.
Bridget Ori, Proud Canalien.