[I’m currently away in Toronto on business until the middle of next week. Please don’t rob my house. In the meantime, here’s a lovely East Coast guest post by a local blogger and fellow CBC-er.]
By Shaina Luck
“Don’t you think there would be more opportunities in a big city?”
I get that question way too much, and I’m really tired of it. I always answer the same way.
“Sure, maybe there would be,” I reply. Then I explain that in spite of the opportunities a big city offers (and I haven’t seen a lot of evidence that a big city would REALLY offer my dream job in journalism) I’ve got a network in Halifax. I feel like people here have time to listen to me.
I guess you could say that the real answer to that over-asked question is, “Hell NO!”
I moved from Toronto to Halifax in 2003 to pursue a degree in journalism at the University of King’s College. I thought I’d be going home at the end of four years. Right up through the final months of my degree my mom was thinking about an East Coast road trip and planning how we could pack my things into the car for the return journey.
At the time this made me happy, because I didn’t like Halifax.
I come from Toronto, Toronto. I’m a real downtown girl. I love the feel of a big city. Halifax was cute but it was a pain in my butt. I couldn’t get decent Chinese food. The nightlife mostly consisted of beer. The transit system made me angrier than a wasp in a jar. I felt like a tourist on an extended, mediocre vacation.
When I decided to stay, I knew that I had to change my approach. No more tourism. If this was going to be home, I had to make it into a home.
I started to look for ways to become part of the community. I began to take dance classes. I volunteered at the library. I organized outings with acquaintances so that we could become friends. I paid attention to notices on message boards. I went to community meetings. I struck up conversations with my neighbours.
At first I found that I had to force the process, but the more I worked at it the more I found a sense of belonging in this rocky, foreign place. And the more I felt like I belonged, the more I realized that I actually liked Halifax. I liked Halifax a lot.
Another thing that happened along with this sense of belonging and liking for Halifax, was that Halifax started to like me. Opportunities opened. Work started to arrive.
All these things happened gradually over time. Things evolved, one into another. It was my own fault that I distanced myself from Halifax, but it was also my micro-decisions which changed that. I didn’t understand my community until I became part of it. When I decided to become interested in my neighbours, acquaintances, and community, rather than live with my mind constantly flitting away to the “big city opportunities,” I started to see the opportunities right in front of me.
Funny how that works!
Shaina Luck is a 20-something freelance reporter based in Spryfield. She works most often with CBC Radio’s Information Morning program. She covers local news for her community newsblog which is linked to Haligonia.ca. She does some writing for magazines and websites and corporate/advertising writing as well.