“Are you happy you moved?” My response to this often-asked question
The TL;DR (too long, didn’t read) version of my answer is: Yes, I am. I have lived in half a dozen countries and travelled through dozens more and I have learned to be happy wherever I am.
I had lunch with several of my friends from when I did my chemical engineering undergraduate degree yesterday, and I got asked the same question that just about everyone in Canada and in Mexico asks me “are you happy you moved?“. For a lot of people, particularly Mexicans who don’t know life in Canada very well (or in any other country, for that matter), my decision to leave Canada behind and move to Mexico seems (hypothetically) unfathomable. After all, Vancouver is the world’s most livable city, yadda yadda yadda.
Yet, what my answer always turns to be is a long-winded version of the Theodore Roosevelt quote:
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
I have learned to be happy wherever I am. I don’t long for Vancouver. I don’t long for Madrid. I don’t long for Paris. I don’t long for Manchester. I don’t long for anywhere where I have lived at any point in my life. I am a citizen of the world. I speak 7 languages and have travelled dozens of countries. I have moved more times than I can remember. And I am happy. Anywhere I am I always find ways to be happy.
Yes, there are things that I miss from Vancouver. My friends, for example. The easier access I had to politicians, bureaucrats and policy makers (I am, after all, a public policy professor – I love giving my students practical examples and access to real-world decision makers in the policy arena). My online popularity (and in Canada, British Columbia and the lower mainland, particularly, my offline popularity). Yes, I miss that. But I don’t long for it.
I am happy with the decision I made and I am making the most of what I have here. I am travelling Mexico and browsing for opportunities to showcase a wonderful country. I would do the same if I lived in France, or in Germany, or in Argentina. I live in the moment, and I enjoy it to the fullest. That’s how I like to live, and yes, that’s why I am happy I moved. I am happy to lean into the discomfort.
I am happy, willing and able to embrace change.
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