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Taker no more

I am writing this post on one of our many road trips between Toronto and Ottawa.  Road trips have always been a good time for me to think and reflect on whatever is on my mind on that particular day.

I am realising  that a major theme in my life this year has been that of transitioning from being a “taker” in society, to a “contributor”.  For all my life, I have been a taker.  Though I have given of myself and of whatever resources I had in many ways, the net of my existence, if you will, was definitely taking.  I lived with my parents and went to school.  At home, I was in a position of “taking” from my parents, and outside of home I was taking from society by being educated (despite giving back large sums of tuition in return, but this was arguably still “taking” since I was mostly paying by way of loans or money graciously given by my parents).

Getting called to the bar - the day the transition from a taker to a contributor began

Last year was my first year of full-time work.  I opted to live with my parents, putting my student loans and my upcoming wedding as my financial priorities.  As a result of this, I would say that this past year has been my first real year on the “contributor” side of things.  I am now living like a “real” adult – living on my own and working full-time. It’s about time since I’m 28 years old.  In any case, this transition has made a difference in the way I now view the world.  Contrary to the way I thought when I was a student – being told that we were “the leaders tomorrow”, I now believe that this world belongs to my generation, and that today’s students are “the leaders of tomorrow”.  With the recent federal elections in Canada, I felt a lot more involved and affected by the issues than I had in the past.  And nearing the end of a one year contract in my professional life, the idea of getting out there and making my own contribution to society is becoming more and more appealing and exciting to me. At a crossroads in my career, it feels as though it is finally time to make my dreams come true.

This realisation of having become a contributor is also a little scary.  My husband and I have discussed lately the fact that we are inheriting a world that comes with the mistakes (and good contributions) of the previous generation.  In a few years, my generation will be taking over major positions of leadership and the generation above us will be retiring.  Our generation will be making decisions in tough areas like the Arab-Israeli conflict.  I feel as though our generation has been so privileged and had so much more access to education and travel than previous generations.  Because of this,  we arguably have a greater responsibility.  It is all so amazing and scary at the same time.  Definitely a unique place in life.    Generation Y, let’s not disappoint!

How do you decide what city (town) to live in?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how one goes about choosing where to live.  Perhaps this is because I have been moving around a lot in the last few years, and I am preparing for another move in a few months.  Now that I’ve lived in a few different cities (Toronto, Ottawa, Barcelona, Nice, Cape Town) and have experienced different lifestyles, I’ve realised that some lifestyles and cities work better for me than others.  Although I always thought I would end up in the city where I grew up (Toronto), now I’m not so sure about that anymore.  How does one go about making the decision about where to live? I mean, other than the obvious factors such as family/friends and jobs, what other factors can help guide this decision? Should we just decide to live where life takes us? Or should this decision be a more intentional one?  Even if one decides to live “where life takes you”, one is still often faced with the choice of what neighbourhood/suburb or type of home to dwell in.  So, keeping this in mind, what factors can we use to make such a choice? Again, you can choose to go with obvious factors such as what you like and what fits within your budget, but what I’m trying to get at, is that I think the decision involves a little more than that..

In fact, more and more, I’m starting to believe that one’s core values should really play a (big) part in this decision.  The more I think and read about this question, the more I am drawn to the conclusion that where you live should reflect your values and priorities (as much as possible anyway).  I also note that my internet search revealed that Ottawa is the best city to live in (in Canada), and Halifax is the second best (at least as of 2008:! I guess that means we must be doing something right.  But I digress.

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