One of the things I don’t think gets spoken about often enough is the loneliness that can be felt when downsizing and starting over.
This doesn’t necessarily need to be the kind of loneliness that you’re completely off-grid, or you have no friends, or you’ve left family and all you know behind.
Although reading that back doesn’t exactly make it sound like we’re not experiencing that! 🙂
No, it’s more about the loneliness of simple things that you may have taken for granted, or maybe didn’t put as much thinking into before making the move.
I was reminded of this by an email from one of our newsletter subscribers, Dan Knauss, who’s a WordPress solutions guy and writer/editor. He’d responded to one of our introduction emails, asking what topics would be useful to talk about on here. Thanks, Dan!
Let’s jump in.
Missing Simple Social Gatherings When Downsizing and Starting Over
While my wife and I weren’t really the social butterflies that other couples can be, we would look to try and entertain where possible.
This might be inviting neighbours or friends over for summer BBQs, or going to visit family for a dinner and catch up.
It might even be something as simple as one of our kids having a play date, and we’d meet up with the other child and his or her parent(s), and socialize that way.
Sometimes it might just be an after work drink with a colleague. For my own social outings, I’d occasionally take in a Toronto FC soccer game with my good friend and workmate, Sam.
For my wife, she might go to Zumba with friends and perhaps go for a walk or bite to eat afterwards.
Basically, there was a bunch of little things that we could do, fairly easily, because they were all in reasonably close proximity to where we lived.
Now, it’s not so easy.
- While our new neighbours have been nothing but friendly since we moved here, it’s not currently at the stage where we’re attending reciprocal social events at each other’s homes
- While our kids do have play dates, the cold weather means they’re indoor ones, so the small beach and park in our new town will have to wait
- There’s no after-work drink with a colleague, as I’m 80% remote with the office three hours away in downtown Toronto
- Jaclyn’s Zumba class is no more, unless she was to drive two and a half hours south every week
Granted, some of this is dictated by the fact we moved in the winter, and it’s always easier to socialize when outdoors where others are.
And, yes, we can probably find replacement Zumba classes or similar in one of the larger towns that are only 20 minutes or so driving from our home.
But when it comes to the convenience of just stepping out the house and having a host of things to do that you could walk to, it’s definitely a change.
The Complete Darkness of Outside
One of the biggest reasons we chose to downsize and start over was to get away from the noise of the city.
Traffic. Sirens. The hustle and bustle and busyness of people in a rush to be somewhere unimportant (well, mostly unimportant).
This busyness wasn’t doing our anxiety levels any good (both Jaclyn and I suffer from mental health issues, which you can listen to us discussing on an episode of my podcast from last year).
Additionally, the city we had moved to to raise a family was becoming like the city we’d hurried away from, because it was too loud. So, yes, it was definitely the right time to move.
However, one thing I think that we weren’t expecting was just how quiet it is up here, and how dark!
Where our new home is, there’s maybe about eight houses on the street, spread out over a good stretch. There’s a sizeable distance between homes (as in, we’re not separated by five feet of space between houses).
This, coupled with the fact there’s maybe one street light, means the nights are incredibly dark. When we look out into our backyard, we can maybe see the front half of the deck, then the rest of the yard is pitch black.
This makes it feel as if you’re isolated more than you actually are, and increases that feeling of “loneliness”. Well, except for the fact we clearly have a whole herd of animals crossing our yard at night, given the amount of tracks in the snow in the morning!
This Is What We Wanted
Now, reading this as I type,I realize that this might sound as if there’s regrets in choosing somewhere so different from what we’re used to, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Jaclyn has mentioned numerous times that this is something she definitely needed, probably more than she realized. I can see the changes in her, and how this move has benefited her.
Our kids are extremely happy, and while they still miss their old life and friends, they’ve more than made up for it with new friends here, a new soccer team for Ewan and a gymnastics group for Salem adding to their happiness.
For me, while I miss the fact that I can’t have a quick pint with one of my friends after work occasionally, it makes the quarterly trips to the Toronto office all the more special.
Besides, loneliness can be a state of mind determined by how we view it at the time.
Some of the best moments can come from “loneliness”:
- Seeing a family of deer walk across the road in front of you
- Hearing the sounds of bluejays as they sing from the trees in the backyard
- Looking at what looks like a million stars in the sky, made easier by the blackness of the surroundings
While there might be less of a social aspect as a result of downsizing and starting over, it just means there’s a new social life just waiting to be found.
It might just take until the warmer weather arrives, but that’s okay. The extended family time we’re currently enjoying is something that I’ll happily take in exchange.