I am currently sitting on an airplane on route to Calgary, Canada—my home city. I have been on many airplanes before during our family travels, but this flight is a special one for me. I am moving home! For the past two years I haven't actually been living in Canada. When I was 18 years old I made the exciting decision to move to England of all places!
My parents always raised my sister and I to be very independent. They made space for us to explore who we are and what we want to be. It was an amazing gift, and one that I hope I will be able to pass on to my own children.
“Leaving the nest” (as my parents call it) was more difficult than I thought it would be. I wasn't entirely sure who I was or what I wanted to do and it was pretty scary... Now please don't get me wrong, leaving the nest isn't a bad thing. I think it is wonderful time filled with experiences that help you grow. I discovered SO many different things during this transition time, but at times it was hard to know where I was going or if I was making the right decisions.
University (Take 1!)
My first decision for my life outside of the nest was to go to University—Dalhousie to be exact. If you want to read about what it was like for my parents when I moved to the otherside of the country, check out this blog post my mom wrote in 2015. I only ended up spending four months in Halifax. I actually loved school... I think learning is so much fun and I was fascinated with all of the knowledge there was to gain. But it wasn't quite right for me and I think that is OK. If I hadn't gone, I would have never known.
Moving to halifax to go to the university.
For those parents out there who may be worrying about their children making these big life decisions I have a piece of advice from a child who made a very difficult choice. Just listen... It is the best thing in the world to have a pair of listening ears.
When I chose to leave Dalhousie, I also had to decide where to go from there. Before I could get very far, I had a visit from life itself and had to take some time to deal with health issues. After taking a moment (or six months worth of moments *giggle*) for myself I decided that I would give University a second go. Except this time I would stay in Calgary in order to have the support of my family.
Now this may be a good time to mention that the summer after high school I worked with a man from England, who soon became my boyfriend and best friend. We decided to continue our relationship through long distance. A year into our long distance, when I was getting ready to go back to Universty, I had a conversation with my mom. I remember it very clearly: we had gone out to a pottery painting studio to have a mother-daughter date and we talked about all of my options. She told me about a Visa that I could get as a young person, where I could live and work in England for two whole years!
My first day in England.
At first I was thinking, "Impossible! There is no way a girl like me could move to another country." But my mom got the wheels turning and I realized that the thought of moving to England and living with Callum made me so happy! When I spoke to my dad about what it would mean to put university on hold again—and for a whole two years this time—he listened. I ended up asking him how he would feel if I moved to England and I am so grateful for his response. He explained that above all else he wanted me to be happy; if moving to England made me happy then he felt happy for me. Hearing those words was what finally helped me realize that this was the right step for me. And ever since that conversation, I have been trying to base my decisions on what makes me the most happy rather than what I think other people expect me to do.
My last day in England.
So I put the plan in motion. I won't bore you with all of the details but it was hard work and completely worth it. I ended up moving to Birmingham, England to work, volunteer, and live with Callum.
Living in England
Me abseiling down a 200ft building in Birmingham England. This was an event to raise money for my volunteering scheme.
Even though I wasn't going to University in England, I feel like I learned SO much! Leaving high school, I didn't have a great idea of what I actually wanted to do as a career. Even though I loved what I was learning at Dalhousie, the thought of working within that degree afterwards didn't seem very exciting. While I was working and volunteering I got to discover what it was I actually liked to do.
I did everything from joining volleyball clubs, teaching maths to primary school children, volunteering at retirement homes, and leading dementia groups. After all of that exploring I learned more about what I love to do: I love to work with people and create connections!
Looking back on my time in England, I really appreciate the work experience I had; above that, it was the day to day things that meant the most to me. Learning how to be in a relationship, going on trips into Europe and around the UK, and creating a life... Wow! I can't believe I created a whole life of my own, how adult am I?!
University (Take Two!)
Now you are all caught up on the adventures of Kaitlyn leaving the nest! But learning what I want to do was the first step and now my next step is applying it. So...
I am going to university again! I decided to keep in mind what I learned at Dalhousie and go to school closer to home in Calgary. I've also decided to study Psychology because I think there is so much I can do with that degree. I am not sure what's going to happen now, but I do know that I feel really happy with everything that has happened.
I know that this was a long story, but the whole point of all of this was to connect with you guys. A lot of you are parents, and maybe you have children that are going through or heading into this transition time of their life just like me! Maybe you are parent of younger children and know that one day you'll be helping to guide them into adulthood. Or maybe you are a grown up just like me and you can think back and smile about all of the things you experienced. No matter who you are or why you are reading this, I hope that you can connect with this on some level.
A quote that I read recently resonated with me on a huge level:
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
– Winston Churchill
HAPPY ADULTING EVERYONE!
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All photos in this blog post are copyright Kaitlyn Guenther.
I am Kaitlyn, the K in DLTK and I've been working for the family website since I could hold a crayon. Now I am all grown up and I live with my partner, Callum, and our adorable cat, Juicebox! When I'm not helping my parents on the site, I am studying psychology at the University of Calgary. I love my work and my studies, but when I can I love to head out to the mountains and enjoy the outdoors! You can connect with me on Facebook or Instagram.