Written by Sasha

Hi Sasha, I moved to Vancouver on a one year working visa from Ireland in October last year. I'm 22 years old, and a recent architectural graduate with no employment prospects at home. My problem is this; since I've got here I've been applying for jobs in my field like crazy and have found nothing. I'm working two jobs that I don't enjoy and that really bring me backwards career-wise, and I have appalling homesickness. To be honest, I'm miserable here. Practically (okay, literally) every second day I dissolve in tears because I'm so frustrated with everything. It's very difficult to meet people here, and to be honest I'm working so much that I don't really have time anyway. My boyfriend is a lot more content here, because he's found a job he enjoys and isn't as attached to home as much as I am, it appears. Another problem is that he has every weekend off, while I am never given Saturday or Sunday off in my main job. This means that we never have time to spend the day together and just see each other in the evenings when one or the other of us is exhausted from work. I'm also worried that my almost constant crying is wrecking our relationship, there's only so much of it that he should have to put up with! I've taken some steps to help myself, like reducing the hours in my second job and attempting to socialise more. I've also joined my local gym to give me something to do on my days off alone. I can't quit my main job because the pay is much better then most of its kind in Vancouver, and I'd like to save money for when I'm inevitably jobless for a while when we do go home. If anything, since doing all this I have become even more homesick. I miss my family, especially my sister and brother, and I feel guilty being so far away from them. I have a chance to apply for a second year here, but I really don't want to take it. Everyone at home is telling me that I'm mad and I should stay away for as long as possible, but I really feel like I belong at home, good job or not. I know that in many respects I should just put up and shut up, but if I could I'd be on the next plane to Dublin. Any advice on how I can pull myself out of this hole? Thanks, K

K, I think there are a lot of people reading your letter right now who can totally relate and so can I. I’ve lived in three major cities in my life and admittedly I had some serious low moments. It’s like you look around and all you see are these well-adjusted people having fun and ‘living’ and then there you are, this total lonely loser…..right? There were often times where a whole 24 hours would go by until I realized I hadn’t used my vocal chords once. Talk about a case of the sads. So K, I know it’s hard but this is all a part of the process when you move somewhere new.

I promise you though - it does get better.

I think a general rule to keep in mind is that when you move to a new place, you have to give yourself at least 18 months. It takes time. And listen, it’s easy to want to pull the plug but being uncomfortable has its benefits. So it’s time to buck up, open your eyes, and start taking in this experience. If you still really despise Vancouver in another year then go home – no biggie. But in the meantime, it’s such a waste of an experience and waste of a beautiful city if all you’re going to do is feel sorry for yourself. Once you alter your mindset things will start to change because quite frankly, right now your defeatist vibe isn’t taking you anywhere.

Now, I’m going to go ahead and guess that you’re probably working in a restaurant or something like that, right? Which sure, isn’t super ideal, but if you accept it and open yourself up, you might just meet some really cool people. And I know how hard Vancouver can be. It’s my hometown so I can vouch for its major snobbery factor but there are a few things you can do in the city that will help you meet people.

K, the one common thread among all Vancouverites is the mighty Lululemon pant– so strap them on and get moving. So that means join the Running Room’s running group, sign up for yoga classes and in the summer join a beach volleyball team….. For real, Vancouver is all about being active - to get in the game you’ve got to play a game. It’s just the way it is out there. And for things happening in the city check out this site – it’s a good blog to see what cool things are going on: http://www.shedoesthecity.com/Vancouver

K, I really hope this helps. I know you miss home, but I think it would be a bigger mistake if you miss out on what’s going on in your life RIGHT NOW.

I did some things in the past that I'm not proud of and have been in therapy and seriously working on things for 2 years now. I sincerely apologized, repeatedly; to someone I hurt in the past. She won't forgive me and has spread the news all around my neighborhood. I have a group of wonderful friends that I've had for 10 years that have stuck by me through thick and thin and appreciate my good qualities and have helped me work on the bad. However, there is now a group of women in my neighborhood (some are former friends) that will no longer speak to me. This really hurts me and I can't seem to get over it. Aside from the problem I had with the one woman, I was always a good friend to the other women. I don't feel what I did warrant being ostracized and they make a point of being mean about it. Why do I care so much about these women? It's always been important to me to be accepted, and I'm so grateful for the good friends I do have. The saddest thing is that we're all in our 30's, it's not high school. Please tell me how I can move on and not feel the hurt anymore. Thanks, “Dwelling on it"

Dwelling, well this is a hard one to solve because it really comes down to when YOU are ready to let go.

Obviously you’re still harboring guilt from your actions in the past and it sounds like the pain you caused this friend made you question a lot of things about yourself. As I’m sure you’re learning in therapy (good for you) those emotions are probably still very raw and more likely than not, you haven’t truly forgiven yourself for your mistakes. I wish I knew what you actually did to this friend, because 1) I’m nosy and 2) because it would help me understand the situation a bit better. Either way, I think it’s safe to guess that your negative actions probably stemmed from some insecurities and these same insecurities are still playing a role in the way you feel now. And guess what? They may dictate how you feel about many things in your future, so it’s time to identify what they are. Cue: your therapist.

No one wants to be rejected but what I hope you realize soon is that you can’t control how other people feel - you can only control how you feel about yourself. This goes for a lot of things in life – boys, friends, co-workers etc. So Dwelling, at a certain point you’re going to have to walk away from the things you have no power over. So yah, if some of these chicks in your hood don’t like you then - that’s that - they don’t like you. And you know what? They’re entitled to feel that way about you if they want. You mention ‘high-school’ but what’s more high-school than wanting everyone to like you? So while you might be feeling majorly dissed, you need to ask yourself why you’re wasting energy on people who are clearly not wasting their energy on you.

Dwelling, all you can do right now is continue to work through some of your issues and more importantly re-focus your attention on the relationships and friendships that DO mean something. This will take some time but I have no doubt that you’ll get there soon.

I decided to go on an adventure as my life was feeling stagnant after getting out of a toxic relationship. At that point I figured I need to go do something for me, go crazy, sow the oats and have some fun. I was going to go do the cliche teaching english thing and was set to depart. Since booking my ticket and giving notice at my job I've spent the last few months packing on the pounds. Last month we found out my dad had stage 4 stomach cancer and I ended up cancelling the trip the day before my intended departure. Needless to say that sucked majorly and was a super tough decision. He passed away a few weeks ago. Thank god I didn't go on the trip. Obviously I'm still in shock and as you can see it happened so incredibly fast that I've hardly had time to even accept he was sick. On top of the last few months of bad habits, I've been drinking daily (I'm kinda drunk right now to be honest), consuming everything in sight, and quite frankly eating my feelings. I'm living at home with my mom, unemployed, without a vehicle, living on sparse savings intended for this trip, and quite frankly I'm the fattest I have ever been in my life. I'm feeling incredibly lost what with having dropped everything in my life for this trip and now even more down about how I look. It seems so stupid and superficial but we've had all these people coming over to pay respects and whatnot and all I can think about is how fat I am and how badly all my clothes fit. I'm not the type to sit and feel sorry for myself, ever, but this is such a cluster f-ck of insanity I hope you can understand. Not even really sure what I'm asking but anything any of you can do to help me out would be amazing. TM

TM, my heart totally goes out to you because I can only imagine how emotionally tapped you must feel right now. I’m so sorry that you have to go through this.

I have a couple of friends that have lost a parent or sibling and to see their pain and sadness is heartbreaking. And while I know everyone grieves differently, I’ve seen a few people go off the rails. So my only concern here is that you don’t get into a similar self-destructive spiral. That said, first things first I need you to put down the drink. For any of this to get better you need to be fully cognisant of what’s going on right now. So stop numbing the pain and actually feel it, as difficult as that may be.

I’m sure you don’t want to ‘burden’ people but trust me when I tell you that your friends and family want to be there for you, so TM, this is the time to lean on them. You need to let it all out and once you do, I promise, things will start falling back into place, and yes, even the extra weight you’re fixated on.

I am in no place to understand exactly how you feel but I do think it’s important for you to grieve everything: from the loss of your dad to the loss of your dream trip. Let it all crumble so you can rebuild again. Then give yourself time, say three months, and from there start re-planning that trip of yours. Don’t give up on that. So start looking for a job soon so you can start saving up again.

It won’t be easy but after a few more good cries you’ll need to pull yourself out of this and start living again. And without coming off as super cheeseball, you know your dad would want to see that too. I’m looking forward to a postcard. xx