Hi, I’m Tory
Where to begin? I was the quiet, well-behaved, smart kid growing up – pretty much just like all of my friends since I was in the gifted program. My report cards would always say wonderful things about me followed by ‘Victoria needs to be more assertive’ – still working on that one.
I always loved reading, writing and languages. As an 8 year old, I wrote poetry and short stories and was mesmerised by astronomy. Definitely a sensitive soul (and a giant cry baby according to my dad).
My parents raised me on the notion that I had to be a doctor, lawyer or accountant to be successful in life and I didn’t really know any better. When I was heading off to uni and decided science wasn’t for me, business seemed like the only other option if I wanted to get a ‘good job’.
So after one year of working in marketing for a paper company (yes my life was essentially ‘The Office’ for 12 months) I decided I didn’t see a future for myself in the corporate world. I basically caught a glimpse of ‘the real world’ and had the ‘is this all there is?/being an adult kind of sucks’ feeling. I wanted nothing to do with any of it and panicked back to the safety of school.
I’d lived my whole life up to that point ‘doing the right thing’. I got good grades, did a lot of extracurriculars, had a lot of friends, etc. I thought there was supposed to be some sort of reward at the end – that if I did xyz then that was the key to happiness. Everyone seemed to agree that the formula for a good life was getting a good job, a boyfriend and eventually a house. I quickly realised none of those things were actually going to make me feel complete or happy. It felt like I was constantly waiting for my ‘real life’ to start and there was always some bigger or better goal to reach that would finally be the magical thing that led to that happy life society seems to promise you if you just do all the right things.
At that time I couldn’t see outside the bubble that I’d grown up in; it felt like my only options were to stick it out and try to climb the corporate ladder or head back to school. So despite knowing a lot of overworked and unhappy lawyers, I turned to law school hoping it would be the solution to my problems or at least prolong the inevitable for a bit. Being a lawyer looked so cool on TV after all – I’d be a professional making a difference, using my brain more, and doing something important.
I quickly realised law school was just a (very expensive) route back to a slightly different version of the corporate world. I met some amazing people along the way and learned a thing or two, but I saw the same bleak future ahead of me working my life away in an office, this time with a whole lot of debt and extra pressure weighing down on me.
Around the same time, I realised I’d been happiest when I was living abroad. During uni, I’d done stints as an au pair in France and Belgium, a government intern in Quebec City, and an exchange student in Paris. Those were the times I really felt alive, but it seemed like others just wrote that off as a temporary break from reality. Coming up to my last summer of law school, I realised it had been 4 years since my last stint abroad and that 4 month break might be my last bit of freedom before I went into law full time. I’d gone on two week-long trips to Costa Rica over the winter and had studied Spanish all through uni, and thought fuck it, why not? I dodged the oh-so-important second year summer law job and booked my tickets.
That was the real turning point for me. Costa Rica awakened something inside me and helped me see that life outside they typical 9-5, white-picket fence reality was completely possible. I found my love of the ocean and outdoors and was taken aback living somewhere where no one asked what I did for work or judged me by my accomplishments. The contrast between my life in Costa and my future law career was stark and it had me questioning absolutely everything in all the right ways. But could I really quit law before I’d begun? After spending $60,000 and 3 years of my life on a legal education? I wasn’t sure.
I ended up going back to Toronto, finishing my law degree and articling for 10 months to officially become a lawyer. I tried everything I could in my last year in Toronto to live my best life there, I wanted to know if there was some way I could make Toronto the place for me if I just tried hard enough. I wanted to feel like I had given it a real go – I had a great law job in the city, went out with my friends, joined bootcamp & yoga, tried online dating for the first time, and persevered through a winter that was basically -20+ for three months straight. But I still felt like something was missing. Toronto was just not where I wanted to be. I didn’t feel like myself there or like I belonged; it felt like I was constantly swimming upstream.
Just one week after getting called to the bar, I left Canada and my law career behind for a new life in Australia. I’d visited Alex there 8 months earlier and was hooked by the sunshine, ocean and positivity I’d seen in the land down under. It seemed crazy by Toronto standards to up and leave when I had just started my law career, found a great guy, and was surrounded by my best friends. But it was something I needed to do. I figured what’s the worst that could happen? If I went and it didn’t work out, my Toronto life would always be there for me to go back to. Whereas if I didn’t try it out, I knew I’d regret it and always wonder what if.
So here I am, some 3 years later and counting, living a block from the infamous Bondi Beach with Alex, doing content marketing and PR and jumping in the ocean as often as possible. I’m still working on my assertiveness and figuring out this thing called life, but I am so much happier doing that in the sunshine by the sea. It feels like I’ve lived several lives already but at the same time like this is still just the beginning of the journey.